MPs on Tuesday demanded for a response from government and a resolution on the ongoing standoff between Uganda and Rwanda.
Rwanda last week closed its borders with Uganda at Katuna and asked travellers and motorists to go through Mirama hills instead. MPs expressed concern that it would not be fair for parliament to continue its business without paying attention to what was happening at the southwestern border.
The closure of the border has since left traders, students and travellers stranded on both sides of the two countries. Kisoro Woman MP Rose Kabagyenyi said some of her people in district that borders Rwanda are living in fear since the closure of the border.
“At first we thought it was a one day, two days things but it is now a week and we realize it is becoming permanent. It is unfortunate many people have lost their merchandise, jobs among other things because a lot has been going on between the two countries,” Kabagyenyi said.
“The locals are living in fear. Both Rwanda and Uganda governments are not giving adequate answers [to the standoff]. People have started vacating their homes, they don’t sleep in their homes at night and they are rumoring that there is war going to happen. So people know any time, war is going to break,” she added.
Kampala Central MP Muhammad Nsereko said over 175 trucks were stuck at the border and Ugandans were losing huge sums of money but MPs were deliberately being kept unaware about the diplomatic standoff.
“It is appalling today that all of us are kept in the dark as to what is happening between Uganda and Rwanda; Uganda and Rwanda are losing about $30 million in revenue due to the closure of the borders,” Nsereko said.
National Female Youth MP Anna Adeke argued, it was a cat and mouse game that government is playing legislators.
“Where are we standing with Rwanda? We need a timeline on when government will furnish us with details,” Adeke said.
Last month, Uganda prime minister Ruhakana Rugunda told parliament that a statement on steps taken to restore weakening diplomatic ties between the two countries would be issued, following criticism of Uganda by Rwanda’s state minister of Foreign Affairs in charge of the East African Community, Olivier Nduhungirehe.
First deputy prime minister Gen Moses Ali however maintained government would issue a statement when we ready. “Government is going to brief the House and we can only do that when we are ready,” Ali said.
But, speaker Rebecca Kadaga has given government up to this Thursday to make clarification on the cause of the ongoing impasse between Uganda and Rwanda that led to the latter to close its border. Kadaga argued that government had taken the issue lightly. The issue first came up in the House last week.
“I want government to take this issue seriously; Ugandans want to know if they can continue taking goods to the border, and buses can take passengers,” Kadaga said.
Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs minister Dr Richard Sezibera addressed the media in Kigali, saying Rwanda was concerned about some people in Uganda who allegedly support the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) led by renegade Rwandan General, Kayumba Nyamwasa based in South Africa.
“We don’t see why the RNC should be part of any equation between Rwanda and Uganda but for some reason, they still operate in Uganda. We have had cases of an NRC operative working with people in Uganda who passes on information to another NRC official in South Africa and then the official in South Africa calls Uganda to say ‘arrest so and so…they are dangerous to you.’ And that information is deemed to come from South Africa where as in actual fact, it originated from Uganda,” Sezibera said.
A statement issued by Uganda’s Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa on Tuesday however indicated that Uganda cannot allow anyone to operate within its territory with the aim of destabilizing its neighbours.
According to Kutesa, that would be a threat of the development aspirations of Uganda and in total contradictions of the efforts Uganda has championed to address peace and security matters in the region.
“It is false that Uganda hosts any elements fighting Rwanda. Rwanda knows this very well as it has been a matter of confidential information at the highest level,” Kutesa said in a statement shared by senior presidential press secretary, Don Wanyama.