Earlier on Friday, January 28, 2022 newsrooms are washed with announcements from the Rwandan government promising the reopening of the Gatuna border with the Republic of Uganda.
It’s nearly three years since disagreement broke out between the two neighboring and very close relatives of Rwanda and Uganda. The closure of borders crossings of Cyanika, and Gatuna (Katuna) broke out as Rwanda was accusing the government of Uganda to be behind the rebel activities which had started crossing from the Congo Border to Rwanda. As well the government of Uganda accused Rwanda of illegally spying on the country and a number of Rwandan nationals were arrested and deported to Rwanda.
Rwanda went ahead to warn its citizens not to temper crossing borders to Uganda, claiming there was no possibility of the safety of Rwandans to Uganda.
Both governments have hardened their necks as the economies being affected by this move, nothing was allowed to cross the border especially heading to Rwanda. And in most cases, two countries were seen assembling their troops on borders as if at any time something was blasting out.
It’s good news, following several envoys representing Uganda on matters of negotiation on the platforms of reopening borders to enable possible economies and other businesses here. Among the envoys were Ambassador Adonia Ayebare Uganda’s permanent representative to the United Nations.
Another Uganda’s envoy to Rwanda was the first son, senior presidential advisor on matters of security, and commander of UPDF land forces Gen. Muhonzi Kainerugaba who represented Uganda to negotiate with the Rwandan President on matters of reopening borders.
In a latter by the Rwandan government
“following the visit to Rwanda of Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, Senior Presidential Advisor on Special Operations and Commander of Land Forces of the Uganda People’s Defence forces (U9PDF) on January 22, 2022, the Government of Rwanda has taken note that there is a process to solves issues raised by Rwanda, as well as commitments made by the Government of Uganda to address remaining obstacles.
In this regard and in line with the communique of the 4th Quadripartite Summit held at Gatuna/Katuna on February 21, 2020, the government of Rwanda wishes to inform the public that the Gatuna border post between Rwanda and Uganda will be re-opened from 31 January 2022.”
The ball now is on the health sectors of both countries to ensure that Covid-19 prevention measures are surely installed before the open date.
The Gatuna border is known to be one port linking border for most of the imports that run from Kenya’s port of Mombasa through Uganda and finally to Rwanda through the Gatuna border.
Uganda, Rwanda, and DR Congo are famously known to be the only host conservation areas for mountain gorillas. And this had earlier accelerated tourism growth as the two countries could easily enable combined travel packages including gorilla tours. And arose bitter relations complicated the issues of tourism between countries which affected much many tour operators for both countries.
It is now two years ago since the presidents of Rwanda Kagame and Uganda Museveni signed an agreement in Angola to ease tensions after the two leaders exchanged accusations of spying, political assassinations, and meddling. Rwanda months earlier closed the border.
The two countries are both members of the East African Community which is as well joined with Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi, South Sudan, and DR Congo in process of completing membership to the community. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda is today the chairman of the community, creating this mutual understanding would be a great achievement as the chairman
On 22 December 2021, the East African community had the Head of State Virtual Summit which was chaired by Kenyan President Kenyatta. The summit was attended by Uganda president Museveni, Tanzania president Samia Suluhu, and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame.
The reopening of the Gatuna border can be a good fruit of the December EAC Heads of State summit.