KYANIKA – Rwanda has deployed the army along its common border with Uganda as a diplomatic rift continues to rage between the two East African neighbours.
Rwandan soldiers could be seen along the hills at Mukaniga, Byumba and Buganza, patrolling the Rwandan side of the border.
It added that Uganda’s Internal Security Organization, ISO, officials also confirmed the development. On their side Ugandan authorities say they have not seen the need for such a deployment.
The Kabale Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Mr. Darius Nandinda, has said the closure of the Rwanda-Uganda border by Rwanda is affecting the latter’s citizens more than Ugandans.
Addressing journalists in Kabale Town on Monday, Mr. Nandinda said that the closure of the border and restriction of the Rwandan nationals from entering Uganda is a punishment to the Rwandese by its country.
“The Rwandans denying their nationals from entering Uganda is their right though it is biting them hard because Rwandan communities near the Ugandan borders have been crossing to get social services such as the education of their children, health services and buying household items and food kinds of stuff from the markets and trading centers,” Mr Nandinda said.
“The issue of Rwandan authorities denying their nationals to enter Uganda is a real boomerang that shall backfire on them because they have been beneficiaries of several social services from Uganda,” he added.
He also dismissed allegations that Uganda has deployed its soldiers on the borders with Rwanda.
“There is no security threat to warrant the deployment of the soldiers on our borders with Rwanda. Rwandans in Uganda are as free as Ugandans. Anybody claiming that Rwandans are harassed in Uganda is a liar. No Rwandan national is asked to produce a working permit before he/she is employed as a casual laborer in Uganda communities around the Rwandan border,” Mr. Nandinda said.
The two countries in 2000 fought a deadly war in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Kisangani. It is reported that the duel led to over 1,000 casualties.
Rwanda only last week said its borders with Uganda remained opened but that it was strongly advised that nationals avoid travel to the neighbour.
Kigali accuses Kampala of arbitrary detention of its nationals and backing of groups that are working against Kigali.
“The problems that Rwandans are facing in Uganda currently are three. The first, and most important, is that Rwandans are arrested, tortured, harassed in Uganda; this is an issue we’ve raised with Uganda many times at different levels, those that are not arrested, harassed, detained are deported for reasons which we don’t understand. That’s one challenge.
“The second challenge, which we’ve again raised with the Government of Uganda, is that 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; the RNC, some members of the FDLR, and so on and so forth…these are groups that have carried out (criminal) acts here in Rwanda and are based in Uganda.
“The third is the challenge related to the free movement of Rwandan goods across Ugandan territory.
“Rwanda is landlocked, our access is through the port of Mombasa, but we’ve had cases. In one particular incident, we had containers of goods originating from Rwanda that were held in Uganda for months for no good reason, they were eventually released but there is difficulty…those are the three challenges that we are dealing with at the moment; of course Rwandans who also conduct trade in Uganda are harassed,” said Rwanda’s minister for Foreign Affairs and government spokesperson Dr. Richard Sezibera.