KIGALI - It was a joyous mood, Saturday, as Ugandans, Rwandans, and friends of Uganda gathered at the residence of the Ugandan High Commissioner to Rwanda in Kigali to observe the East African country’s 49th Independence Day – a day earlier.
Uganda attained its independence on October 9, 1962 from the United Kingdom.
The event was attended by several Rwandan cabinet ministers, and members of the diplomatic corps accredited to Rwanda.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Louise Mushikiwabo, who was the guest of honour, congratulated Ugandans, saying that Rwanda was equally honoured to join them in celebrating the day.
Mushikiwabo noted that the two countries have maintained very close bilateral relations, adding that the relationship would continue to prosper no matter what challenges that might arise.
“I take this opportunity to reiterate and salute the excellent relations existing between our two countries. The relations between Rwanda and Uganda are excellent and this is the way it should be; it is the way it has been and it is the way it will always be, because we are brothers and sisters.
“Our brotherly relations have stood the test of time and demonstrated the fact that no matter what challenges; our people are one and nothing can break the bonds of unity and common destiny.”
She added that President Yoweri Museveni’s recent state visit to Rwanda testified the ongoing cementing of relations and further cooperation on bilateral and multi-lateral issues between the two countries.
She commended Kampala for providing support in the voluntary repatriation of Rwandan refugees from different parts of Uganda.
The Ugandan envoy, Richard Kabonero, noted that, through the cooperation between the two countries, a lot had been achieved including the just-concluded memorandum of understanding on sharing of expertise in the judicial system.
“This year has been remarkable as far as strengthening our relations is concerned. We have achieved a lot such as the recent state visit by our President, and the continued voluntary repatriation of refugees returning to their country,” he noted.
Some Ugandans who spoke to The New Times expressed happiness for the anniversary, despite their country’s failure to qualify for the next African Cup of Nations tournament, the same day.
“We are really happy to celebrate in Rwanda. I am happy but not so much. As you may know, Uganda Cranes has failed to qualify for the African Cup of Nations, which is sad news to us,” said Sunday Tebusweke, a Ugandan who lives in the Nyamirambo suburb of Kigali.
The Ugandan soccer team missed a golden opportunity to qualify for the continental showpiece after a goalless draw with Kenya in Kampala.