It’s now one year since Rwanda closed its border with Uganda at Katuna\Gatuna.
As tensions escalated, Kampala and Kigali blamed each other for spying and harbouring destabilisers, affecting trade and Rwanda issuing a travel advisory.
In August last year, Rwandan President Paul Kagame and President Museveni signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Luanda, Angola, that was meant to end the standoff between the two countries.
On Sunday, Mr Museveni and Mr Kagame were again in Angola where they resolved to meet again at Katuna border on February 21 as they seek ways to permanently end hostilities. The two governments also promised not to support “destabilisers” as well as protecting citizens human rights.
This is a major milestone if what will be resolved is implemented because the two nations have indeed paid a price due to the unending tensions. Several Ugandans have reportedly been shot dead at the border by Rwandan security forces after being accused of illegally entering Uganda to smuggle goods.
The Ugandan Ministry of Trade indicated that about $200 million (Shs735 billion) in earnings have been lost due to the border closure. Kigali has also lost some substantial amount of money due to the standoff.
Worse still, the immediate victims of this standoff are medium and small-scale traders, who earn a living from the cross-border trade. A simple income earned selling or buying goods daily across the border between Rwanda and Uganda means a lot to these traders and anything that curtails that routine is quite devastating.
Every time the two leaders meet, optimism has been raised that the standoff between the two countries whose people and governments have a lot in common especially in the area of political and economic struggles, would come to an end.
The participation of Mr Felix Tshisekedi, the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, as the overseer of the implementation of the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding, means that the tensions do not only concern Uganda and Rwanda, but all countries in the Great Lakes region and beyond.
Therefore, there is need for mutual respect and the renewal of trust between both the citizens and leaders of the two countries. It is high time the two governments and their leaders ensured that tranquillity and prosperity in the two countries and the entire region prevails for the good of everyone.