Legislators have demanded that government immediately explains and resolves the standoff between Uganda and Rwanda that has led to the closure of the border between the two countries.
The MPs said that it would not be proper for the House to continue sitting oblivious of what is happening at the South Western border.
Rwanda last week closed its border crossing with Uganda at Katuna and asked travellers and motorists to instead use the crossing at Mirama hills. The closure has affected pedestrians, traders and students on both sides of the divide alike.
Last month, Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda allayed the fears of MPs following criticism of Uganda by Rwanda’s State Minister of Foreign Affairs in Charge of the East African Community, Mr Olivier Nduhungirehe.
Rugunda then said a statement on steps taken to restore weakening diplomatic ties between the two countries would be issued.
But First Deputy Prime Minister Gen Moses Ali, who today faced mounting pressure from MPs, maintained government will issue a statement “when we are ready.”
“Government is going to brief the House, and we can only do that when we are ready,” he said.
“It is now a cat and mouse game that government is playing us [Parliament]…where are we standing with Rwanda? We need a timeline on when government will furnish us with details,” said Anna Adeke (Ind., National Female Youth).
The debate was sparked by MP Muhammad Nsereko (Ind., Kampala Central), who said MPs are being deliberately kept unaware about the diplomatic standoff.
“It is appalling today that all of us are kept in the dark as to what is happening between Uganda and Rwanda; Uganda and Rwanda are losing about US$30 million in revenue due to the closure of the borders,” said Nsereko.
Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, who presided over the House, gave Gen Ali up to Thursday this week to present a statement on the issue.
She said that government had taken the issue, which was first raised in Parliament last week, lightly.
“I want government to take this issue seriously; Ugandans want to know if they can continue taking goods to the border, and buses can take passengers,” she said.
The diplomatic relations took a new twist this month, with the closure of the border, which has stranded traders and their goods, occasioning losses.
Yesterday, Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mr Richard Sezibera further accused Uganda of alleged support to the Rwanda National Congress (RNC), which Kigali has isolated as a rebel outfit.
Kutesa issues statement
Minutes after Gen Ali’s statement, Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa issued a media statement, terming as false claims that Uganda is encouraging subversive elements in Rwanda.
“It is false that Uganda hosts any elements fighting Rwanda; Rwanda knows this very well as it has been a matter of confidential information at the highest level,” said Kutesa in a statement shared by President Museveni’s Senior Press Secretary, Don Innocent Wanyama.