After being closed for three years, Rwanda reopens borders with Uganda for a “speedy normalization” of relations between the two countries.
Rwanda will re-open on January 31 a border crossing with Uganda, Rwanda’s foreign ministry said on Twitter on January 28.
The border has been closed for almost three years because of tensions fueled by accusations of espionage and support for each other’s dissidents.
Rwanda repeatedly accused Uganda of supporting rebel groups planning to overthrow Paul Kagame. It also argues Rwandans are incarcerated for reasons it doesn’t understand.
On the other hand, Uganda accused Rwanda of conducting illegal espionage activities in the country.
“Rwanda has taken note that there is a process to solve issues raised by Rwanda, as well as commitments made by the government of Uganda to address remaining obstacles […]. Today’s announcement will contribute positively to the speedy normalization of relations between the two countries”, the Rwanda’s ministry said in the statement.
Yet, both countries had already signed a pact in August 2019 in an effort resume cross-border activities as soon as possible. They had agreed to respect each other’s sovereignty and to refrain from actions that could destabilize their countries. Several summits have been carried out since then to appease tensions.
Rwanda and Uganda have long harboured mutual suspicions and hostilities, partly stemming from historical ties between both countries’ politics and security.
Paul Kagame, Rwanda’s official leader since 2000, and Yoweri Museveni, at the head of Uganda since 1986, have a long history in common.
Kagame, 64, fled to and grew up in Uganda. He fought alongside Museveni’s rebel army that brought him in power. Kagame then led the rebel force which invaded Rwanda in 1990 and ended the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
Both countries invaded the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1998 to overthrow Laurent-Désiré Kabila, who was formerly backed by Museveni and Kagame to take power. But the armies exchanged fire at several occasions which raised tensions between the two countries.
The move to re-open the border followed a meeting in Kigali last week between Kagame and Museveni’s son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba who is believed by the public to prepare to take over from his father.
Rwanda’s external trade primarily relies on a corridor through Uganda and Kenya until the Indian Ocean.