Following the visit of Commander Land Forces, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, to President Paul Kagame, Rwanda has declared that it will open its Gatuna/ Katuna border with Uganda on January 31, bringing the two neighboring countries one step closer to repairing relations.
“The government of Rwanda wishes to inform the public that the Gatuna border post between Rwanda and Uganda will be reopened starting January 31, 2022,” according to a statement posted by Rwanda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday.
Rwanda’s health authorities are working with their Ugandan counterparts to put in place mechanisms to ease Covid movement at additional land border posts, according to the country’s statement.
The Rwandan administration stated that it is pleased that a process is underway to restore normalcy to relations between the two neighboring countries.
“The Rwandan government remains committed to ongoing efforts to settle outstanding concerns between Rwanda and Uganda, and thinks that today’s declaration will contribute positively to the rapid restoration of relations between the two countries,” Rwanda said.
The news follows the visit of Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the UPDF’s Commander of Land Forces and Senior Presidential Advisor on Special Operations, who met with President Kagame to discuss bilateral relations.
Despite the lack of facts about the meeting, the Rwandan President’s Office portrayed it as pleasant.
A ray of optimism
By enabling Rwanda to reopen its border, which has been closed since February 2019, there appears to be a ray of hope for easing the five-year-old hostilities between the two neighboring countries.
President Museveni’s previous attempts, including many talks with his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame, have failed to achieve results.
However, the most recent event throws light on Lt Gen Muhoozi’s involvement in restoring normalcy between the two countries.
Many feel he was able to pull it off because, while he knows the conflict between the two leaders, he is also thought to have a favorable opinion of Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
Lt Gen Muhoozi recently referred to Kagame as his uncle and advised people not to resist him.
Relations between Uganda and Rwanda have been at an all-time low since 2017, with both countries hurling allegations against each other.
Rwanda claims Uganda of harboring rebels seeking to undermine their government in addition to arresting its citizens, but the Kampala government denies this.
Uganda accused Rwanda of sending spies to Kampala, particularly in the security forces, in retaliation.
Rwanda closed its border with Uganda in 2019 due to the cold war, and citizens trying to pass from Kigali are not permitted.
Presidents Museveni and Kagame signed an agreement in 2019 to halt their squabbles, and in a year letter, both nations signed an extradition treaty in an effort to repair relations.
However, the icy relationship has persisted.
A number of Ugandans have been slain or kidnapped by Rwandan security forces in Kisoro, the most recent being a Special Forces Command soldier Pte Baruku Muhuba, belonging to the 35th Brigade, who was taken in November last year while patrolling with comrades in Kisoro.
When asked about the closure of the border between the two countries in a recent interview, President Museveni replied that Uganda’s border had never been closed, but that her neighbors had.
“You go to the border and inquire.” I wasn’t the one who shut the door. In an exclusive interview with France, Museveni added, “We had negotiations (with Kagame) long ago with mediation of Angola, and I have not seen the border being opened.”