President Museveni will not attend African Union’s extraordinary summit in Continental Free Trade Area in Rwanda, the presidency has confirmed.
The summit convened by the new AU Chairperson and Rwanda President Paul Kagame is scheduled to take place on March 21, 2018.
African leaders are expected to sign a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) agreement that will seek to reduce trade restrictions and increase trade amongst the 54 nations at the same event.
However, according to the Senior Presidential Press Secretary Don Wanyama, Museveni will not be able to attend as he is engaged during the time.
“The President has delegated the Minister of Foreign Affiars Sam Kutesa to represent him. Uganda remains committed to the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) and will ensure its implantation,” Wanyama said.
There have been concerns between the two states Rwanda and Uganda that have seen their diplomacy deteriorate over time after Rwanda accused Ugandan intelligence officials of kidnapping and torturing Rwandans.
“Kagame expected it. He knew Museveni wouldn’t attend in person,” a highly placed source told NilePost on condition of anonymity.
However, Wanyama maintains that there is nothing strange with the president canceling his trip to Rwanda; “He (Museveni) got other pressing engagements.”
It should be noted that Kagame also shunned the recently concluded Joint EAC Heads of State Retreat on Infrastructure and Health Financing and Development which took place in Kampala. Kagame instead sent his infrastructure minister James Musoni.
Museveni joins Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari who has already expressed regrets for not attending the summit albeit for other reasons.
A statement issued by the Presidency of Nigeria and quoted by AFP, an agency says the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will not be joining other Afican leaders in Kigali this week and will also not sign the CFTA.
Nigeria is Africa’s largest producer of oil and also Africa’s largest economy and its absence will knead at the move by the African Union to make Africa the biggest trade bloc in the world.
In the reasons advanced, Nigeria says the deal is rushed and hasn’t taken broad consultations from business leaders and the Private sector.
The African Union is yet to comment on the pull out of Nigeria.