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Rwanda Softens Stance on Border Closure With Uganda

 

Government officials in Kigali have announced that they willing to allow Rwandans to travel to Uganda if Kampala authorities continue to work on Kigali concerns.

In a press conference in Kigali on Wednesday Rwanda’s Foreign affairs minister Vicente Biruta hailed Uganda’s move on Tuesday which saw 9 Rwandans set free by the Military court martial.

“We welcome yesterday’s decision by the Government of Uganda to release 9 Rwandans. It is a good step in the implementation of the Luanda agreement, if the Rwanda government is convinced that there is goodwill on the Ugandan side & that Rwandans are safe to go to Uganda, they will be allowed to do so.” Biruta said.

“Though this gives hope that we are making steps in the implementation of the Luanda MoU and much as this is appositive step, we still have many Rwandans arbitrarily detained in Uganda” he continued.

Rwanda has since February imposed a trade embargo on Uganda and stopped her citizens from crossing over.

Kigali accuses Uganda of supporting Rwandan rebels, arrest and harassment of Rwandan nationals and economic sabotage.

On its part, Kampala accuses Kigali of slapping a trade embargo on Uganda; aggressive espionage; closing the Gatuna border; uprooting prominent Ugandans from the Rwandan economy and orchestrating a hate campaign against Uganda and its officials.

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In August Last year the Presidents of the two countries met in Angolan capital Luanda and signed an MoU to defuse tensions and it was out of Uganda’s commitment to the MoU that authorities in Kampala decided to drop charges and consequently release 9 Rwanda who were being charged with unlawful possession of fire arms in the general Military Court Martial.

The freed persons are Mugabe Nelson, RtdSgt Rene Rutagungira, Etienne Nsanzabahizi, Claude Yakalemye, Emmanuel Rwamuchwo, CPL Nzeyamana Herman, Munyagabe Adrien, Urayeneza Gilbert and Augustine Rutayisire.

They were handed over to Rwanda’s ambassador to Uganda Maj Gen Frank Mugambaje on Wednesday morning by Uganda’s Foreign affairs Minister Sam Kutesa.

On their release and repatriation back to Rwanda, Kutesa said it was entirely out of Uganda’s “goodwill” and commitment to deescalate the tensions between the two countries

“To withdraw the charges, for us we think it’s an act of good will which we hope will be reciprocated by the Rwanda government by dealing with the other issues we have raised with them,” Kutesa said

On other Rwandans still detained in Uganda Minister Kutesa said “We have a list of names that were given to us by Rwanda through high commission, many have been dealt with and have been deported through legal means and being signed for by the immigration authorities of. Many of the have returned.

In the last two months, the government of Rwanda relaxed restriction on her nationals crossing to Uganda with those having ‘valid reasons’ allowed to cross to Uganda via Kagitumba and Gatuna border points.

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