The opposition’s loose outfit, People’s Government led by former presidential candidate Dr Kizza Besigye has announced that they will soon open diplomatic communication with the Rwanda government.
The move, they say is aimed at calming down the simmering diplomatic tensions between Uganda and Rwanda. About two weeks ago, Rwanda closed its Gatuna border in Kabale district, reportedly to upgrade their one stop border post. The move, was, however construed as an attempt to slow down or stop entry of Ugandan goods into Rwanda.
The story, quickly turned to allegations by Rwanda that Uganda is hosting and aiding dissidents, plotting to overthrow the Kigali government. Rwanda also claimed that Uganda is arresting and torturing its citizens. After closing the border, Rwanda barred its citizens from entering Uganda, arguing that they can’t guarantee their security.
The climax of Rwanda’s accusations against Uganda came from the Rwanda President Paul Kagame on Saturday. Addressing the 16th National Leadership Retreat at the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) Combat Training Center in Gabiro, Eastern Province, Kagame said Uganda has failed to address its concerns for over 20 years.
Kagame said he has over years, raised the issues to Museveni, who he said, remains indifferent. In what has been interpreted as a quick veiled response to Museveni’s continued assertions that no one will destabilize Uganda, Kagame said those who don’t want their countries to be destabilized should also not be destabilizing other countries.
Forum for Democratic Change spokesperson, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda who is also People’s Government deputy prime minister said the continued sounding of war drums by the two leaders, is not good for ordinary citizens who will be the ultimate victims if the the two countries go into war.
“We’re concerned by the continued and continuing sounding of the war drums by Mr Museveni. Museveni while presiding over the opening of factories [in Mukono on Saturday], he was sending a message, warning that those who want to destabilize Uganda will face destruction. Of course that was a veiled message meant for Rwanda, no wonder there was almost an immediate response from Rwandan President Paul Kagame, also saying those who are talking about not destabilizing their country, shouldn’t also destabilize other countries. So this sounding of war drum not only concerns us as a party but also as citizens.” Ssemujju said.
For the good of ordinary Ugandans, Ssemujju said the People’s Government foreign affairs minister, Atkins Katusabe will officially write to Rwanda counterpart, Richard Sezibera seeking an understanding of the issues. If they get a response, he said it will be sent to Inter-Religious Council, requesting them to cause dialogue between the Uganda and Rwanda leaders. The letter, Ssemujju said, will be sent this week.
Ssemujju says they will seek the mediation of clerics because of their neutrality and status they are accorded in society. If the diplomatic standoff is not thawed, Ssemujju argued that its ordinary Ugandans and Rwandans especially traders and border communities who will continue to be at loss.
Museveni, aged 74 years, Ssemujju argued should be talking in a reconciliatory tone rather than sounding war drums. He said wars and fought and won by youthful commanders. Ssemujju joked that if Museveni wants to fight, he should be deployed to Somalia to face off al-Shabaab insurgents just as he recently advised his violent soldiers after Rtd Maj Gen Matayo Kyaligonza and his bodyguards allegedly assaulted a traffic policewoman on duty, Sgt Esther Namaganda and a UBC journalist, Peter Otai.
“Museveni likes violence unfortunately even in old age, because old people tend to be reconciliatory in nature. At 74 if you’re still sounding war drums really? At 74, which war can Museveni fight at his age? This should be done by children, people who are young. Those who fought in Luweero were young, fresh from the universities. Now a 74-year-old is saying he wants to lead a war against those who want to destabilize Uganda. May be I will make the same plea, if Museveni still has some energy in him, we can deploy him in Somalia because that is where there’s a war. Let him not invite war unto Uganda.” said Ssemujju.