Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has called for an urgent resolution of differences between countries in the region, which he says are standing in the way of the East African Community’s progress.
In an exclusive interview with The EastAfrican, President Kagame said relations between Uganda and Rwanda are not improving because of reluctance to solve the differences.
The interview discussed his tenure as chair of the African Union, his plans for the East African Community, and his leadership of Rwanda.
On the growing rift between Rwanda and Uganda, President Kagame said: “We have had discussions over this for two years, we can resolve them whether it is egos or someone just wishing that things should be bad.”
Tensions between Rwanda and Uganda have heightened in the past few years, with accusations of espionage leading to the expulsion of a number of Rwandans from Uganda.
“It is very intriguing to find that, even with the history (between the two countries) and a good foundation, we have something like this going on. And it goes on every day, even as we speak. It is hard to just put it in one word, or even a few words. All I can say is that it’s a matter that can be resolved. That must be resolved. Because the alternative is not something that we should even be thinking about, or entertaining,” said President Kagame, who is the chairman of the East African Community.
The Rwandan leader pointed at a link between a group of Rwandan dissidents in South Africa and his troubles with Uganda.
According to President Kagame, Uganda has chosen to listen to the dissidents, and act against Rwanda based on the information from the group.
The dissidents, he said, are soliciting Uganda’s support in their plans to destabilise Rwanda. Although he did not name the group, a senior official told The EastAfrican that the dissidents are led by Lt-Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa, a former chief of staff of the Rwandan Army.
According to the president, Rwanda has raised its concerns about the group’s activities with Uganda, but its protests have fallen on deaf ears.
Expressing disappointment at the failure to mend things between Rwanda and Uganda, President Kagame dismissed as “optics” some of the pronouncements by leaders on the matter: “To the microphones, we are saying the best things and the right things. But we should make an effort to do those things.”
Rwandan President Paul Kagame speaks to NMG Editor Pamella Sittoni on his tenure as chair of the AU, his plans for the EAC, and his leadership of Rwanda in Kigali on February 7, 2019. PHOTO | RWANDA PRESIDENCY