Seven weeks later, Rwanda has still maintained the closure of Uganda Rwanda boarder at Gatuna despite several efforts by the Kampala.
Rwanda had earlier stated that the closure was due to construction activities but it later emerged that the closure was motivated by other ideas especially politics according to president Kagame.
“The problem (of the border closure) is not the road or the road being constructed. The problem is politics,” said Kagame on 26 March while addressing delegates that were attending the African CEO Forum in Kigali.
Kigali has since maintained a strong military deployment along its boarders with Uganda and imposing a travel ban to Uganda on its citizens citing numerous arrests and torture.
Many Rwandans depend on Uganda for basic home user goods, food, and other services, and these are in short supply since the border shutdown. For instance, the price of a bar of soap has since risen from RF 1000 to RF 4000 (about UGX 15,000/-).
Here is a timeline of key events that have shaped the relations between the two countries in recent times:
August 1999: RDF Attacks UPDF in Kisangani.
For inexplicable reasons, the Rwandan army attacked and blockaded UPDF forces in the DRC city of Kisangani, despite the fact that the friendly forces were allies fighting on the same side. One UPDF General was to later describe the action by the Rwandan partners as “treacherous.” “UPDF were stabbed in the back by their supposedly Rwandan allies, but as we now know very well, that has always been their modus-operandi,” he hastened to add. The attacks by RDF on UPDF positions were repeated in June 2000, and 2002, despite efforts by Uganda to smoothen the relations between the two countries.
2009 – 2017: Abduction and killing of Rwandan refugees in Uganda
For years, Rwanda government state operatives have with the help of some rogue elements in Uganda’s security services operated behind the back of Ugandan authorities to kidnap and sometimes kill dissidents and perceived Rwanda government critics who had sought refuge in Uganda. For instance, in November 2011, prominent Rwandan journalist Charles Ingabire was murdered in Bukesa, a Kampala suburb after being trailed for weeks by Rwandan operatives. A few weeks later, Jerome Ndagijimana, a member of the opposition United Democratic Forces of Rwanda had his throat slit at a store he worked in Kampala, and the assassins fled without a trace.
February 2019: Rwanda closes border with Uganda
On the morning of 28 February 2019, and without warning, Rwandan authorities unilaterally closed the common border with Uganda at Katuna and Cyanika, trapping hundreds of cargo trucks loaded with goods in the no-man’s land between the two countries. Ugandan foreign minister Sam Kutesa later said in a statement Rwanda had imposed a full-scale trade embargo on Uganda. Rwanda has also since maintained a heavy military presence along with the common frontier stocking fear and despondency amongst the border communities.