14 March 2019

Rwanda, Uganda Trade Barbs As Dispute Grows

Uganda has failed to "address fundamental issues" raised by Kigali, begins a statement by the Rwandan Foreign Affairs ministry in the latest series of rebuttals between the two countries.

On Wednesday, Kampala had accused Rwanda of introducing an export permit system for those who intend to export goods to Uganda, "to which there has been no successful applicant."

Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa said that Kigali had imposed a trade embargo and was blocking goods and Rwanda-registered trucks from crossing into Uganda.

"Claims that Rwanda has instituted trade embargo on Uganda are as untrue as they are diversionary," responded Rwanda's Foreign Affairs Ministry on Thursday.

Simmering conflict between the two countries escalated on February 28 when Rwanda closed the Gatuna border post -- the busiest crossing between Rwanda and Uganda -- to allow completion of the one-stop border post and restricted its citizens from crossing to Uganda.

Kigali accuses Uganda of hosting rebels opposed to its government and subjecting Rwandan citizens to illegal arrests and torture. Kampala, on the other hand, accuses of Rwanda of acts of espionage and unfair trade practices.

Both countries also accuse each other of breaching the provisions of the East African Community Treaty, particularly on free movement and the Common Market Protocol.

"It is not possible to have free trade including free movement of goods if traders are killed, tortured, extorted and their property is illegally seized. These are the fundamental issues that need to be addressed," Kigali said on Thursday.

Rwanda insists that its borders are open and that it has only advised its citizens against travelling to Uganda. However, no Rwandan has been allowed to cross to Uganda.

The East African Law Society has offered to mediate, while on Tuesday Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta made brief visits to the two countries where he held private talks with Presidents Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni.

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