Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Sam Kutesa on the Rwanda/Uganda Situation (05.03.2019)

Uganda-Rwanda Tensions Part II: More retaliating measures!

As we have seen over the weekend at the border points between Rwanda and Uganda. There been stoppage of trucks at Katuna Border Post. A place where the trucks been stuck and not able to cross. There are even some whose been able, but they have been fined with higher rates to cross with certain goods like maize and other exports from Uganda to Rwanda.

With this in mind, there been also higher fines on the buses with Rwandan nationals crossing into Uganda. There also been reports of more deployment of soldiers close to the border. As well as three Rwandan Generals arrested, this being Joseph Nzabamwita, Fred Ibingira and Emmanuel Ruvusha. Whose all been arrested as this tension between the Republic are spiralling.

We certainly knows that the Rwandan government is retaliating. They are making it harder for the Ugandans to cross into Rwanda. Also, as the Rwandan government warned their citizens about doing this. Therefore, the buses and trucks are paying more for crossing the borders. That means, in the end the businesses on both sides will be affected and most likely the produce and imports will be more costly for the consumers in the respective country. That is what Rwandan citizens will be doing in the end, because the Ugandan traders have to get their ends.

That is the minor scratches of this, which now is very spiteful. This is happening as there is speculations of spies, sudden arrests and even missing Rwandan nationals in Uganda. As well, as the big-man play of Yoweri Museveni who is possibly supporting rebel outfits in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the RNC and FDLR, whose sole mission is to destroy Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). Paul Kagame surely won’t take that kindly and might be the reason for three General arrested recently.

Therefore, the border dispute is getting ugly. As the possible acts of the Presidents are going hard. They are ordering their security organizations and spies all over. The CMI and ISO are surely working overtime, as there reports of new editorial line at Radio Simba FM, where they are coming with spiteful chants about Rwandans. This is surely in retaliation against what is happening.

Now, there is a jam, a long line of trucks, where about 130 are waiting in line waiting to able to cross into Rwanda from Uganda. This is sure sign of how the Rwandan are looking at Uganda. Also, the way the Ugandan are able to deal with Rwanda. As this has been going on for over 4 days, and the measures on the other side is getting more restricted and costly.

There are surely some paranoia both ways, as there are possible ways to diplomatically end this dispute. Where the ones losing is the citizens and businesses. The ones not losing is the ones in power and the elites. It is the bus-passengers and the exporters whose paying the initial price. The public are pawns in the giant chess-set of their masters. The Presidents are playing their game and the pawns are the ones taken out, one by one.

Right now, the Rwandan are exercising their sovereign state activity, they are allowed to close their borders and put tariffs on imports. However, its done as a retaliating measure and not through any notification. Neither, has there seemingly been a regard for the each others nationals behind bars. Which has been used as well as reasons for this. There been no talk about the possible rebel outfits or the sponsoring of such, as that that would be on shady back-stabbing ground.

We will not know how this is going, but surely the template is that it will go on. Until one of the President humiliate himself and actually asks to talk to the other. So, that the functions of the borders goes back to normal and that they can settle the differences that is there. They are both known for playing shadow murky games. This could be more of that, we don’t know at this point. Because, they are not transparent and open about this. Since, then we would see the dark-side of their reign. Peace.

Uganda Revenue Authority letter to Rwanda Revenue Authority: “Subject: Resolution of Congestion at Katuna Border Post” (02.03.2019)

Uganda-Rwanda Tensions: It Escalated this Weekend

This weekend sparked with closure or blocked border points on the Rwandan side, ensuring that the trucks with goods from Uganda was blocked from entering Rwandan territory. This has been happening since 1st March 2019. They have deliberately made it harder for business and export to happen from one to the other. Because of this.

The Rwanda Revenue Authority has claimed it is for building a One Stop Border Point and wanting the Ugandan Nationals and Businessmen to move their vehicles to other borders points, instead of Gatuna Border Points. This is happening, while state officials on both is escalating the crisis between them.

