Rwanda Saga Deepens as Uganda Moves to Issue Travel Advisory to Citizens

The Prime Minister, Ruhakana Rugunda has said government plans to issue a travel advisory to Ugandans intending to travel to Rwanda.

This comes on the heels of deteriorating diplomatic ties with the neighbouring country, with Rwanda asking its citizens to halt journeys to Uganda.

Hard pressed by MPs who are demanding an official statement on the diplomatic standoff, Rugunda admitted plans are underway to issue the travel restrictions.

“The plan of government is to issue an advisory message to the people of Uganda [intending to travel to Rwanda],” he said.

On Tuesday, Speaker Rebecca Kadaga directed First Deputy Prime Minister Gen Moses Ali to produce a government statement on the diplomatic row by Thursday.

Gen Ali said then that government will issue a statement when its ready.

Premier Rugunda was reluctant to be definitive about when the statement would be issued.

“The governments of Uganda and Rwanda are in contact with a view to resolving this issue and government will report to this August House,” said Rugunda.

His statement was criticized by Chief Opposition Whip, Ibrahim Ssemujju, who said Rugunda should be clear on the exact actions government intends to take.

“These are issues of life and death…there are Ugandans who are in Rwanda, and there are Ugandans who also want to go to Rwanda; Iam surprised that the Prime Minister is saying there are some issues which he cannot handle,” said Ssemujju.

Speaker Kadaga said she spoke to President Museveni earlier in the day, and that he committed to issuing travel advisory to citizens.

A travel advisory is issued by government departments to citizens, warning them of insecurity, crime, instability, disease or harsh weather likely to be encountered in a given destination.

In diplomacy, travel advisories signal escalation of diplomatic misunderstandings, and are issued to protest against a hostile position of a country.

Uganda and Rwanda has in the past two years battled mistrust and diplomatic problems, which escalated last week with the closure of the Katuna-Gatuna border, which Kigali claims was due to ongoing construction works.

Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr Richard Sezibera last week addressed a news conference, at which he said a number of Rwandan citizens are under illegal incarceration in Uganda.

Sezibera said Uganda is harbouring members of the Rwanda National Council, a group Kigali says seeks to topple President Paul Kagame’s government.

It is led by Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa, a renegade Rwandan military chief.

In a short media statement, Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa condemned Sezibera’s news conference, saying Rwanda “knows only too well that the allegations are false”.

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