Diplomats working overtime to resolve Uganda-Rwanda tensions

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Uganda officials call for calm

Ugandans and Rwandans have been urged to remain calm as their respective governments work to resolve an ongoing dispute over the arbitrary detention of Rwandan citizens.

Uganda’s prime minister Ruhakana Rugunda on Sunday appealed for calm, saying the country’s foreign affairs ministry was working to resolve the issue.

“Uganda and Rwanda are brotherly countries, therefore, people should not get worried because the issues shall be handled and concluded. The Uganda Foreign Affairs Ministry is working on the matter,” Rugunda told residents in the South Western town of Kabale.

These same sentiments were echoed by Uganda’s state minister for foreign affairs, Okello Oryem, who called for ‘calm and patience from both sides’.

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“Uganda and Rwanda are two blood brothers in this regard you can’t rule out simple misunderstanding as family do. I beg for calm and patience from both sides,’‘ Okello said.

Rwanda and Uganda have longstanding mutual suspicions and have occasionally traded allegations of supporting each other’s dissidents.

Last week, Uganda’s government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo said his government will review allegations of arbitrary detentions of Rwandans which authorities in Kigali have cited as one the reasons for stopping the country’s nationals from coming to Uganda.

Explainer: Understanding the Rwanda – Uganda crisis

Reports of army deployment

Earlier on Monday, Ugandan media reported that Rwanda had deployed the army along its common border with Uganda as a diplomatic rift continues to rage between the two East African neighbours.

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Uganda’s privately-owned Observer news portal reported on Monday that Rwandan soldiers could be seen along the hills at Mukaniga, Byumba and Buganza.

The report added that: “… at Chanika in Kisoro district, the Rwandan army can be seen patrolling the Rwandan side of the border.”

It added that Uganda’s Internal Security Organization, ISO, officials and locals had also confirmed the development. On their side Ugandan authorities say they have not seen the need for such a deployment.

The two countries in 2000 fought a deadly war in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Kisangani. It is reported that the duel led to over 1,000 casualties.

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Rwanda only last week said its borders with Uganda remained opened but that it was strongly advised that nationals avoid travel to the neighbour.

Kigali accuses Kampala of arbitrary detention of its nationals and backing of groups that are working against Kigali.

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