There is no doubt that Angolan President Joao Lourenco has worked so tirelessly to end the disquiet between Uganda and Rwanda.
Lourenco’s efforts started in 2019 and by August that same year, he had garnered the first memorandum of understanding (MoU), which was signed between Presidents Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni in Luanda.
The two presidents pledged to improve their soured relationship. This brought some small level of relief to citizens of the two countries who expected to resume their normal lives without any restraints. They were wrong.
Instead, counter-accusations of spying, meddling into each other’s internal affairs and political assassination continued to spill into public view. The tensions had also reinforced Rwanda’s position to tighten security and maintain closure of Gatuna border.
Further, Rwanda also accuses Uganda of hosting and supporting terror groups aimed at destabilizing the government in Kigali. The Ugandan Foreign minister, Sam Kutesa denies that Uganda has any interest in destabilizing Rwanda’s security. There are no prizes for guessing who the immediate victims of this standoff are!
These are the small-scale traders, who eke out a living by crossing the border daily between Rwanda and Uganda. There are also ordinary people who through intermarriages or historical circumstances have found themselves belonging to the two countries.
They have been restrained. However, the East African Community (EAC) should be embarrassed that it has failed to rein in the quarrelsome members, who continue to offend the treaty.
The indifference and absence of EAC and its organs such as the summit, the council and East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) in this particular conflict exposes the futility of the institution.
The peace negotiations and reconciliation talks are steered by a SADC member state. East Africa is not short of peace negotiators and elders such as Tanzania’s retired presidents Benjamin Mkapa and Jakaya Kikwete.
What happened to Uhuru Kenyatta’s charm? What is the relevance of EAC if it can fold its arms while some members are bickering and breaching the treaty?
Little wonder then that the Lourenco-led peace talks are tending to turn into a rat chasing its tail. Does this mean that EAC has failed to grow to the level of being trusted by its members to iron out its conflicts?
The unending cat-and-mouse game has exacted a terrible cost on everyone; and EAC is not concerned! Lives are lost, incomes are shattered, families are cast asunder, people have lost their liberty to move between the two countries.
Still EAC seems unbothered! EAC has lost an opportunity to prove itself as a relevant power and economic bloc! Everyone is tired of this unnecessary bickering. The suspicions, unfounded allegations of spying, sabotage and the killing and the maiming must stop.
Neither Rwandans nor Ugandans deserves a life shrouded in uncertainty. What is so difficult to resolve? How can the comradeship between the two degenerate to an irreconcilable level?