Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is set to meet his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame today in a bid to resolve tensions between the two countries which led to the closure of a common border.
Today’s meeting will be at the border town of Katuna to discuss the reopening of the main crossing, a year after Kigali shut it down. The two leaders are expected to sign documents that will see the two countries exchange prisoners detained on either side.
Rwanda, accuses Uganda of backing rebel groups and dissidents who want to bring down the government in Kigali.
Kigali has also accused Kampala of targeting its nationals, with the government advising Rwandans to avoid Uganda. Museveni has denied that his country supports the rebel groups and has instead accused Kigali of trying to violate Uganda’s sovereignty.
The long-simmering feud snarled regional trade in February when Rwanda closed its busiest road crossing – known as Katuna to Ugandans and Gatuna to Rwandans – to Ugandan cargo trucks. Rwanda briefly opened the crossing in June before closing it again.
As the two leaders meet in Katuna today, traders and those living in the border area will hope the border crossing will be reopened – for good this time.
Speaking to the media ahead of the event, Minister David Bahati said business at the border town will be disrupted for more than three hours as security will be tightened to facilitate the meeting. The guarantors of the Luanda peace pact between the two leaders Angolan president Joao Lourenco, and Felix Tshisekedi of DRC are expected to attend the meeting.
Foreign Affairs minister San Kuteesa said the exchange of detainees is one of the actions agreed in previous meetings as the two countries move to ease tensions that have existed for years.
During the last meeting held in Kigali, Rwandan authorities raised three new requests to their Ugandan counterparts for consideration before the presidents meet;
Rwanda asked Uganda to withdraw a passport issued to a Rwandan national, Charlotte Mukankusi, who belongs to an opposition group that is outlawed in Kigali. Many Rwandans have family ties with Uganda, which they use to obtain passports in Kampala.
Rwanda also wants Uganda to investigate Self-Worth Initiative, a human rights organisation based in Kampala, that has been critical of Rwanda over alleged human rights abuses.
Kigali is also pushing Uganda to handover two individuals who allegedly participated in an attack on Rwanda in October in which at least 14 people were killed.