Uganda questions Rwanda’s explanation for border closure

Uganda questions Rwanda's explanation for border closure

UGANDA

Uganda on Thursday called upon authorities in Rwanda not to prevent people from crossing the border at the Southern point of Katuna (Gatuna).

The Ugandan government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo told journalists that since Wednesday 6:00pm (local time), Rwandan authorities had denied entry to both private and public vehicles attempting to cross the border from Uganda.

Opondo also questioned the explanation by Rwanda’s Revenue Authority (RRA) that cargo trucks from Uganda were prevented from crossing the border at Katuna because of a planned upgrade of the border post.

‘If it was construction of the road they wouldn’t have prevented their people from coming into the country,’‘ Opondo argued.

Opondo corroborated reports from the border saying as of Thursday morning, Rwandan nationals were no longer being allowed to cross into Uganda.

Opondo however called for calm, saying the Rwandan authorities were being engaged for an amicable solution.

Rwanda’s explanation

In a letter addressed to Uganda’s revenue authorities at the border on Wednesday, RRA explained that heavy trucks would be diverted to other crossings.

We are considering reducing the traffic of heavy trucks to allow completion of the OSBP infrastructure,” read the letter signed by Rosine Uwamariya, the Commissioner for Customs at RRA.

“In view of the above, Rwanda Revenue Authority would like to inform you that with effect from 28th February 2019, all heavy trucks carrying goods destined and those transiting via Gatuna shall be temporarily diverted from using Gatuna Border Post to Kagitumba/Mirama Hills border posts,” she added.

Breakdown in relations

Relations between Rwanda and Ugandan have recently become soiled by counter accusations of espionage and engaging in activities to destabilise each other.

Ugandan recently deported several top telecommunications officials including a Rwandan national, accusing them of compromising its national security.

Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni has repeatedly alluded to foreign agents attempting to destablise the country. Last year, Museveni hosted his counterpart, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and reduced the deteriorating relations to ‘ a lapse in communication’.

“A number of incidents that are being commented about in the media, many would be properly addressed if only there was better communication. We have phones, we should talk more,” Museveni said

In an exclusive interview with The EastAfrican newspaper earlier this month, Kagame accused Uganda of listening to dissidents who plan to destabilise Rwanda.

‘‘That must be resolved. Because the alternative is not something that we should even be thinking about, or entertaining,” Kagame said, adding that he is confident ‘the matter can be resolved’.

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