The justice and constitutional affairs minister, Kahinda Otafiire, has said he is as confused as some Ugandans about the source of the impasse between Uganda and her neighbor Rwanda.
The retired major general said the conflict, which has been simmering for months, before resulting in the closure of the Rwandan side of Katuna border last week, is also baffling.
“I have no idea about that conflict, just like you. It is baffling because Rwanda is not stopping Ugandans from crossing to their side. They are only stopping goods from Uganda and Rwandans coming to Uganda,” Otafiire said yesterday.
Otafiire, who had initially refused to answer any questions on the UgandaRwanda relations, after launching a report on refugees at Sheraton Kampala Hotel yesterday, said Rwanda is probably trying to arrest some of her nationals.
“I am only speculating. Maybe they want to arrest some people inside Rwanda. They are not molesting Ugandans, but are stopping Rwandans from leaving,” Otafiire said.
The minister said he has no information regarding claims about Rwandans held in Uganda and challenged the Rwandan authorities to publish a list of their nationals in custody.
“Let them give us a list of the people arrested in Uganda. I have no idea about any Rwandan arrested in Uganda,” Otafiire said.
Last weekend, the Uganda Media Centre boss, Ofwono Opondo, said Uganda does not have any ill intentions against Rwanda and has not carried out arbitrary arrests against her nationals. If there are Rwandans who have been arrested in Uganda, he added, the arrests have been processed through the laid down legal channels.
Ofwono downplayed any possible links between the border closure and deportation of MTN top staff last month, including a Rwandan national, over espionage. Rwandan president Paul Kagame was quoted in an interview published by the East African newspaper recently saying that Rwanda’s problem with Uganda stems from elements in South Africa circulating unsubstantiated reports against Rwanda.
Richard Sezibera, the Rwandan foreign affairs minister, yesterday blamed the anti-Rwanda agents operating in Kampala and South Africa for the current stand-off. The closure of the Katuna border crossing without official explanation initially partly violated the customs union and common market protocols of the East African Community (EAC). President Kagame is the current EAC chair.