Uganda’s ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday afternoon officially denied allegations that the country is quietly offering sanctuary to rebels fighting the Kigali regime.
Until yesterday, Uganda government had generally left government spokesmen to talk about the unfolding situation unlike Kigali where cabinet-level communication on the latest falling-out was being handed out.
In a statement, minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Kutesa moved to change this, stating: “It is false that Uganda hosts any elements fighting Rwanda. Rwanda knows this very well as it has been a matter of confidential communication at the highest level of the two countries.”
“Uganda does not and cannot allow anyone to operate from its territory that threatens a neighbour as alleged,” the statement added.
Last month, Rwanda president Paul Kagame claimed in a rather open newspaper interview that his problem with Kampala originated from South Africa. He indicated that Uganda was being nudged by dissidents hiding in South Africa to support them. The misunderstanding between Rwanda and Uganda reached fever pitch this month after officials in Kigali closed the Gatuna border entry point.
The Kutesa statement also said: “It is not true that Uganda arrests, tortures and harasses Rwandans. It is well known that Uganda welcomes and maintains an open-door policy for people of all nationalities, including Rwandans wishing to visit the country.”
Days ago, Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs minister, Richard Sezibera, had claimed that his country’s nationals were being arrested, harassed and tortured in Uganda. However, the statement underlined the expectations that the Kampala leadership desires from foreigners living here.
“Uganda expects that all visitors to the country including Rwandans remain law-abiding because those who act contrary to the law are dealt with in accordance with the law.”
Kutesa also said Uganda is committed to addressing any trade-related issues because “we are convinced that doing so strengthens our regional integration…”
He further underlined the significance of peace in the region, noting that “we are fully aware that our own development and transformation cannot take place without peace and security in the region”.
“It is for this reason that Uganda has continued to champion closer collaboration and coordination within regional frameworks like the EAC, IGAD and even at the continental level,” reads the statement.
Despite its generally conciliatory tone, the statement also pointedly noted that the Uganda government “remains committed to protecting the security of its citizens and its border and will act accordingly against local or foreign threats.”