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Border closure: Over 180 Rwandan students to miss Kampala University graduation

Kampala University Graduands celebrate their milestone in education. Over 180 Rwandan graduands at the private institution are set to miss the forthcoming graduation as the tension between Uganda and Rwanda remains unclear (FILE PHOTO)

KIGALI/KAMPALA – A total of 187 Rwandan students studying at Kampala University (KU) are set to miss the institution’s 16th graduation ceremony scheduled for March 7.

Addressing journalists at the university main campus in Gaba, Kampala, on Tuesday, KU Vice-Chancellor Prof Badru Dungu Kateregga said most students have already communicated to his office that they will not attend the graduation ceremony due to the ongoing closure of the border with Uganda by Rwanda.

“Most students who had gone back to Rwanda will not attend the graduation because they have already communicated to the university management. We pray for them that as the graduation approaches, the situation is calm” Prof Kateregga said.

He, however, said that a student can graduate in absentia, asserting that their certificates will be ready provided they fulfilled all the academic requirements.

The ceremony will see 3,352 students (60.1% male) and (39.8% female) awarded certificates, diplomas and degrees in various programmes.

Of these, 1,820 are Ugandans and 1,532 are from Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia, South Sudan, Burundi, Ethiopia and Liberia.

He said that the graduands have been studying at all the six campuses of the university.

The graduands are from the faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology, Arts and Social Sciences, Education, Industrial Art and Design, Natural Science and School of postgraduate students.

Queen of Buganda Sylvia Nagginda will be the guest of honour and Prof George Mondo Kagonyera will preside over the graduation ceremony.

Rwanda’s foreign affairs minister Richard Sezibera on Monday accused Uganda of hosting its armed adversaries, restricting movement of Rwandan goods on its territory and tormenting its citizens.

“The problems that Rwandans are facing in Uganda currently are three: Rwandans are arrested, tortured, harassed in Uganda…[and] those that are not arrested, harassed, detained are deported for reasons which we don’t understand.

“There are armed groups, individuals who head armed groups that are opposed to the government of Rwanda, that have a violent agenda towards Rwanda who operate in Uganda [such as] the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) [and]…these are groups that have carried out (criminal) acts here in Rwanda and are based in Uganda; and, the third is the challenge related to the free movement of Rwandan goods across Ugandan territory,” he added.

However, Uganda’s foreign affair minister Sam Kutesa on Tuesday described the accusation as false and that Rwanda knows this very well as it has been “a matter of confidential communication at the highest level of the two countries.” “Uganda does not and cannot allow anyone to operate from its territory that threatens a neighbour as alleged.

This is a principle position. We are fully aware that our own development and transformation cannot take place without peace and security in the region. It is for this reason that Uganda has continued to champion closer collaboration and coordination within regional frameworks like EAC, ICGLR, IGAD and even at the continental level,” Mr Kutesa said in a statement issued on Tuesday as border tensions between the two neighbouring east African countries drags on.

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