President Museveni and Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame have agreed to push for joint regional peace and stability by addressing the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo as the East African Community Block.
The two leaders on Sunday held a bilateral meeting over a range of issues at State House Entebbe. President Kagame is in Uganda on a private visit.
Museveni and the First Lady Janet Kataha Museveni invited President Kagame to a dinner to honour their son who is also the Commander Land Forces Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba. Gen. Muhoozi is celebrating his 48th birthday.
“I want to thank H.E Kagame for responding positively to Lt Gen Muhoozi’s invitation and coming to pay a visit to Uganda after years of not coming here. I also held bilateral talks with H.E President Paul Kagame on a number of issues, especially on regional peace, stability and cooperation. I welcome H.E Kagame to Uganda,” the president said.
On Arrival at State House Entebbe, Kagame who is in Uganda for a one-day private visit was received by the President Museveni, First Lady J and the First Son who is also the Commander Land Forces.
Museveni said that the problems affecting the region like the crisis in Congo needs collective approach from all regional members. “This time we must insist on working together because these people have suffered a lot. I told President Kenyatta that if we don’t come in as a region, Congo may become like Sudan,” Museveni said.
Kagame noted that the Congolese problem should not be a responsibility for others and said that leaders and all parties must talk to solve the crisis once and for all.
“They need to talk without leaving anyone behind,” Kagame said. Museveni also updated Kagame on the talks that were held in Nairobi, Kenya between the government of Congo and the M23 rebels in the recent clashes.
Kagame last visited Uganda in march 2018. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba is credited for his role in restoring the Uganda – Rwanda relations
The two countries recently saw their long-term cordial relations take a turn for the worse in 2019, when Rwanda closed its border at Gatuna/Katuna.
The Rwandan head of state accused Uganda of harbouring persons who posed security threats to Rwanda. He also accused Uganda of harassing and arresting Rwandan nationals in Uganda, although the Ugandan government denied these allegations.
Although the border was fully re-opened recently after a two-year hiatus following talks between Kagame and first son Muhoozi, both governments confirmed that there were still some pending issues, which experts believe that Kagame’s visit will now try to diffuse.
Rwanda and Uganda enjoy very close historical ties, ranging from culture, backgrounds of the two presidents among others. This made them strategic security and trade partners before the 2019 stand-off.
Before the border closure, Rwanda was Uganda’s third largest market in the East African region after Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
According to a report from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), Uganda in 2016 exported items worth USD 226m to Rwanda and imported items USD 12m from Rwanda. This balance of trade with Rwanda makes it even more strategic, when compared to business with Kenya.
With Kagame’s visit, the negotiations to put the stand-off to an end are seemingly heading in the positive direction and both countries could go back to enjoying a cordial relationship that will spur growth and peace in the region.