Two East African nations that nearly went to war in the late 1990s are currently not seeing eye to eye and locked in a bitter dispute over border crossing

Rwandan President Paul Kagame (L) and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni
  • Ugandan government spokesman said since Wednesday, 129 cargo trucks have been stuck at the border.
  • Rwandan government on its hand says it was forced to stop its Citizens from going into Uganda because they are unfairly detained and accused of being spies with no consular services provided to them.
  • A protracted halt to people and goods crossing any of the borders along the route has the potential to trigger a major regional economic crisis.

On Friday, Uganda accused Rwanda of blocking goods trucks and other vehicles from entering the country, and going as far as stopping its nationals from crossing into Uganda amid a resurgence of hostility between the two African neighbours.

Ugandan government spokesman Ofwono Opondo told reporters in Kampala, that Rwandan authorities have been blocking entry to vehicles from Uganda since Wednesday, adding that so far 129 cargo trucks are now stuck at the border.

Mr. Opondo added that Rwandans being stopped at the border included traders and hundreds of children who cross the border daily to attend schools on the Ugandan side.

Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister Richard Sezibera however was quick to deny this, saying trucks were being diverted to Kagitumba border crossing in the north because of construction at the busy Gatuna border post.

“Those who have gone through Kagitumba, they have crossed,” he said.

Opondo however insisted that the crossing at Kagitumba had also been blocked.

As for stopping its nationals from crossing the border, Sezibera said the Rwandan government was forced to do so because its Citizens going into Uganda have been unfairly detained and accused of being spies with no consular services provided to them.

People are coming in, people are going out except for Rwandans who have been strongly advised not to travel to Uganda because of challenges of insecurity that they are facing there,” he said.

“It’s not up to Rwanda. It’s up to Uganda (to sort it out). Of course Ugandans are welcome here, we have no problem on our side of the border.”

Speaking at a news conference before Sezibera’s remarks, Opondo denied that Rwandans were being held for political reasons, saying that if there were any Rwandans in Ugandan prisons they had been processed through the police and judicial system.

Ugandan officials have since summoned Rwanda’s ambassador to Uganda, Frank Mugambage, to provide an explanation, said Opondo.

Landlocked Rwanda transports a significant amount of its imports via a trade route passing through Uganda from the Kenyan seaport of Mombasa.

The same trade route serves as a crucial pipeline for Kenyan exports and also helps supply merchandise to Burundi and parts of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

A protracted halt to people and goods crossing any of the borders along the route therefore has the potential to trigger a major regional economic crisis.

The border dispute between Uganda and Rwanda appears to be an escalation of the Cold War-style hostilities and allegations by the two countries of supporting each other’s dissidents that have been reported in Ugandan and regional media over recent months.

Relations between the two countries have historically alternated between friendly and hostile.

Rwanda and Uganda nearly went to war in the late 1990s after their forces clashed in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo where they jointly helped topple former dictator Mobutu Sese Seko before turning on each other.

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