11 March 2019

Rwanda: Border Districts Call for Uganda-Rwanda Talks

Photo: Yoweri Museveni/Twitter
Uganda President Yoweri Museveni.

Kabale — Local leaders in districts neighbouring Rwanda have called for dialogue between President Museveni and his counterpart to avert any loss of lives and property.

"We don't want war. Uganda and Rwanda opting for [war] is the deadliest option that will destroy our economy. The only best option is dialogue," Mr Abel Bizimana, the Kisoro District chairperson, said at the weekend.

Mr Bizimana also appealed to the inter-governmental organisations such the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad) and East African Community (EAC), among others, to intervene.

"The inter-governmental agencies should break the silence and engage our leaders in dialogue. They kept quiet in 1990/ 1994 Rwandan civil war and they only intervened after hundreds of people were killed in a genocide. Remember when two elephants fight, the grass suffers," he said.

His remarks come after Rwandan authorities closed their borders with Uganda at Gatuna and Cyanika in Kabale and Kisoro districts, respectively denying all cargo trucks entry and restricted their nationals from crossing into Uganda.

Rwanda advised that all cargo trucks should access their country through Mirama hills border in Ntungamo District, a directive that has left many businessmen counting losses while others incurred extra costs.

Mr Patrick Besigye Keihwa, the Kabale District chairperson, said once the two leaders commit to dialogue, they will consolidate all the developments they have achieved.

He called for mutual understanding and co-existence to permanently resolve conflicts because Rwandans and Ugandans need each other for both social and economic benefits.

Mr Erasmus Sanyu, the chairperson of Chahi Sub-county in Kisoro, said: "I witnessed the Rwandan civil war of the early 1990s and bad memories still linger in mind, I do not want to see such a thing happening when I am still living on earth."

"In my sub-county, people have relatives on either sides of the two countries because of intermarriages. The current standoff has led to the Rwandan authorities to deny their nationals from crossing to Uganda to visit their relatives or attend social functions such parties and burials. Our people have been crossing to Rwanda for business in their local daily and weekly markets and the same to the Rwandans," he added.

The Butanda Sub-county chairperson in Kabale, Mr John Kabengye, said ever since the stand-off, the social and economic trend was interfered with and locals on either sides are stuck.

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