11 December 2012

Uganda Reopens Bunagana Border

Kampala — The Ugandan government has reopened its western border post of Bunagana, a month after it had closed it on the request of the Congolese government.

Uganda's Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga told The New Times yesterday that the decision was aimed at allowing resumption of local trade between Uganda and DRC communities.

Bunagana was closed after Kinshasa complained that it was being used by the M23 rebels to make money in taxes levied on cross-border businesses.

"For example, there are school children who cross the border from the DRC side to attend classes in Uganda. The local population on either side of the border appealed to President Yoweri Museveni (of Uganda) and he in turn consulted President Joseph Kabila (of DRC)," the minister said.

However, Kiyonga said big trucks will not be allowed to use the route.

Francois Rucogoza, the head of the M23 delegation which is in the Ugandan capital of Kampala for peace talks with the Congolese government, welcomed the reopening of the border post.

He said the M23 would continue to follow up on the matter until the border resumes normal operations.

"We are happy that the residents around border can now exercise their right; they need to freely access food and other basic needs," he said.

He said the closure had hurt businesses both in Goma and Rutshuru towns.

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