13 March 2019

East Africa: Regional Law Body Steps in to Reconcile Rwanda and Uganda

Arusha — The East African Law Society (EALS) has stepped in to reconcile feuding Rwanda and Uganda.

The EALS's intervention comes at a time of fears across the region that diplomatic clashes between Kigali and Kampala would escalate in the wake of the "war of words" arising from claims that Uganda has supported rebels opposed to the government in Kigali. However, Kampala has refused the claims.

The premier bar association in the region says it has mobilised experienced diplomats, senior lawyers, influential civil society officials and representatives of the business community to step up efforts to mend ties.

"We are separately reaching out to the Heads of States of Rwanda and Uganda with the offer for a mediation," said Willy Rubeya, the president of the legal body in a statement yesterday.

He added that in a short while EALS shall avail the team and keep the public informed of the status of the dispute resolution.

The Arusha-based regional bar with over 17,000 lawyers has an observer status to the East African Community (EAC).

One of its mandates is to promote regional integration through cross-border trade and building capacity of legal, professional and public institutions.

It also appealed to the leaders of the two countries to re-open and operationalise their common border even as a lasting solution to the crisis is sought.

Mr Rubeya expressed profound concern over the deteriorating relations between the two neighbours "due to the facts that are now in public domain."

Of much concern is the effect of the situation on the economy and provision of basic needs to the affected population.

The EALS boss said escalation of the situation at the common border of the two sovereign states has brought with it "the undesired effect of constraining free movement of citizens and goods."

He said the society and its members, spread across the six EAC partner states, believed the solution to the crisis lay in a negotiated settlement.

What is the East Africa Law Society?

It's the regional bar representing lawyers from across the EAC partner states. With a membership of

over 17,000 lawyers drawn from the Law Society of Kenya, Burundi Bar Association, Tanganyika Law Society, Rwanda Bar Association, Uganda Law Society, Zanzibar Law Society and the South Sudan Bar Association, the East African Law Society is the leading non-governmental organization among the apex bodies of the EAC.

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