"We are fully aware that our development and transformation cannot take place without peace and security in the region."
The Government has dismissed accusations that Uganda is hosting elements fighting President Paul Kagame’s government in Rwanda.
In a response issued by the foreign affairs minister Sam Kutesa, the Government said Uganda cannot allow anyone to operate from its territory to threaten a neighbour. For the past one week, the Rwanda authorities have blocked Ugandan products from entering the country. Rwandans have also been blocked from crossing into Uganda.
Kutesa’s full statement
There have been recent press reports on the relations between Uganda and Rwanda, attributed to some senior officials in the Elements hostile to Rwanda. 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 to threaten a neighbour as alleged. This is a principled position.
We are fully aware that our 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 co-ordination within regional frameworks like the East African Community (EAC), International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and even at the continental level.
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.
Rwandans are welcome to visit Uganda. It is not by mistake that it continues to be the largest refugee host country on the continent. However, Uganda expects all visitors to the country, including Rwandans, to remain law abiding because those who act contrary to the law are dealt with in accordance with the law.
Therefore, anyone, including Rwandans visiting Uganda, have nothing to fear if they are law abiding.
As a country that has been a target of terrorist attacks with the assassinations of Muslim Sheiks, State Attorney Joan Kagezi and Member of Parliament Hon Ibrahim Abiriga and others, we remain vigilant. In this regard, the Government remains committed to protecting the security of its citizens and its borders and will act accordingly against local or foreign threats.
Restricting of business
Uganda has been a vocal advocate for regional integration and building closer connectivity in trade between us and our neighbours, including Rwanda, because it is essential for our common prosperity. It is, therefore, unfortunate that the movement of goods and people across our common border with Rwanda has been restricted.
This harms our economies, social interaction and also threatens our integration efforts under the East African Community, which we have all worked hard to build. Uganda is committed to addressing any trade-related issues, because we are convinced that doing so strengthens our regional integration and also helps us integrate faster into the global economy.
Rwanda is a brotherly country and Uganda remains ready to address any issues in order to strengthen our bilateral relations and co-operation.