By Maniraguha Ferdinand
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has ordered Ugandans not to cross to Rwanda or do so at their own risk, a move that signals a deepening of the prolonged feud between these once sister countries.
The directives were given by President Museveni through a letter addressed to Resident District Commissioners especially those in Districts on the border with Rwanda.
“The President has sent a directive to you all the RDC’s (resident district commissioners) especially those in Districts bordering with Rwanda, to inform Ugandans of the criminal Rwanda government policy of shooting smugglers that are not armed, although what they are doing is illegal” Esther M Mbayo, Minister in Charge of Presidency wrote in the letter that got leaked to the media,
Mbayo went on to warn Ugandans who had in their schedule to go to Rwanda. “Ugandans should stop going to Rwanda or those who go should do so at their own risk”.
Since March 2020, Rwanda has also advised its nationals to avoid crossing to Uganda, over ill treatment they get in the hands of Uganda’s security agencies.
Through the letter, Uganda claimed that they are Rwandan soldiers who cross to Uganda to kidnap people, and “the concerned agencies are already briefed on how to deal with that provocation”.
Things could be worse between Rwanda and Uganda and hinder efforts that are being made to mediate in the feud between both countries by Presidents João Lourenço of Angola, and Félix Tshisekedi of Democratic Republic of Congo.
Rwanda has not commented on the letter.
The virtual meeting of the ad hoc commission for the normalisation of relations between Uganda and Rwanda which ended in June 2020 took no promising decision on issues between two countries.
Rwanda has accused Uganda of harboring its enemies, illegally arresting and torturing its citizens as well as economic sabotage. Uganda accuses Rwanda of sending spies to its territory and closing the common border of Gatuna among others.
In August 2019, Rwanda and Uganda agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding that were aimed at ending years of hostilities between the two countries.