Don’t dare go to Uganda, Kagame tells Rwandans
President Paul Kagame has once again urged Rwandans not to travel to Uganda, as relations between the two countries remain cold.
In a televised interview on Sunday on State agency, Rwanda Broadcasting Agency, President Kagame said Rwandans fear travelling to Uganda due to the alleged illegal arrests and torture they face.
“There is only one way to avoid this problem; by not going there (to Uganda). Do not go there because if you cross the border and they arrest and beat you or rob you, and you come back, what do you want me to do…,” President Kagame said.
“That is another country and it has another way it is governed and I have no authority in that country. The only advice I can give to you is that do not go to Uganda,” he repeated the advice.
Rwanda issued a travel advisory against Uganda in March 2019 and closed its most lucrative border with Uganda – Gatuna/Katuna.
This came after Rwanda accused Uganda of supporting and facilitating rebels, as well as of illegally arresting and torturing its citizens.
On the other hand, Uganda has accused Rwanda of conducting espionage on its soil.
Several bilateral meetings that involved leaders from regional countries – Angola and DRC – have not yielded much results in solving the impasse between the two East African neighbours.
In August 2019, President Kagame and President Museveni met at their common border in Gatuna and signed what seemed to be a progressive pact that would lead to the normalisation of relations.
In the pact, both leaders agreed to respect each other’s sovereignty and to refrain from acts that may destabilise the other.
An adhoc committee led by their ministers of foreign affairs had made some ground on following up on the implementation of this pact after consecutive meetings in Kigali and Kampala.
Progress, however, stalled, partly due to the coronavirus pandemic that halted movement and due to disagreements over how the pact was being implemented.
Now, no Rwandan is allowed to cross the land border into Uganda except if they travel by air.
Due to the Covid-19 crisis in Uganda, Rwandair also halted travel to Entebbe in June, making it even more difficult for Rwandans to travel to Uganda.
“No Ugandan gets problems in Rwanda, but literally all Rwandans who go there… are worried. Some have even regretted going there and some are now crippled because of the way they are arrested and tortured…” President Kagame said.
“What it now appears to be is that these actions are now part of their politics, now they do not even hide this fact,” he added.
Authorities in Uganda had complained that Rwanda was sabotaging the movement of its goods through to Burundi and Tanzania.
Earlier in May, it was revealed that Uganda and Burundi were finalising plans to build a new road to promote their bilateral trade due to Rwanda’s closure of its borders with Uganda.
The new infrastructure is expected to pass through northern Tanzania and link to Burundi’s Kobero Border Crossing Point.
“Now you hear that there are roads being constructed from Uganda going through Tanzania to Burundi with the intention of bypassing Rwanda and cause it problems…” Mr Kagame said.
“This problem will not end from us. The solution will have to come from those doing these acts. The only advice I can give to you is; was it necessary for you to go there? Why don’t you avoid going there?”
He added: “We have talked to the leadership of Uganda and they denied or said that they don’t know. They say they are following up, but now it is many years. What we decided to do is to do no harm to Ugandans or any other foreigners due to the actions of their government against our people.”