By Melodie Mukansonera
Rwanda has made it clear that Uganda’s push for the reopening of the border, as was the case during last Thursday’s meeting of the Ad Hoc Commission on the Implementation of the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding, is a non-starter. That is unless Uganda takes concrete steps to work on the demands of Kigali which it put forward with evidence and facts.
Among Rwanda’s demands are for Kampala to dismantle negative, anti-Rwanda groups on it’s territory, as well as for Uganda’s harassment, persecution, arbitrary arrests and torture of Rwandans to end. It is an open secret that Ugandan territory is a safe haven for groups bent on destabilizing Rwanda, including RNC, FDLR and RUD-Urunana.
Sources close to Thursday’s meeting of the ad hoc commission, which was by video conference, told this website that “Uganda came to the meeting with a proposal (which was not on the agenda) of asking that “the border be reopened to allow free movement of people as other issues are being worked on.” But, according to our source, Rwanda turned down the proposal, adamant that the issues at hand are beyond just the border issue and concern the safety of Rwandans.
The meeting that brought together ministers and officials from both countries was the fourth in series of follow up on the Luanda MoU signed by the heads of state of both countries in August last year, committing to resolving deteriorated relations between the two countries.
Under the agreement, among other things it was agreed the two countries protect and respect the rights and freedoms of nationals of the other party, residing or transiting in their national territory, and to refrain from engaging in actions that destabilize the other party (or actions perceived to) such as financing, training and infiltration of destabilizing forces.
However, in a brief interview given to journalists after the meeting, Minister Vincent Biruta who led the Rwandan delegation said; “We realized that a lot more needs to be done (by Uganda) for normal relations to return. There must be political will so that if any issue comes up we can have a way of resolving it,” Biruta told journalists.
The minister added that there are still activities of terrorist groups operating in Uganda whose primary mission is to destabilize Rwanda. To observers, Kampala’s continued support of such groups and individuals is clear sign it “is not yet taking its obligations seriously enough.”
Biruta emphasized that there is a trend of on-going mobilization activities in different parts of Uganda to support RNC and the other negative forces that continue to receive the support from Uganda’s Security Organs. The minister added that the harassment and persecution of Rwandan nationals in Uganda continues to grow though the Government of Uganda seems to keep denying its role “in these regrettable acts.”
After Uganda’s failure to give a proper roadmap of when and how the outstanding issues will be addressed in order to secure the opening of the border, both parties agreed to reconvene and discuss the way forward before recommending another Heads of State Summit.