KAMPALA – The second round of talks between Uganda and Rwanda ended on Friday, December 13, 2020, without the two countries reaching to an agreement about resolving their differences.
The meeting, which was part of the implementation of the Luanda peace deal signed in Angola in August, also ended without any joint communique issued to the media, an indication of lack of any concrete agreement.
The meeting, held at Speke Hotel in Munyonyo, Kampala, had started with a press conference in which officials from the two countries pledged willingness to resolve their disagreements that culminated in Rwanda closing its border to Uganda, effectively affecting trade and labor movement.
Then the meeting was closed to the media. Rwanda’s Minister for Regional Cooperation Olivier Nduhungirehe and Rwanda’s High Commissioner to Uganda Frank Mugambage led the Kigali team. Maj.Gen.Joseph Nzabamwita, the Secretary-general for the National Intelligence and Security Service, and Gen.Patrick Nyamvumba, the Minister for Internal Security, also formed the delegation.
On the Ugandan delegation was Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa, State Minister for Internal Affairs Obiga Kania and Deputy Attorney General, Mwesigwa Rukutana.
It also comprised the head of CMI, Brig.Abel Kandiho, his deputy, Col.CK. Asiimwe, ESO Director General Joseph Ocwet and Police Crime Intelligence Director Col. Chris Ddamulira.
The meeting then set to discuss the key contentious issues; Rwanda asked Uganda to stop supporting rebel groups such as Rwanda National Congress (RNC) led by Kayumba Nyamwasa and Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) based in DR Congo.
Rwanda also accused Uganda of arbitrarily arresting it’s citizens without reason.
But Kampala denied the claims, with Kutesa insisting that the arrests were made within the law and that Rwandan military officials were arrested trying to infiltrate Kampala security forces.
Sources within the meeting, which lasted about seven hours, said that the two sides haggled for long over the two issues, with seemingly no progress in sight.
Eventually, they resolved to go and update their presidents over the issues.
The implication of the standoff is that the border will remain closed.
Kutesa told journalists after the meeting that the issue of arrests was discussed intensely.
“One of the issues Uganda raised was the infiltration of our security agencies by the Rwandan government and its people. It is the reason for arrest and detention of people because we think they have been on an infiltration exercise,” Kutesa said.
He, however, insisted both countries will continue discussing the issue before reaching a conclusion.
“We continue discussing and find ways around it.”
Kutesa also insisted that there is no reason for Uganda to support subversive activities against Rwanda.
“There is no reason whatsoever and Uganda will not try to subvert the government of Rwanda. We have no reason, we have no benefit,” Kutesa said.
One of the most contentious issues that both countries still failed to agree on was the closure of the border points between the two countries.
Whereas Uganda insisted there should not be reason for the continued closure, Rwanda said the issue is intertwined with the arrests of their people and support of subversive activities.
“The closure of the border and trade barrier between the two countries is a consequence of the two issues. It should not be reduced into border closure but rather an issue about our sovereignty and safety of Rwandans,” the Rwandan Minister for Regional Cooperation told journalists.