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UK govt offers to mediate Rwanda-Uganda standoff

UK High Commissioner Jo Lomas and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame recently. (PHOTO/COURTESY)

KIGALI – The British High Commissioner to Rwanda Ms. Jo Lomas has said that her country would be happy to offer mediation support to resolve the ongoing Rwanda-Uganda conflict.

The High Commissioner said in an interview with one of the local dailies in Kigali on Monday March 26, 2019 alongside the visiting UK Trade Commissioner for Africa Ms. Emma Wade-OBE.

Ms. Wade-OBE also commented on a wide range of issues including her country’s trade relations with Rwanda and Africa, the chance for AfCFTA to succeed, UK trade volumes in Rwanda and Africa, Brexit and its consequences on trade with Africa.

Asked whether UK will help mediate the current conflict between Rwanda and Uganda as it did in 2000 when the two countries fought in Kisangani, Ms Lomas said: “We are happy to offer support if needed but actually we think that the solution is here in the region”.

Ms. Lomas also revealed that UK is “concerned about the current tensions between Rwanda and Uganda” and emphasized that it is in everyone’s interest to de-escalate the conflict and “get that trading relationship back on track”.

The United Kingdom played a crucial role in de-escalating tensions after Rwanda and Uganda fought two fierce battles in Kisangani in 1999 and 2000.

When the situation deteriorated for the worst following a letter sent on August 28, 2001 by President Museveni to the then UK Secretary for International Development, Clare Short in which he branded Rwanda as an “enemy state”.

President Museveni had written the letter saying “We have no doubt that Rwanda is planning aggression against us either using proxies or even directly”, and seeking clearance to increase defense expenditure and purchase more military hardware to defend herself against perceived Rwandan aggression.

For two years, Kagame and Museveni met more than five times with Clare Short as the mediator. A deal was eventually struck.

For the past two years from 2017, Rwanda and Uganda are back at each other’s throat. This time though, President Kagame has publicly said how he has engaged Museveni several times, at one time even, apparently telling Museveni: “Am begging you, please deal with this matter”.

At the moment, there is no known mediation effort going.

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