President Paul Kagame of Rwanda today for the first time spoke out about the cause of the recent frosty relationship between Kigali and Kampala that led to the closure of Katuna border on February 28.
Speaking at the 16th edition of the National Leadership Retreat, which got underway today at Rwanda Defence Force Combat Training Centre in Gabiro, Gatsibo District, Kagame said his country had been provoked to take certain actions.
The retreat, also known as Umwiherero, will run through March 12.
It brings together senior leaders from Central Government, Local Government, parastatals and the private sector to discuss various issues of national development.
He said: “We have been provoked, people have crossed our borders, killed our people and we have not responded. We were able to see someone wanted to drag us into this mess. When they have dragged you into this sort of problem,then you start looking the same.”
“What remains to discuss with our brothers and sisters is the movement of people. We have Rwandans who go to Uganda who have been in prison, in their dozens, some of them are in military prison, others nobody knows where they are.”
He said the standoff between Rwanda and Uganda will be costly.
“All that comes costly, diverts resources, attention, we should be prepared for that. That is the price of stability and continued well being. It means you have to keep doing the best you can, make progress and defend the progress you are making.”
“When I hear somebody say no one can destabilise their country, I agree. No one should actually be destabilising that country but that country should also not be destabilising others, I think it is a fair deal.”
Kagame said almost every week, there are people who are brought and dumped across the border, and when you asked some of them, they say they have been in prison for 2 years.
He said whenever he has asked Uganda about the prisoners, authorities here would say they were illegal immigrants.
“But they were in prison for 2 years, with no charges, until they pack them in a truck and take them across the border.”
Kagame concluded: “I have learned lessons of our struggles, of the hardships of our country. One of them is I am not in control of what somebody else thinks about me or plans to do against me. But I must be in control of something, and that is what happens here.”
Last week, Uganda through the minister of Forieng Affairs, Sam Kutesa, denied charges that it was harbouring elements out to destabilise Rwanda.
Uganda also denied claims of torture and harassment of Rwandans saying whoever is arrested is handled according to the due process of the law.
President Museveni last week stopped government officials from responding to Rwanda’s claims in the media.