Cross border trade to resume as Uganda, Rwanda sign pact

Uganda and Rwandan leaders have agreed to respect each other’s sovereignty and of neighbouring countries, refrain from subversive activities in the territory of the other and eliminate all factors that may create such perception. 

The leaders resolved to respect and protect the rights and freedoms of the nationals of either party residing or transiting in their national territories, in accordance with laws of their countries and desist from financing, training, and infiltration of destabilizing forces.  

This is part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame of Rwanda, to resolve tensions existing between the two countries. The memorandum was signed in the Angolan capital Luanda on Wednesday.  

The pact indicates that the two countries will resume cross-border activities, including the movement of persons and goods. The presidents also undertook, in the spirit of Pan-Africanism and regional cooperation, to comprehensively cooperate in politics, security, defence, trade, and culture.  

The leaders of Angola and DR Congo are the facilitators of the agreement whose signing began with a quadripartite summit on July 12, where the four leaders met and agreed to begin a resolution process.  

To implement the resolutions, the leaders agreed to establish an Adhoc commission headed by ministers of foreign affairs and composed of ministers of Internal Affairs/Administration and heads of intelligence, to see this through.

Diplomatic relations between Uganda and Rwanda nearly came to a standstill when Rwanda closed its border to Uganda in February this year, also warning and preventing its nationals from travelling across. Rwanda has accused Uganda of harbouring and facilitating rebel elements fighting against Kagame’s government and mistreatment of Rwandans living in Uganda. Likewise, Uganda accused Rwanda of destabilising security and stability within Uganda through espionage. 

Museveni thanked his Angolan counterpart, Joao Manuel Lourenco, for overseeing a reinforcement process that has culminated into Uganda and Rwanda signing a pact to improve their political and economic relations.  

“I thank President Lourenco and Felix Tshisekedi of DR Congo for coming in so that we share the information we had and ensuring that we have a communiqué with Rwanda,” he said.  

Museveni noted that he was already in touch with Kagame to seek a resolution on the issues between the two countries when presidents Lourenco and Tshisekedi invited him to the summit.    

“I was already in touch with President Kagame through our own channels but this came as a reinforcement. We are just re-affirming what we have always held as principles of the African Union,” he said during a media briefing at the plush gardens of the Presidential Palace in Luanda.  

Addressing the media, host President Lourenco congratulated Presidents Museveni and Kagame for making the signing of the agreement possible.  

“The signing alone cannot replace the problem,” he said. “The solution resides in the political will of the leaders to take full commitment to respect what they have signed and we are very certain they will do that.”  

Co-facilitator President Tshisekedi was also full of praise for the two principals, calling them “great presidents” who had seen the need to end the conflict and consider the superior needs of their nations.  

President Dennis Sassou Nguesso of Congo-Brazzaville, who was a chief guest by virtue of being chair of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, said the agreement was a reflection of well-known African traditions of solving problems through dialogue.

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