GATSIBO, Rwanda – Rwanda President Paul Kagame has said his country took the decision to close its borders with Uganda because it has been provoked enough.
Speaking at the 16th edition of the National Leadership Retreat at Rwanda Defence Force Combat Training Centre in Gabiro, Gatsibo District, Mr Kagame said his country is ready to pay the price for the closure of its border with Uganda as long as it protects its sovereignty.
“We have been provoked, people have crossed our borders, killed our people and we have not responded. We were able to see someone wanted to drag us into this mess. When they have dragged you into this sort of problem, then you start looking the same,” he said.
“What remains to discuss with our brothers and sisters is the movement of people. We have Rwandans who go to Uganda who have been in prison, in their dozens, some of them are in military prison, others nobody knows where they are,” he added.
He was reiterating remarks by his Foreign Affairs Minister Richard Sezibera who last week said that his country was closing borders with Uganda in protest at what he said is Kampala arresting their nationals and harbouring people intending to overthrow the Kigali government.
Whereas Uganda has denied the allegations, Kagame on Friday insisted that Uganda must respect its sovereignty.
He said almost every week, there are people who are brought and dumped across the border, and when you asked some of them, they say they have been in prison for 2 years.
He said whenever he has asked Uganda about the prisoners, authorities here would say they were illegal immigrants.
“But they were in prison for 2 years, with no charges, until they pack them in a truck and take them across the border.”
“I have learned lessons of our struggles, of the hardships of our country. One of them is I am not in control of what somebody else thinks about me or plans to do against me. But I must be in control of something, and that is what happens here,” he said.
On Saturday, President Museveni, while commissioning factories in Mukono district, warned those seeking to destabilize Uganda, a seemingly veiled attack on Mr Kagame.
“Those who want to destabilize our country do not know our capacity. It is very big. Once we mobilise, you can’t survive,” Gen. Museveni said.
But in his Saturday rant, President Kagame seemed to respond directly to this: “When I hear somebody say no one can destabilize their country, I agree. No one should actually be destabilizing that country but that country should also not be destabilizing others, I think it is a fair deal,” Kagame said.
Last week, Uganda through the minister of Foreign Affairs, Sam Kutesa, denied charges that it was harbouring elements out to destabilise Rwanda.
Uganda also denied claims of torture and harassment of Rwandans saying whoever is arrested is handled according to the due process of the law.