President Paul Kagame has called for an end to the tension between Uganda and Rwanda that led to closure of Rwanda border on February 28.
Mr Kagame, who was addressing the Africa CEO Forum 2019 in Kigali on Tuesday, said on the official presidential twitter handle Presidency/Rwanda @Urigwiro Village that Uganda and Rwanda can avoid “quarrels” that might hurt both countries.
“To say the least, if we can’t work together as brothers, sisters, friends, we can decide to give each other peace and forget what we have to do together but above all avoid quarrels that will be destructive because no one will win from any serious quarrel,” he told the summit.
His reconciliatory tweet is seen as a change from his earlier hardline position when told Rwanda’s local and central government officials on March 16 during a retreat at Rwanda Defence Forces Combat Training Centre, Gabiro in Gatsibo District that no one can bring him to his knees.
However, Mr Olivier Nduhungirehe, Rwanda’s minister in charge of East African Community Affairs, yesterday told Daily Monitor that Mr Kagame has not softened.
“The President has been clear right from the start and as government, we have given three options. The first option is that we want to work towards normalisation of the relations for economic cooperation. We have said this before. The second option is that if the first option is not possible, we should ignore each other. But that’s not our preferred option. The third option, which is the worst is that if Uganda wants do harm to us, and continues to support our enemies, Rwanda is ready to defend itself,” Mr Nduhungirehe said.
Uganda’s Regional Cooperation Minister Philemon Mateke yesterday said that “there are no quarrels” between both countries.
In a separate interview, Col Shaban Bantariza, the Uganda Media Centre deputy executive director, last evening said: “That is a positive statement and that has been the policy that nobody benefits from such a situation.”
Rwanda closed the border with Uganda and all the Ugandan cargo trucks have been blocked from entering Rwanda over allegations that Uganda is harassing and arresting Rwandans, an allegation Uganda has denied.
During the same forum, which was also attended by DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi, Mr Kagame also said it was only the people or Rwanda who can remove him from power.
“Whether you like me or not, President Kagame is here as President of Rwanda, it is the business of the people of Rwanda. If they want Kagame, they will have him and if they don’t they will remove him,” he said.
Rwanda also claims that Uganda harbours the Rwanda National Congress dissidents to undermine the Kigali government.
President Tshisekedi said leaders should not conflict because it’s a waste of time.
“Our countries will be neighbours forever, as leaders, we are here temporarily but our countries will always be there. Conflict with each other is a waste of time, time that could be used to build our countries,” he said.