Second Rwanda, Uganda meeting fails to take off

Saturday October 19 2019

Rwanda’s Minister of State in charge of East

Rwanda’s Minister of State in charge of East African Community Affairs Olivier Nduhungirehe greets Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa in Kigali on September 16, 2019, before the opening session of a meeting between officials of the two countries. PHOTO BY CYRIL NDEGEYA  

By The EastAfrican

A meeting between Uganda and Rwanda that should have taken place on Thursday as a follow up to the September 16 one in Kigali to ease tension between the neighbouring countries did not take place.
Following mediation by Angola’s President Joao Lourenco and a first meeting in Kigali where top government officials from both sides spent half a day locked in talks negotiating a path to normal diplomatic relations, Uganda agreed to organise the second meeting within 30 days, which elapsed on Thursday.

On Thursday, Rwandan officials said they had not been contacted by their Ugandan counterparts for the second bilateral meeting.
The meetings are meant to fast-track the implementation of an agreement signed in August by both President Paul Kagame and President Museveni in Angola, to end two-year long hostilities between the neighbours.
Key on the agenda for the now missed Kampala meeting was further discussions on the reopening of their common border for goods and people.

The border has been closed since late February, and Rwanda stopped its citizens from crossing into Uganda and restricted the entry of Ugandan goods into the country.
Business community and communities in both countries have suffered effects of the impasse over the border closure.
Ugandan exporters are desperate to access their Rwandan and Burundian markets, while Rwandan markets have run out of stock of popular Ugandan products especially beverages and foodstuffs, cement and consumables, with no adequate or in certain cases expensive alternatives.

And with the meeting now uncertain, it is unclear whether the situation will change any time soon.
But Ugandan officials who spoke on condition of anonymity told The EastAfrican that the bilateral meeting “is in the offing” and that Rwandan officials will be “informed in due course.”
Last week, Rwandan companies complained of increased cost of doing business due to closed border through which they imported packaging materials for their products.