The Kabale District chairperson, Mr Patrick Besigye Keihwa, has asked Ugandans living in the districts neigbouring Rwanda to desist from crossing the border until the tension between the two countries is resolved.
Mr Keihwa, who is also the Uganda Local Government Association vice chairperson for western region, told local leaders to take lead in mobilising the residents against entering Rwanda to avoid losing their property and lives.
“At the Friday summit held at the no-man’s land, Katuna border post was not reopened for cross-border trade. I appeal to our people to avoid crossing into Rwanda using porous border points. If you must go to Rwanda, use the gazetted entry border posts through the immigration offices,” Mr Keihwa told the press in Kabale on Monday.
Last Friday, President Museveni and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame met at the border for a dialogue aimed at resolving the conflict between the two countries.
Mr Keihwa added that it is the duty of every local leader in the border communities to convene sensitisation meetings to warn the residents against any form of illegal trade and entry into Rwanda.
“Ugandans should concentrate on planting enough food for home consumption and for sale. In case Rwandans need [that food], they should cross to Uganda to get it but not Ugandans taking it to Rwanda,” Mr Keihwa said.
Ugandan districts bordering Rwanda are Kabale, Kisoro, Rubanda, Rukiga and Ntungamo. Four Ugandans have been shot dead in separate incidents by Rwandan security officials for crossing into Rwanda since the Kigali government closed the Gatuna border in February last year. The victims were accused by Rwandan security forces of smuggling goods into the country.
Other people have been arrested but released after spending days in detention inside Rwanda.
The mayor of Rwanda’s Nyagatare district, Mr Claudian Mushabe, at the handing over of the bodies of Ugandans killed in Rwanda last year, warned Ugandans against smuggling goods to Rwanda.
He claimed the killed Ugandans had reacted violently when Rwandan security officials arrested them.
However, the survivors refuted the Rwandan minister’s claims. They said the Rwandan security officials summarily shot them without provocation.
Katuna Town Council mayor Nelson Nshangabasheija and Ryakarimira Town Council mayor Enock Kazooba said the border closure has not only affected cross-border trade, but also social life of the local communities both in Rwanda and Uganda, who cannot visit their relatives or attend social functions on either side of the border.