Rwanda and Uganda relations have hit a new low with the former virtually closing its borders to all trade and human movement from its eastern neighbour. The falling out between Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, and Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, is the culmination of a series of incidents going back to two years.
Last year, Uganda arrested and dismissed a number of senior security officers claiming they were assisting the Rwandan authorities to track and extradite political dissidents. In June the Ugandan chief of police, Kale Kayihura, was among those removed from his post. Kampala began removing executives from the country’s MTN telecom firm on the same grounds. In addition, Rwandans accused of being part of that country’s intelligence services and carrying out kidnappings and even assassinations on behalf of Kagame’s regime were expelled.
Rwanda responded angrily to these developments and accused Uganda of harbouring dissidents and demanded explanations for the deportations. Kenya has begun a mediation process between the two countries.
Kagame and Museveni have a long history together. Kagame and other Rwandan militia members helped Museveni when he came to power in Uganda in the 1980s. He returned the favour by providing shelter to Kagame’s militia during the on and off Rwandan civil conflicts of the 1990s. However, the two leaders began to drift apart after soldiers from both sides clashed in 1998 in the Congo.
Rwanda has gotten caught in smaller but similar disputes with Burundi and Tanzania over the presence of dissidents. Kagame denounced South Africa for providing a home to the previous Rwandan army chief.
March 28, 2019