The Rwandan Minister for Foreign Affairs and Government Spokesman Dr. Richard Sezibera been saying: “We have advised Rwandans not to go to Uganda because we cannot guarantee their security in Uganda” (James Munyaneza & Collins Mwai – ‘Rwanda warns citizens against travel to Uganda’ 02.03.2019, The New Times – Rwanda).

While Executive Director of Uganda Media Centre Ofwono Opondo stated this yesterday: “All vehicles coming from Rwanda enter well into Uganda but it’s the opposite on the Rwandan side. Rwandese aren’t being allowed to travel and enter Uganda but Ugandan nationals are. What is being stopped are only vehicles because of the blockage” (Uganda Media Centre, 01.03.2019).

Therefore, the Ugandan is indirectly saying that Rwandan are being blocked. While the Rwandan is already warning about them travelling and entering into Uganda. To top it off. Because right now, Rwanda is blocking and denying trucks and goods from Uganda. While Uganda is blocking Rwandan nationals, therefore, the the border squat has escalated with this.

It cannot just be fixing the infrastructure at the Gatuna Border Point. Now, it is something more underneath. As there are alleged arrests, detaining and torture of Rwandan nationals in Uganda. While Rwandan rebels in Democratic Republic of Congo are supported by Museveni, who fights against the Kigali regime of Kagame. That is why there are a lot of speculations and also stirring waters. It is rising into a storm in a water glass.

What we have is to Presidents who are involved in shady business and exports from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Of vast minerals and usage of rebel outfits to be able to do so. As they are earning fortunes on the misfortunes of the Congolese people there. They are sponsoring, training and also weaponizing the conflict there. This is done from Kigali and Kampala and been going on for over two decades. The gentlemen in power knows this, and they are trying to have spies on each to configure who can come on top. However, its now and then it backfires. The intimidation and the plans get disconnected, as the DRC and the other party are able to capture the rebels. Just like what happen with the RNC and FDLR agents visiting Uganda before Christmas 2018 and extradited to Kigali recently.

Therefore, this isn’t about the border point or the Rwandan nationals crossing into Uganda. This isn’t about a blockage of goods and trucks from Uganda. No, this is about political games and also power. This is about two men, two Presidents who wants it all and grab it. Want to outsmart and also lurk in the shadows without getting caught. It is two President that are trying to salvage something, but only loosing out. As both parties are losing valuable time and assets, while playing hide- and seek like this.

President Museveni and President Kagame needs to talk and settle their grievances, before it gets out of hand. These are weapon-brothers who has built their careers together and also went into ventures together elsewhere. Therefore, these two should be able to talk. Instead of letting their citizens and their population suffer, because they have fallen out. That is how it is seems and that is not showing leadership, but greed and lack of diplomatic efforts to settle; whatever these two needs to settle. Peace.

The SGR Trick: Which was all based on, if Beijing blessed Kampala!

The Standard Gauge Railway in the East African Community was all based on if the Chinese counterparts wanted to fund the infrastructure and the grand enterprise of rails in the region. Today, it was revealed, not shockingly that the SGR works in Uganda has been suspended. This after reports in the Daily Monitor revealed this:

Uganda’s first phase of SGR, the eastern line running from Malaba to Kampala, about 273km (338km rail length), is expected to cost $2.3bn. Mr Kasaija admitted that Uganda has currently taken a back seat on the SGR venture, but will resume “serious discussions once Kenya is about to reach” the Ugandan side. President Museveni, according to sources familiar with the venture, in recent months had been directly involved in discussions on the project, and had hoped to secure financing for the first section of the railway line during his visit to China last month when he attended the seventh Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit. But he returned empty-handed. However, Mr Kasaija revealed that during the discussions in Beijing, it was agreed that “Uganda and Kenya will embark on joint financing negotiations” after Kenya has completed the current Nairobi-Naivasha section” (Daily Monitor – ‘Uganda puts SGR on hold over unresolved issues with Kenya’ 30.10.2018, link: https://www.businessdailyafrica.com/news/ea/uganda/Uganda-puts-SGR-over-unresolved-issues-kenya/4003148-4828902-156c5upz/index.html).

