Rwanda has announced it will open its Gatuna/ Katuna border with Uganda on January 31 as a step closer to normalizing ties between the two neighbouring countries after the visit of the Commander Land Forces, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba to President Paul Kagame.
“…in line with the communique of the Quadripartite Summit held at Gatuna/Katuna on February, 21, 2020, the government of Rwanda wishes to inform the public that the Gatuna border post between Rwanda and Uganda will be reopened from January, 31, 2022,”a statement by the Rwanda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released on Thursday read in part.
Rwanda said that for other land border posts, health authorities are working with their counterparts in Uganda to put in place measures to facilitate movement in regards Covid.
The Rwandan government noted they are happy that there is an ongoing process to ensure the relations between the two neighbouring countries return to normalcy.
“The government of Rwanda remains committed to ongoing efforts to resolve pending issues between Rwanda and Uganda and believes today’s announcement will contribute positively to the speedy normalization of relations between the two countries,” Rwanda said.
The development comes on the backdrop of the visit of the Commander of Land Forces in the UPDF, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba who also doubles as the Senior Presidential Advisor on Special Operations where he held talks with President Kagame in regards the relations between the two countries.
Whereas details of the meeting are scanty, the Office of the President in Rwanda described the engagement as cordial.
Ray of hope
By Rwanda allowing to reopen its border which has been closed since February 2019, there seems to be a ray of hope in diffusing the tensions between the two neighbouring countries that had gone on for over five years.
Past efforts including President Museveni’s several meetings with his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame have not yielded so much in the past.
However, the latest development sheds light on the role played by Lt Gen Muhoozi in ensuring a return to normalcy between the two countries.
Many believe that he has been able to pull it off because despite he understands the problem between the two leaders but is also believed to have a positive view towards Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
Lt Gen Muhoozi recently described Kagame as his uncle and warned anyone against fighting him.
Since 2017, the relationship between Uganda and Rwanda have been at their lowest with both countries trading accusations against each other.
Rwanda accuses Uganda of habouring rebels plotting to destabilize their government on top of arresting its citizens but the Kampala establishment denied the same.
In return, Uganda accused Rwanda of sending spies to Kampala, especially in the security forces.
The cold war saw Rwanda close its border with Uganda in 2019 and any citizens wishing to cross from Kigali are not allowed.
In 2019, Presidents Museveni and Kagame signed an agreement to end the bickering and a year letter, both countries signed an extradition treaty in a bid to normalize ties.
However, the cold relations have continued.
For example, a number of Ugandans have either being killed or kidnapped by Rwandan security forces from Ugandan soil in Kisoro with the latest being a Special Forces Command soldier Pte Baruku Muhuba, attached to 35th Brigade who was kidnapped in November last year as he patrolled with colleagues in Kisoro.
In an interview last year, when asked about the closure of the border between the two countries, President Museveni insisted that Uganda has never closed its border but rather her neighbours did.
“You go and ask the border. I am not the one who closed it. We had discussions (with Kagame) long ago with mediation of Angola and I have not seen the border being opened,” Museveni said in an exclusive interview with France 24 in September, 2021.