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Uganda-Rwanda relations near breaking point amid deportations, rebel activity claims

(L-R) President Paul Kagame (Rwanda) and Yoweri Museveni (Uganda).  Relations between Rwanda and Uganda continue to deteriorate following continuous arrests of each other’s citizens and counter-accusations of funding rebel activities (FILE PHOTO

KAMPALA/KIGALI – Relations between Rwanda and Uganda have broken down further following continuous arrests of each other’s citizens and counter-accusations of funding rebel activities, PML Daily has learnt.

The earlier tension between the two neighbouring countries was defused following a meeting between President Museveni and his Rwanda counterpart Paul Kagame on March 25 in Kampala.

However, reliable sources have revealed that following the meeting, diplomatic relations worsened since the two countries reneged on their earlier commitments as arrests and deportation of Rwandans by Uganda have increased ever since.

Since March, Ugandan authorities, especially in the border districts of Kabale, Kisoro and Kagadi have arrested several Rwandan nationals and deported them back to Rwanda. The latest came on July 24 when Police in Rubanda District arrested 22 Rwandan and Congolese nationals over illegal entry into Uganda.

Rwanda also accuses Uganda immigration officials of confiscating identity cards of Rwandese travelling to Uganda.

Kigali accuses Kampala of backing Rwandan dissidents seeking to destabilise Rwanda while Uganda, on the other hand, intensified its crackdown on Rwandans it says are on espionage missions in Uganda.

Last week, some Rwanda news sites published a story alleging that President Museveni spoke to Rwandan dissident Dr David Himbara, one of Rwanda’s most vocal critics, purporting that the Ugandan leader offered to support him.

Last month, the Rwandan High Commissioner to Uganda, Maj Gen (Rtd) Frank Mugambage, also claimed that the Kampala government has failed to investigate terror groups working within Uganda with plans to attack Rwanda.

To avoid further escalation of the conflict, Presidents Museveni and Kagame have ordered the Foreign minister of both countries to start meeting under the Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) which provides a good mechanism for discussing matters of mutual interest and strengthening cooperation.

Although the two leaders had recommended revival of JPC within three months from the Kampala meeting, it has not taken place.

Rwanda’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs Olivier Nduhungirehe confirmed that JPC will soon convene.

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