Rwanda’s president has confirmed ongoing rumours of bad blood with neighboring country-Uganda saying the relations are been worsened by silence from both leaders.
Kagame spoke in an interview with Pamella Sitto before he handed the rotational African Union chair to his Egyptian counter-part Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on February 10, 2019.
In the interview published verbatim by the Daily Monitor, the reporter asked Kagame if his chairmanship in the East African Community (EAC) will be affected by the relationship between Rwanda and Burundi or Uganda?
“Well, I don’t think so. If that is to be said of bad relations between Uganda and Rwanda, how then was it affecting Uganda’s chairmanship? You could start from there. If Uganda’s chairmanship was not being affected, then my chairmanship will not be affected,” he said.
“But, seriously, whatever not-so-good relations between countries of the East African Community, there have been and there should continue to be efforts, to try and find out how to resolve whatever it is, so that this stops being in the way of good progress of the East African Community.”
He goes on to speak: I cannot give you a formula but, in my mind, even before I became the chair, and even more so that I am chair, it’s on my mind.
I hope it’s also on the minds of other leaders — that, whatever it is, it is not necessary and it is not good for us.
We need to figure out how we can resolve those issues. And, at the same time, not allowing them to stand in the way of the progress we should be making as East Africans.
Surely there has to be a way of dealing with that. I’m sure the other leaders are thinking about
. I’m thinking about it for sure. We’re better than this. I think we can do better.
Asked if Uganda’s relation with Rwanda is getting worse or improving considering that the two countries’ history, Kagame said, “Yes, there is a good foundation from which we should be building a very good relationship. There is no question about it. Therefore, it is very intriguing, to find that, even with that history and a good foundation, we have something like this going on. And it goes on every day, even as we speak. It is hard to just put it in one word or even a few words. All I can say is that it’s a matter that can be resolved. That must be resolved. Because the alternative is not something that we should even be thinking about, or entertaining; that we can stand in the way of our own progress or the progress of all East Africans.”
“Because we have made so many pronouncements, we’ve made statements. When it comes to optics, to the microphones, we are saying the best things and the right things. But we should make an effort to do those things, not just say them. It doesn’t hurt anyone to keep on trying. What hurts is keeping quiet. And of course things are not improving because of that. Because we’re not doing much. We have had discussions over this for two years, we can resolve them whether it is egos or just wishing that things should be bad.”
Kagame in the same interview also confirmed bad blood between Rwanda and Burundi.
“Actually for Burundi, the situation is simpler and clearer. For example, when Burundi has publicly stated that Rwanda is its only problem. People make their own judgment. Let’s imagine that Rwanda does not exist, is it true that Burundi would not be having problems?
There are people charged with responsibilities for Burundi; President Benjamin Mkapa as facilitator and President Museveni as the mediator and then other East Africans, [and they] have not come up with much success to help Burundi solve their problems.
They could have said that they have found out that Burundi does not have any problems and that problem comes from outside.
Kagame denied any sour relation with DR Congo but confirmed that South Africa has issues with them [Rwanda].
“With DR Congo, we have no problem. But between South Africa and ourselves, there are these matters that go around in the media. Some of the things that are said to be believed by Uganda about us, are coming from these individuals living in South Africa.
It is these individuals in South Africa plotting all kinds of things against us [and they] are the ones giving information to Uganda in a way to solicit support from Uganda against us,” he said.