By Drake Nyamugabwa
As the tension between Uganda and Rwanda take a more political twist resulting from the closer of the two countries’ boarder, the Inter-religious Council (IRCU) has called for the option of dialogue between the two countries that have previously been in good business and bi-lateral ties.
The tension which has now lasted for more than a week after transport and trade were disrupted at a the official border crossing on the Rwanda side of the border have prompted the inter-religious councils and other regional and African religious organization to urge the leaders of the two countries to sit on a round table and resolve the border issues which they say has disrupted business.
The Chairperson, Council of Presidents- IRCU, The Grand Mufti of Uganda H.E Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubajje during a press conference at the IRCU headquarters in mengo says that on of IRCU, East African Inte-religious council (EAIRC), Africa Council of Religious Leaders are concerned about the two country boarder tension and urged the leaders of the two countries to find a lasting solution the issue.
“As ardent advocates of dialogue, we strongly urge the heads of state of the two sister countries to sit on a round table and find a lasting solution to the underlying misunderstanding between the two countries. We are certain that the number of channels still exist to resolve this conflict. These include among others others: The preventive diplomacy spearheaded by leaders, the East African Conflict Management Act 2012, The International Conference on the great lakes region and the peace ans security council of the African union” he said.
However Mubajje said the they are glad that Rwandan Authorities have allowed some Ugandan trucks to make a detour and enter Rwanda through Mirama hills.
“we are happy to note that the Rwandan authourities have allowed truck to make a detour and enter through Mirama hills. This partially releaves accumulative effect of the boarder closer” he said
Uganda’s prime minister Ruhakana Rugunda on Sunday appealed for calm, saying the country’s foreign affairs ministry was working to resolve the issue.
“Uganda and Rwanda are brotherly countries, therefore, people should not get worried because the issues shall be handled and concluded. The Uganda Foreign Affairs Ministry is working on the matter,” Rugunda told residents in the South Western town of Kabale.
These same sentiments were echoed by Uganda’s state minister for foreign affairs, Okello Oryem, who called for ‘calm and patience from both sides’.
“Uganda and Rwanda are two blood brothers in this regard you can’t rule out simple misunderstanding as family do. I beg for calm and patience from both sides’‘ Okello said.
Uganda’s foreign ministry has issued the first statement about the country’s relations with Rwanda, since the ongoing standoff that escalated last week on Wednesday when the main Katuna (Gatuna) border was partially closed.
The statement released on Tuesday 5 March addressed three main themes, including Rwanda’s accusations that Uganda was harbouring dissidents against the Kigali regime, in addition to harassing its citizens.
‘‘It is false that Uganda hosts any elements fighting Rwanda. Uganda does not and cannot allow anyone to operate from its territory that threatens a neighbour as alleged.’‘
‘‘It is not true that Uganda arrests, tortures and harasses Rwandans. Rwandans are welcome to visit Uganda. However Uganda expects that all visitors to the country including Rwandans remain law abiding because those who act contrary to the law, are dealt with in accordance with the law.’‘
‘‘It is unfortunate that the movement of goods and people across our common border with Rwanda, has been restricted. Uganda is committed to addressing any trade related issues, because we are convinced that doing so strengthens our regional integration.’‘
Earlier on Tuesday, Rwandan Foreign Minister Richard Sezibera accused Uganda of offering succor to two foreign-based Rwanda rebel groups – Rwanda National Congress (RNC) and Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
“RNC and FDLR work from Uganda with support of some authorities there. This is another serious case and we have raised it with them,” he told a news conference in Kigali.
The RNC is a rebel group led by some of Rwanda’s most prominent dissidents including South Africa-based Kayumba Nyamwasa. Its founders say it is a political party.
The FDLR is a rebel group composed in part of former Rwandan soldiers and Hutu militias who fled into Democratic Republic of Congo after massacring around 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. The group has since sought to topple Kagame’s government
Inter-religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) works to achieve peace and harmony within Uganda. Its mission is to promote dialogue and harmonious co-existence amongst all faith groups and encourage the non-violent resolution of conflicts. IRCU strives to promote peaceful co-existence, moral and spiritual integrity, social-economic welfare and collaborative action through sharing knowledge and resources for the common good.