Rwanda-Uganda talks collapse in Kampala

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Nduhungirehe and Kutesa addressing press

On Friday, the second meeting of the Ad Hoc Commission on the Implementation of the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding between Rwanda and Uganda took place at Speke Resort Munyonyo on Lake Victoria shore.

However, after a whole over 7-hour long discussion, the talks collapsed after the two sides failed to find common ground.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs in charge of East African Community (EAC), Amb. Olivier Nduhungirehe, who led the Rwanda delegation, said the discussions were “deep, open, frank but cordial” and took over seven hours.

“No agreement on a solution to the most contentious issues (Uganda’s support to armed groups & illegal detention of Rwandans in Uganda). We agreed to refer the matter to our Heads of State,” Nduhungirehe said.

Victoria University

“In their wisdom, the facilitators proposed to the Uganda-n delegation to expel, from their territory, known leaders and members of the RNC and other armed groups, as an important confidence-building measure. This didn’t entail any admission of guilt or support. They refused,” Nduhungirehe tweeted.

He added: “The people on our border want to be sure that they will live in peace without being threatened by armed groups that we have mentioned that are operating in Uganda.”

Kutesa greets Nduhungirehe

Speaking at the joint press conference with Minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Kutesa who led the Ugandan delegation, Nduhungirehe said they don’t need to multiply meetings, “we don’t need to create commissions…We need to solve issues that our people are asking about”.

On failure of the talks, he said: “We will consult our Heads of State & agree on way forward on different proposals that were put on the table especially from the Rwandan side. I hope that in the near future, we could have good faith & good will towards solving the issues we have.”

In his turn, Kutesa accused Rwanda of infiltrating Uganda’s security agencies.

Kutesa said this is why most Rwandans are being detained in prisons “for trying to infiltrate security services”.

“We think they are on an infiltration exercise. We must address the issue of infiltration into our security agencies,” he added.

According to Kutesa, most of those in detention centres are thought to be spying on the country for their home government.

Issues

The Rwandan delegation said that there has been lack of commitment by Uganda in the implementation of the Luanda MoU and the Kigali Communiqué.

Rwanda maintains that Uganda continued to offer support to armed groups attempting to wreak terror on Rwanda.

Operatives and leaders of these groups continue to receive facilitation and safe passage in Uganda including by senior officials of the Government, Nduhungirehe told the meeting.

He also cited the continued arrest and illegal detention of Rwandans in Uganda which has not ceased despite the Kigali Communiqué which called for the immediate release of Rwandans detained in Uganda and to cease arrests.

The delegation head said that arbitrary arrest and illegal detention of Rwandan citizens in Uganda have continued, unabated, during the same period.

 “Just two weeks ago, on Monday 25th November 2019, more than 150 Rwandan citizens, who were living and working in Uganda, were rounded up in Kisoro District, and a few of them – 33 – were dumped at the border. The reason, as always, again, for this is because these people are Rwandan,” he added.

“We were disappointed to note once again that over the past months, the Ugandan media, including State-owned media, continued to spread demonstrably fake news about our country, our President and our Ministers, while praising our enemies. This is against the letter of the Kigali Communiqué and against the spirit of the Luanda MoU,” Nduhungirehe reminded the meeting.

He said the crisis was worsened by the border closure and is also about state sovereignty and security, as well as good neighbourliness.

“How can we trade when Rwandan businesspeople who legally cross the border are systematically arrested, tortured, with confiscation of their goods, shops and belongings?”

“How can we claim that free movement of goods and services is guaranteed, while free movement of people is impeded? The real border closure is exactly that! It’s the illegal arrest and detention of the very people who carry out trade,” Nduhungirehe said.

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