Why Rwanda requested that Kampala meeting be pushed

Rwanda and Ugandan officials, the meetings are attended by ministers from Angola and DR Congo, the two facilitators.

The second meeting between Rwanda and Uganda which had been slated for Monday next week in Kampala has been postponed to a yet to be confirmed date at the request of Rwanda.

This meeting is a follow up to another one held in Kigali on September 16 and brought together ministerial delegations from both countries as they work to implement the Memorandum of Understanding signed in Luanda, Angola, in August.

Facilitated by the heads of state of Angola and DR Congo, the MoU aims at normalizing the strained relations between Rwanda and Uganda.

Initially, the Kampala meeting had been expected to take place on October 16, exactly 30 days after the first one in Kigali, but it did not materialize, and November 18th was communicated as the new date.

However, according to Rwanda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, both countries will have to wait longer to have the meeting.

In an interview with The New Times on Thursday, Olivier Nduhungirehe, the Minister of State in charge of the East African Community confirmed that Rwanda has written to Uganda asking that the meeting be postponed.

According to Nduhungirehe, the reason why government asked for the meeting to be pushed was that several members of the delegation that had to represent Rwanda will not be available on that date due to other engagements,

“It is true we have written to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uganda informing them that unfortunately, there are several members of the Rwandan delegation who will not be available on November 18,” he said.

“We were proposing that the meeting in Kampala is postponed to a mutually convenient date that can be arranged through diplomatic channels.”

The September 16th Kigali meeting is said to have ended without a major breakthrough after both parties met in Kigali to review progress on the implementation of the Luanda MoU.

Among the highlights of the September meeting, the Rwandan delegation served their Ugandan counterparts with a list of Rwandan nationals who are illegally held in Uganda.

At the time, Nduhungirehe told the delegates at the joint Ad hoc Commission meeting that persistent arbitrary detention and torture of innocent Rwandans in Uganda was one of the issues that have undermined bilateral relations between the two neighbors.

Besides Rwanda and Ugandan delegates, the meeting in Kigali was also attended by ministers from Angola and DR Congo, the two facilitators.

Early this year, in March, Kigali issued an advisory on travelling to Uganda saying it could not guarantee its citizens’ safety there after many were continuously rounded up and arrested and tortured without following due process.

In the September meeting, Uganda promised to verify information related to the Rwandans detained there.

Among others, the Kampala follow up meeting is expected to discuss issues of mutual concern such as the free movement of persons, goods, and services across the common border.

Uganda also featured prominently in a report by a UN Group of Experts released in December 2018 that detailed anti-Rwanda militia activities in the region. 

The report confirmed that Uganda was a major source of recruits for Rwandan rebel outfits based in eastern DR Congo.