I have doubts that it will help reaching more agreements with the Kenyan counterparts at this time. As they have had plenty of agreements, joint communiques and meetings with the Northern Corridor Integrated Project (NCIP), which is going back to 2015. Where there was back in October 2015 on the 11th NCIP Communique, where the document stated: “the summit noted progress made in the finalisation of bankable proposals for some sections and directed the Ministers of Finance, Infrastructure, Attorney Generals, coordinated by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, to undertake a joint visit to EXIM Bank in China to conclude Financing Agreements” (11th NCIP Summit – Joint Communique’ Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya 17.10.2015).

If you follow it clearly, the progress of the 2015 have been stalled or rejected, but the parties still want to pursuit the goal of building the rails. Even as even the Chinese doesn’t believe in it or seeing the lack of fortunes in Kenya to maybe wishing to extend the tracks further at this given moment. What we are seeing is that the Ugandan government has persisted, but not gone through.

They even had the idea of the SGR Railway in the National Development Plan II of 3rd March 2015, which also holds the idea of the rails alive with this statement: “Joint formal agreements for plans to build a new Standard Gauge railway (SGR) have been signed by the EAC Countries. The SGR project starts in Mombasa through Nairobi, Kampala, Kigali and Juba. A cross section of the different routes of the SGR to the South Western, Northern, North Western and Eastern Uganda will aid the mining industry through transportation of equipment and raw materials. The overall objective of the SGR is to jointly develop and operate a modern, fast, reliable, efficient and high capacity regional railway transport system as a seamless single system and as a mechanism to stimulate overall economic development” (NDPII, 03.03.2015). By the way, the implementation of the NDPII is supposed to be between 2015/2016 to 2019/2020 to fulfill the Vision 2020. However, by the SGR failure, this shows the lack of progress and just the major agreements, but not the needed funding or possibility of partners to invest in the huge infrastructure projects the government has.

While on the 3rd of October, the Ministry of Works produced the 14th Joint Transport Sector Review Workshop presentation, where they by June 2018 stated: “The financing agreement for the SGR was not signed. However, negotiations to sign the financing agreement are in advanced stages” (Ministry of Works, 03.10.2018). So, you see, the government knows perfectly well, they cannot and doesn’t have finances for the building of it. It is soon November 2018 and getting closer to Vision 2020, but no sign of a working rails across the Republic. Especially not, when they are waiting for the Chinese to see it as a viable project in the first place.

What the government didn’t tell today or yesterday, is that the Chinese said no a little while ago:

For it to make business sense, the proposed line has to reach Uganda in order to take over a huge chunk of the haulage business in the landlocked country ahead of the Tanzania-Rwanda SGR line. Uganda is said to have decided to revamp its old metre-gauge railway when it became apparent that the Kenyan line could delay for up to three years. A regional weekly recently reported that the ministers for transport and finance of the two countries were supposed to have engagements with China Exim Bank on the sections of Kisumu to Kampala via Malaba” (…) “This, however, flopped and instead the executives from China Exim Bank flew to Kampala and later Nairobi last November to carry out due diligence on the Uganda project proposal and contract application” (Guguyu Otiato – ‘Worry as China puts SGR funding on hold’ 06.03.2018 link: https://www.standardmedia.co.ke/business/article/2001294667/alarm-as-china-puts-sgr-funding-on-hold).

So, when the government are saying it wasn’t signed, is that the Exim Chinese Bank rejected it and hasn’t accepted the infrastructure project at this point. Certainly, they don’t see it viable or even possible for profits. They have already started in Kenya, but has to finish that part, before they extend to the other Republics in the EAC. Therefore, the SGR is still a dream elsewhere in the Northern Corridor, as they seemed more ready in 2015, than the donors or the development partners ever where. Because the GoU are not ready to finance it self and not have the ability to do so. Without getting funding from the outside. They have to beg for loans and grants to get it. Peace.

Joint Communique: 17th Ordinary Summity of the East African Community Heads of State

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11th Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit – Joint Communique (17.10.2015)

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Press Release: EAC deploys Regional Medical and Public Health Emergency Support Teams to Refugee Camps in Kigoma, Tanzania and Eastern Province of Rwanda (13.07.2015)

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Joint Communique: 9th Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit

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