Rwanda to reopen border with Uganda this month

Presidents Kagame and Museveni

Rwandan president Paul Kagame (Left) and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. Sour relations between their countries had led to Rwanda closing the Katuna/Gatuna border.

Photo credit: Courtesy | AFP

Rwanda government has said it will reopen its border with Uganda this month as it seeks to ease tension between the two neighbouring countries.

A statement shared by the state-affiliated Rwanda Broadcasting Agency and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation indicated that Gatuna/Katuna and other land border posts will be reopened starting January 31, 2022.

“Following the visit to Rwanda of Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, Senior Presidential Adviser on Special Operations and Commander Land Forces of the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) on January 22, 2022, the government of Rwanda has taken note that there is a process to solve issues raised by Rwanda, as well as commitments made by the Government of Uganda to address remaining obstacles. In this regard and in line with communique of the 4th Quadripartite Summit held at Gatuna/Katuna on February 21, 2020, the Government of Rwanda wishes to inform the public that the Gatuna border post between Rwanda and Uganda will be reopened from January 31, 2022,” the Friday January 28 morning statement reads in part.

The sour relations between the two neighbouring East African countries led to Rwanda closing the Katuna/Gatuna border in February 2019.

“As it is the case for other land border posts in the country, health authorities of Rwanda and Uganda will work together to put in place necessary measures to facilitate movement in the context of Covid-19,” the Friday morning statements adds.

Rwanda said it remains committed to ongoing efforts to resolve pending issues between Rwanda and Uganda and believes that the reopening of the border will contribute positively to the speedy normalisation of relations between the two countries.

According to Uganda's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Adonia Ayebare the border reopening means a lot to the "people of both countries."

"This means a lot to People of both countries. Well done for this important step in restoring strong bilateral ties between the two countries," tweeted Mr Ayebare who, on January 17, 2022 delivered President Museveni's special message to Kagame ahead of Gen Kainerugaba's trip.

Hours after his weekend trip to Rwanda, Gen Kainerugaba who is rumoured to be a possible successor of his 77-year-old father, President Museveni, said he held ‘very’ cordial and in-depth discussions about how to improve the ‘two neighbouring countries bilateral relations.

"I'm confident that under the leadership of our two Presidents we shall be able to quickly restore our historical good relations,” the former SFC commander tweeted.

The meeting happened less than a week after Kainerugaba tweeted two photos of Kagame, one of the president as a young man wearing military fatigues and a more recent image of him in a suit.

"This is my uncle, Paul Kagame. Those who fight him fight my family. They should all be careful," the tweet said.

Kainerugaba's father Museveni and Kagame were close allies over the 1980s and 90s during struggles for power in their respective country, before becoming bitter rivals.

Rwanda abruptly closed its border with Uganda in February 2019, cutting off an important trade link.

Rwanda accused Uganda of abducting its citizens and supporting rebels seeking to topple Kagame.

For its part, Uganda accused Rwanda of spying as well as killing two men during an incursion into Ugandan territory in 2019 -- a claim Kigali denies.

Talks between Kagame and Museveni were hosted by Angolan President Joao Lourenco and Congolese leader Felix Tshisekedi, the last such meeting taking place in February 2020.

No meeting has been held since, partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Relations between the countries also soured after an investigation last year found that Rwanda used Israeli Pegasus spying software to hack into the phones of Uganda's prime minister and foreign minister, among others.

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