BY James Tasamba
KIGALI, Rwanda (AA) - Rwanda will only normalize relations and reopen its borders with Uganda if the latter stops and prevents action on its territory by forces hostile to Rwanda’s government.
This according to a communique issued at the end of a summit between Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni, aimed to ease tensions, held at the countries’ common border at Gatuna.
Relations between the two neighboring countries soured early last year following accusations and counter-accusations of espionage and political meddling.
At the height of the tensions, Rwanda last year abruptly blocked cargo trucks from Uganda from entering its territory from the main crossing point at their common border at Gatuna, saying it was due to construction work at the border.
Rwanda also stopped its citizens from crossing over to Uganda over allegations of arbitrary detentions of Rwandans and torture in Uganda, accusations Kampala denies.
The summit facilitated by Presidents Joao Lourenco of Angola and Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo is the latest in a series of meetings aimed to end the ongoing standoff between the two countries.
“The summit recommended that Uganda should within one month verify the allegations made by Rwanda about action on its territory by forces hostile to Rwandan government. If the allegations are proved the Ugandan government will take all measures to stop it and prevent it from happening again,” the communiqué said.
“Once the above recommendation is fulfilled and reported to heads of state, the facilitators will convene within 15 days a summit in Gatuna/Katuna for the solemn reopening of borders and subsequent normalization of the relations between the two countries.”
-Releases from both sides
During Friday’s summit Rwanda and Uganda also signed an extradition treaty to facilitate justice in case of subversive activities practiced by nationals in each country.
Kagame and Museveni last August signed a Memorandum of Understanding in the Angolan capital Luanda to end hostilities, witnessed by Presidents Lourenco and Tshisekedi.
The signing followed a July quadripartite summit between the heads of state and government of Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda.
According to Friday’s communique, both Kagame and Museveni noted that since their last meeting progress was seen in the two parties’ commitment to do everything they can to eliminate tensions.
Tension factors include the release of each other’s nationals and ceasing support for elements seeking to destabilize the other country.
On Tuesday Kampala released 15 Rwandan nationals who were incarcerated in Uganda – including two terrorist suspects – who were allegedly involved in a deadly attack in Musanze, northern Rwanda that killed 14 people.
In January Uganda released nine Rwandan nationals who were freed by a military court-martial after the prosecution lost interest in several charges they faced including illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.