KIGALI - President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni yesterday arrived in the country on a four-day State visit.
The Ugandan Head of State touched down at Kigali International Airport at exactly 4 p.m., accompanied by the First Lady Janet Museveni and their daughter, Natasha Karugire.
President Paul Kagame and the First Lady Jeannette Kagame welcomed President Museveni and his family, at a colourful ceremony also attended by the Prime Minister Bernard Makuza.
Several cabinet Ministers from both countries, diplomatic corps as well as other top government and army officials from both countries were present at the airport to welcome President Museveni and his entourage.
Upon arrival, Museveni was handed a bouquet of flowers by 9-year old Naomi Ingabire before shaking hands with his host. The two Heads of State then proceeded to inspect a guard of honour mounted by the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF).
Shortly after greeting the waiting crowd, President Museveni proceeded to Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre to pay tribute to the over 250, 000 genocide victims laid to rest at the site.
After observing a moment of silence and laying a wreath, President Museveni who was accompanied by Foreign Affairs Ministers from both countries and the Minister of Local Government, James Musoni, said that what happened in Rwanda was an example of ideological bankruptcy.
Museveni said that the people who planned and executed the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi were harbouring an ideology so bankrupt that it should not be given room in present day Africa.
“The people who carried out the genocide suffered from ideological bankruptcy. It was fascism. These are people who wanted to exterminate a sub group of the people of Rwanda.
This is different to what is happening in North Africa. Violence can be there but this was not violence, this was deliberate. People wanted to exterminate others, this is a different kind of ideology,” Museveni said After visiting Gisozi, President Museveni headed to the Heroes cemetery near Amahoro National Stadium to pay tribute to the heroes buried there.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo, described the State visit as historic and a milestone in the bilateral relations of the two countries, noting that the visit will strengthen the already strong cooperation existing between the two states.
“The significance of this visit is that it is a visit to advance further the relationship between Rwanda and Uganda. It’s a mixture of serious business discussion but the state visit is always partly festive.
We will have some cultural parts of it, we will have a state dinner, President Museveni will be joining President Kagame during the end of the month community work (umuganda),” Mushikiwabo said.
Mushikiwabo noted that the Ugandan President’s visit is not only exciting to the citizens of both countries but will go a long way in cementing the relations between the two countries.
The two Ministers dispelled media speculation that there is some kind of tension in the relations, with Minister Kutesa noting that “he does not know of enemies who visit each other.”
“When people visit each other, it is not a sign that they are trying to solve some problems. It is instead a sign that they are friends. People don’t normally visit each other when they are enemies,” he said.
Kutesa added that through the JPC meeting, the two countries have agreed to strengthen major areas of cooperation including infrastructure development, ICT, agriculture, environment management, cross border trade, defence and governance.
President Museveni will today participate in Umuganda in Kanombe where a site for 12 year Basic education classrooms will be prepared. He will also visit the Free Trade Zone and Inyange Factory.