Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, President Kagame meet to discuss mending Rwanda-Uganda diplomatic relations
President Paul Kagame and the Commander of Land Forces of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), Lieutenant General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, on Saturday held a meeting at Urugwiro Village during which the two discussed steps needed to restore bilateral ties between Rwanda and Uganda.
Following a series of attempts by both countries to mend their diplomatic relations which have been fractured for more than 3 years now, Uganda’s first son whose visit followed that of Ambassador Adonia Ayebare who was in Kigali a week earlier to transmit a special message from President Museveni of Uganda, touched down in Rwanda in his capacity as Senior Advisor in charge of Special Operations to the Ugandan President.
Kainerugaba was recieved at Kigali International Airport by Brig Gen Willy Rwagasana, the Commandant of Republican Guard and Col. Ronald Rwivanga, the Defence and Military Spokesperson, among others.
Talks between Rwanda and Uganda’s presidents were hosted by Angolan President Joao Lourenco and Congolese leader Felix Tshisekedi, the last such meeting taking place in February 2020 and no meeting had been held since, partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The consecutive bilateral visits are seen as the latest effort towards normalizing relations which have been strained for at least four years, according to regional security experts.
A tweet from Rwanda’s presidency said the pair had had “cordial, productive and forward looking discussions about Rwanda’s concerns and practical steps needed to restore the relationship between Rwanda and Uganda”.
Kainerugaba tweeted: “We held very cordial and in-depth discussions about how to improve our bilateral relations.”
“I’m confident that under the leadership of our two Presidents we shall be able to quickly restore our historical good relations,” he added.
The Ugandan government also tweeted pictures of the meeting, which they said was “for a prosperous, competitive, secure, stable and politically united East Africa”.
Rwanda has for long protested Uganda’s support towards the elements plotting to destabilise the former, among other complaints that include the continued harassment of Rwandans in Uganda by security operatives where thousands have been illegally detained and dumped at the border without due process.
The impact of the dispute has not only affected relations of the citizens on both sides but undermined cross bilateral trade which had hit the record level of close to $200m.
Last week, Kainerugaba had posted a tweet which was welcomed by many in which he warned those fighting President Kagame.
“This is my uncle, Afande Paul Kagame. Those who fight him are fighting my family. They should all be careful.”
It should be noted that Kainerugaba’s father Museveni and Kagame were close allies over the 1980s and 90s during struggles for power in their respective country, before the rivals.
Details of the meeting between the two were not immediately made public but the Office of the President described the talks as cordial and productive.
“I know of no one in Uganda who could be the best envoy to Paul Kagame and meaningfully discuss the issues between Kigali and Kampala other than Kainerugaba. He believes this relationship is of great strategic value for both countries and for Africa…” said Andrew Mwenda, a Ugandan journalist, founder and owner of The Independent magazine, in a tweet addressing the first son’s visit to the Rwandan Presidency.