KATUNA — President Yoweri Museveni has on Friday, February 21, sought to explain the cause of the Uganda-Rwanda border closure controversy, denying any wrongdoing on part of Uganda.
The Ugandan President, who met and held talks with his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame aimed at restoring good relations between the two countries explained to Ugandan locals for the first time, revealing bad blood between Kagame and his former RPF members led to the closure of the Rwanda- Uganda border at Katuna point.
He said that the closure emanated from the internal conflicts in Rwanda especially within the RPF ranks when some members of RPF disagreed with the Rwanda government and majority took refugee in South Africa.
Mr. Museveni is quoted by his press secretary Lindah Nabusayi, as he addressed residents along the Ugandan border line on his way from the talks as saying:
“He [Museveni] said that the closure emanated from the internal conflicts in Rwanda especially within the RPF ranks when some members of RPF disagreed with the Rwanda government and majority took refuge in South Africa. He, however, said that the Rwanda government says that some of them reside in Uganda, an allegation he said that was not true”.
Some of Rwandans in South African include Lt. Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa.
Relations between the two countries soured with Rwanda accusing Uganda of helping Kayumba Nyamwasa of rebel recruiting forces from East and Central region to wreck havoc on Kagame administration.
The accusations were extended to South Africa whose centre of the dirty diplomatic tussle are several issues: South Africa giving refuge to Kayumba Nyamwasa and other “dissidents”; the 2013 murder of former intelligence boss Colonel Patrick Karegeya in Sandton; the expulsion of diplomats from both countries in a tit-for-tat standoff; and a South African judiciary inquest into the murder of Karegeya.
South Africa openly rebuked Rwanda and expelled three Rwandan diplomats.
Rwanda retaliated by sending home six South African diplomats.
Kagame blames Uganda and South Africa for the instability in East Africa, where rebel activities are linked to his political foes exiled in Pretoria, who were believed to come to the Great Lakes region via Uganda to recruits rebels, allegedly with the support of President Museveni’s government.
Museveni has blatantly rejected this as malicious.
President Kagame claims that he repeatedly raised the matter with Uganda until he felt that Kampala had not shown a keen interest in patching things up, hence choosing to close the border.
The border closure has led to tense relations between the two East African neighbours to the extent that there was even talk of war.
Museveni after the Quadripartite summit held at the border has rejected President Kagame accusations and said Uganda has never given support to any dissents to destabilize Rwanda.
He also denied arresting Rwandans saying that those his government arrested were handed to Kagame administration and Uganda leadership was not aware of the presence of such people on Ugandan territory.
He added that for the case of Rwandan citizens that were arrested in Uganda for cases such as espionage and kidnap of people on the Ugandan soil, he has instructed for their pardon and immediate release.
However, he said those arrested for crimes such as murder and rape will have to face trial in accordance with the Ugandan laws.
Museveni expressed sympathy to the citizens of Uganda and Rwanda that have been affected by the after effects closure of the Katuna border and called for patience, saying a lasting solution is being sought to solve the problem.