By Spy Uganda
Katuna: The High Commission of Uganda in Kigali, Rwanda yesterday evening successfully repatriated 100 Ugandan nationals out of more than 350 who had been stranded due to the COVID-19 pandemic guidelines that had since led to closure of borders.
The group which was flagged off by the Charge d’Affairs of the Ugandans Embassy in Rwanda’s capital Kigali, Anne Katusiime travelled in four coaches belonging to Volcano Bus company that dropped them at Gatuna border.
After arriving at Katuna border at around 12:30 pm, they were first held by Rwandan security and immigrations officials in a bid to to know whether there are secret deals behind their repatriation amidst tough rows between the two countries.
This scuffle between the security officials and Ugandan Embassy officials took some lengthy of time of about five hours until after security received orders from their superiors at around 5:40 pm and cleared hungry and tired Ugandans to cross over into Uganda.
This is the first repatriation exercise to be undertaken by the High Commission in the expected series of repatriations of 100 people every after 3 days.
Wallace Bindeeba, the Katuna cluster immigration officer who led a delegation of Ugandan officials that witnessed the repatriation exercise, said the returnees will first be inspected by health officials from the Kabale district Covid-19 task force before being transported to Entebbe for the mandatory quarantine.
“We have received the first batch of 100 Ugandans from Rwanda. Upon arrival in Uganda, they shall pass through immigration and thereafter the health team shall also pass them through another process. Then they will proceed with buses to Entebbe for institutional quarantine,” said Bindeeba.
But What Is The Root Cause Of Scuffle At the Border?
When a young Yoweri Museveni launched his rebellion to seize Uganda’s presidency in 1981, he found a vital ally in an exiled Rwandan soldier named Paul Kagame. The former guerilla leaders have been presidents of their respective countries for 33 and 19 years now, but their relationship has soured since those early days during Uganda’s Bush War.
Tensions escalated sharply earlier last year, as both men hurled accusations of sabotage, and Rwanda sealed its border with Uganda, halting trade and issuing a travel advisory. In August 2019, Kagame and Museveni met in Luanda, Angola to sign a memorandum of understanding meant to end their standoff and repair relations.
The brinkmanship between Rwanda and Uganda has already taken an economic toll. The Ugandan Ministry of Trade recorded millions of dollars in losses, resulting from the border closure, and accused the Rwandan government of effectively imposing a trade embargo.
The current showdown may be the worst in years. In addition to the border closure, Museveni and Kagame have taken to jousting in highly public arenas. It all began in February 2019, when Ugandan authorities claimed that “external forces” were plotting to overthrow Museveni, and seemed to point a finger at Rwanda. Rwandan diplomats in turn asserted that Uganda had detained, tortured and illegally deported Rwandan citizens and sheltered dissidents.
In March 2020, Kagame used an annual leadership retreat in Rwanda to lob his own incendiary allegations against Museveni, claiming that he has been trying to topple him for the past two decades and declared, “No one can bring me to my knees.”
Not to be outdone, Museveni responded. “Those who want to destabilize our country do not know our capacity,” he said, while commissioning factories outside of Kampala. “Once we mobilize, you can’t survive.” Months later, in July 2019, police in Uganda arrested 40 Rwandans living in the country. The intelligence services cited unspecified security concerns.