By Erasme Rugemintwaza
The Government of Rwanda has decided to reopen the border of Gatuna/Katuna, its main border post with Uganda on January 31, 2022, according to an announcement made in the night of Thursday, 27 to Friday 28 by its Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. This comes a week after the visit of General Muhoozi to Kigali. A reopening that brings happiness to the entire region! But what is behind this impromptu change of the situation that bothered everyone in the region?
The Rwandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, announced on January 28, the reopening on 31 January 2022 of the main border post with Uganda, Gatuna/Katuna, closed since February 2019.
The announcement begins the thaw of the frozen relations between the two brothers and friends countries who accused until then each other for political interference and espionage.
A Pro-Muhoozi campaign!
One wonders why President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni is capitulating in front of Paul Kagame after a simple visit of his son to Kigali to negotiate with Paul Kagame, a man recognized stubborn. In fact negiciations done by General Muhoozi are about a crucial problem whose diplomacies of the ministries of foreign affairs of two countries and even international intervention were vain and more recently, the visit of the eminent Ambassador Adonia Ayebare in the Village Urugwiro has been a failure and resounding as this message from Kigali after his reception by Paul Kagame. “Good to see talks continue at all levels, but meetings and envoy visits have not led to tangible results on Uganda’s part. Still no accountability for terrorist elements operating against Rwanda inside Uganda, and the harassment of innocent Rwandans continues,”says Yolande Makolo, spokesman for the Rwandan government, on his Twitter account.
It is very clear that Museveni, as a great politician wants to make great his son of General Muhoozi and thus devotes him as meritorious to his succession at the presidency of Uganda.
In fact the closure of the border between Rwanda and Uganda that is comparable in many ways to the cold war between the United States and the USSR, is a more economical than military war. Because in fact the military confrontation of the two countries would be a madness as the closure of the border has been because the reasons are lacking if it is not the arrogant whims or the capricious arrogance of our two war comrades Museveni and Kagame competing for the hegemony in the region! Next to this tension it looks individual, the two Rwandan and Ugandan peoples have suffered much economically from this closure and claim, especially on the Ugandan side where the free expression is guaranteed, the reopening of the border. In one word, peoples always suffer from these economic sanctions or embargo. Thus the reopening of the border following the negotiations made under auspices of General Muhoozi, offers him the hearts of these populations whose sufferings exceeded the limits.
In fact, the announcement of the reopening of the border occurs less than a week after the visit of the Son of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, General Muhoozi Kaineerugaba, to Kigali. According to the press release released by two parts, the visit has been successful. On the Rwandan side it has been announced that: “President Kagame and General Muhoozi have had cordial, productive and forward looking discussions about Rwanda’s concerns and practical steps needed to restore relationship between Rwanda and Uganda “
As for General Muhoozi Kaineerugaba, he returned to Kampala with the premises of his visit, “I further thank President Paul Kagame for honouring my request to release our SFC soldier, Private Ronaldo Arinda, who has been strayed into Rwandan territory on personal business without permission. I returned with him tonight to Uganda. Longlive the friendship of the two countries.”
After the visit to Rwanda of General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, on January 22, 2022, the Rwandan government reported that there is a process to solve the problems raised by Rwanda, as well as commitments of the Government of Uganda to remove the obstacles remaining.
On the Ugandan side, things accelerated after the visit of the son of the president Museveni to his “uncle” president Kagame. The person always accused by Kigali to torture Rwandans and collaborate with the Party in exile of the dissident Rwandan General Rwandan Faustin Kayumba Nyamaswa, General Abel Kandiho was quickly removed.
Thus, as if to acquiesce the goodwill of Uganda, the Rwandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, in a statement published early Friday morning, stated that “(…) the Government wishes to inform the public that the Gatuna border post between Rwanda and Uganda will be re-opened from January 31 “. ” The Government of Rwanda remains committed to ongoing efforts to solve pending issues between Rwanda and Uganda and believes that today’s announcement will contribute positively to the speedy normalization of the relations between the two countries, “concludes the communique.
The Ugandan government, through the Foreign Affairs Ministries, made public a satisfaction statement:
“The Government of Uganda welcomes the statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of Rwanda through their official Twitter handle, about the reopening of Katuna/Gatuna border post.
We appreciate the efforts by the two Heads of States; H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and H.E Paul Kagame towards restoration of the strong historical ties, crucial for the well-being of the peoples of both countries. We look forward to continued cooperation in addressing any other obstacles to cordial relations.
We appreciate the Lt General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the Commander of the Land Forces of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) whose visit to Rwanda on 22nd January, 2022 gave assurance to the Government of Rwanda on Uganda’s commitment to addressing the remaining obstacles, hence the reopening the border on 31rst January, 2022 “
Brief Review of Rwando-Ugandan tension
Without digging up the fierce enmity between Rwanda and Uganda that is the barbarian confrontation of Kisangani in 2000, where the two friends who had just squatted the Eastern Congo Kinshasa had deadly clashed into a war due to a misunderstanding to share the booty of their war, remember that Rwanda suddenly closed the border post of Gatuna/Katuna, in February 2019, cutting a large terrestrial trade route, in a context of increasing tensions between the two countries. Kigali accused Uganda from abducting its nationals and support rebels seeking to overthrow Kigali regime or Paul Kagame. Kampala, on its side, accused the Rwanda of espionage and killing of two men during an incursion on its territory in May 2019, which Kigali disputed. Let’s not forget that Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni were close allied during the 1980s-1990, in the conquest of power in their respective countries. Among the 27 war comrades who began the Ugandan rebellion of the National Resistance Army, who took power in Kampala in 1986 under the Museveni guide was Kagame; furthermore the military base of the Tutsi rebels who invaded Rwanda in 1990 was Uganda and especially the enthronement of Kagame as a supreme chief for this rebellion was made by Museveni. These are the men who have become fierce rivals for geopolitical reasons.
As usual, after the closure of the Gatuna border post, talks between the two leaders had been organized under the aegis of Angolan Heads Joao Lourenço and Congolese Félix Tshisekedi. The fourth and last dated meeting took place in February 2020 in Gatuna/Katuna. No meeting between the two leaders was held since, in particular because of the Pandemic of COVID-19. These relations were also empoisonned last year-2021, by the publication of the Israeli Pegasus Spy Software, which reported that Rwanda had used this software to hack the Ugandan Prime Minister’s phones between 2014 and 2021, Ruhakana Rugunda, and the Ugandan Foreign Minister in a position since 2015, Sam Kutesa. Rwanda had denounced a “defamation campaign”.
Everyone breathes ultimately because everyone was waiting with little patience the normalization of the relations of these two countries whose peoples are more than siblings. The Secretariat of the East African Community (EAC), “applauds the leadership and the governments of the Republic of Rwanda and the Republic of Uganda for their efforts towards reopening of the Gatuna/Katuna border post on 31rst Jan, 2022.” Just because their conflict has bruised a lot of the idelishment of the community. One wonders then if the Kigali concerns are now alleviated by Uganda to reopen the border and especially what these concerns are. But what is it is that the Old Fox Museveni, by opening the border, marks marvelous goals. First, the reopening of the border exponentially increases the popularity of his son General Muhoozi Kaineerugaba in Uganda and propels his image on the international scene. This opens up a free way to the Ugandan presidency in 2026, what it his ultimate and last wish. As for Rwanda, the whole population, from the simple peasant to the general manager, whispered at low voice: “Kare kose se, Twigiraga ibiki? Inzara ntiyari itwishe!” (Above all, what did we wait for and wo are we? The famine was going to kill us! “).