Uganda has invited Rwanda for an ad-hoc meeting to discuss and verify the implementation of an agreement that both countries signed in 2019 to put an end to their long standing bilateral tensions.
An invitation letter sent by Uganda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gen Jeje Odongo, was received by his Rwandan counterpart, Vincent Biruta, on August 30, sources from both governments confirmed.
However, Rwanda denied that there were plans for the meeting “for now.”
“No meeting is planned for now, but Rwanda remains open to follow-up dialogue on the issues raised. However the problems persist because Uganda continues to abduct, arrest, torture and deport Rwandans,” Yolande Makolo, Rwanda government Spokesperson told The EastAfrican.
“As we have said repeatedly, the situation will only improve if Uganda stops supporting political and armed groups hostile to Rwanda, and spreading false information about the impasse between our two countries.”
This comes at a time when the two countries continue to bicker over espionage, support for rebels and mistreatment of citizens across each other’s borders.
Their presidents have also recently publicly traded barbs on TV, in what appears to be the strongest signal that diplomatic and bilateral relations have once again fallen apart.
President Yoweri Museveni, in an interview that aired on France24 on September 8, said, “We had discussions long ago with the mediation of Angola some years ago. I have not seen the border being opened,” when asked why the border was closed and when it would be opened.
President Museveni, too, downplayed the Pegasus international spying expose allegations against Rwanda.
“I did not follow it up, but it is a waste of time. Spying to do what? If I want secrets, you will not know because the secrets are in my head. They are not on microphones,” Museveni said.
The espionage allegations escalated recently when a Ugandan academic of Rwandan origin working in Uganda was taken away by intelligence personnel and briefly arrested on suspicion that he spies for Rwanda.
He was, however, released two days later without formal charges being pressed.
Earlier on September 5, President Paul Kagame accused the Ugandan government of normalising the mistreatment of Rwandans in Uganda.
“No Ugandan gets problems in Rwanda but literally all Rwandans who go there are worried. Some have even regretted visiting Uganda as others crippled because of the way they are arrested and tortured,” President Kagame said.
“It appears that these actions are now part of their politics, now they do not even hide this fact.”
Since March 2019, both countries have exchanged bodies of their nationals, with at least six Ugandans and an unspecified number of Rwandans.
Presidents Kagame and Museveni have met four times since 2019, mainly to iron out their differences under the arbitration of Angola and DRC, while officials from both countries have met on several occasions to implement their presidents’ resolutions.
*Written by Ivan R Mugisha