Sam Kutesa, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uganda, has asked Rwandan ministers mandated as mandated by their leaders to operationalise the Memorandum of Understanding signed on the 21st of August 2019 in Luanda, Angola by implementing it.
The Memorandum of Understanding reinforces, as has been said, key African principles, one of which is African solutions to African problems.
The MoU also underlines the spirit of Pan-Africanism, which Uganda considers as a critical bedrock of regional integration efforts and is vital to economic, social and political progress.
“Rwanda and Uganda are geographically linked as neighbours. Our two countries also have long and deep historical, economic and culture ties. We know from history, during the partition of Africa, new borders were put in place sowing new states which had no basis in culture, history or economics,” Kutesa noted.
The artificial borders disrupted communities living along the border, separating clans and families, disrupting trade and pastoral routes.
“What we now know as part of Uganda ended up Rwanda and part of Rwanda ended in Uganda,” Kutesa told the Monday Kigali meeting.
He said Uganda in fact is home to people of Rwandese descent, Banyarwanda, who are constitutionally recognised as one of Uganda’s tribes.
“What this tells us is that our people are interconnected and that the current state of our bilateral relations has affected them. They question and desire for better.”
“My delegation is, therefore, glad to be here because Uganda seeks openly cooperative and collaborative relations with Rwanda, like other neighbouring countries and states of the continent.”
He said the two countries, more than anybody else, are anxious and need to see progress.
“Therefore, we should consider immediate steps to normalise relations. On behalf of my delegation, I wish to reaffirm that Uganda is committed on peaceful and friendly coexistence with Rwanda.”
“It is our expectation that this meeting will launch the process of normalisation of relations in a tangible way. We also expect that we can agree on parameters and specific timelines for implementation of this Memorandum of Understanding.”
Going forward, Kutesa said it was essential that every effort is made to de-escalate the build-up of tension between our two countries.
“And, finally, I wish to reiterate the commitment of Uganda to implementing the Memorandum of Understanding and we look forward to working with Rwanda and the facilitators of Angola and DRC in its implementation.
Rwanda makes its case
Amb. Olivier Nduhungirehe, Rwanda’s Minister of State in charge of the East African Community told the delegates that concerns that hinder bilateral relations and good neighbourliness have persisted.
He cited alleged support Uganda reportedly provides to elements hostile to Rwanda, the arbitrary, detention and torture of Rwandans in Uganda and acts of economic sabotage.
“It should be our collective commitment that the Luanda MoU will be the final and decisive process that will bring back normalcy, trust and confidence between our two sisterly countries,” Nduhungirehe said.
Nduhungirehe urged his counterparts to see the ongoing process as “a new opportunity and momentum for normal relations and good neighbourliness” between the two nations.
Manuel Domingos Augusto, Angola’s Minister of External Relations, said that organising the meeting demonstrated the political will and full willingness of the two leaders to implement what they agreed to in Luanda.
“This is a very positive sign and is also proof that we all believe that we can find African solutions for African problems,” he said. “It is indeed with this spirit that Angola remains available and committed in this process and we will be doing everything possible to make sure that our brothers from Uganda and Rwanda can get together on finding solutions for the different issues that now they face in their bilateral relations.”
He added: “We know the importance of these two countries for the peace and stability of our region but also of our continent.”
Gilbert Kankonde Malamba, DR Congo’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Security and Customary Affairs, stated that from the time his President [Félix Tshisekedi] took over in Kinshasa in January, the Congolese leader made it his duty to see a climate of peace in the entire region.
As African tradition demands, he said, it is not possible to see a neighbour’s on fire and you do not intervene.