News / Africa

Uganda, Rwanda Move to Mend Troubled Relations

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni (R) shakes hands his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame at Entebbe State House, in Entebbe, Uganda, December 11, 2011.
Uganda President Yoweri Museveni (R) shakes hands his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame at Entebbe State House, in Entebbe, Uganda, December 11, 2011.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has wrapped up a two-day trip to Uganda - where he was given an award by the Ugandan president for inspiring Africa’s younger generation. The trip is seen as a sign of growing rapprochement between two countries.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni cited the leadership of his Rwandan counterpart Kagame as he presented him with a lifetime achievement award Sunday at the annual Young Achievers Awards ceremony in Kampala.

Many here see the award as just one more sign of improving relations between Uganda and Rwanda, after Museveni visited Kigali earlier this year. Relations have been rocky since 1999, when the Ugandan and Rwandan armies, supporting rival rebel factions, clashed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There were several more skirmishes in the decade that followed.

Longtime rivalry

Political analyst Nicholas Sengoba in Kampala said suspicion between the two neighbors runs deep.

“Whenever Uganda has a problem, they always keep talking about people who are being helped by a foreign country. And many people believe that this euphemism of ‘foreign country’ is actually Rwanda and the president of Rwanda,” said Sengoba.

But there was little of that on display at the ceremony and during the speeches, where unity and connections were stressed.

Kagame actually grew up in Uganda, one of thousands of displaced Rwandan Tutsis who fled violence and persecution at home. Joining the Ugandan army, he served as head of military intelligence under Museveni before forming the Rwandan Patriotic Front, or RPF. The RPF then fought its way back into Rwanda during the 1994 genocide.

The Ugandan president on Sunday praised Kagame’s history as a fighter, and commended the RPF for having saved Rwanda.

“At that time we had challenges, and they took that choice of fighting for our country, first of all here in Uganda and later on in Rwanda.  Who saved Rwanda? It was the young people with the right ideas,” said Museveni.

Mending a deep rift

In his speech, Kagame emphasized the importance of unity between the two countries.

"Addressing the Ugandan youth feels very familiar. It is like being home talking to our own Rwandan young men and women. That is because they have a lot in common, but also because their destiny, like that of other young Africans, is intertwined. It is our responsibility as leaders and mentors to encourage them to work together," said Kagame. "The new world order has demonstrated beyond doubt that all countries need to work together to find solutions to their problems. This is even more compelling for us in Africa.”

Sengoba said the timing of Uganda’s improving relations with its neighbors is not accidental. With the large oil reserves in western Uganda on the verge of being tapped, he said that regional stability has suddenly taken on a new level of importance.

“Now that DR Congo has had a very inconclusive election, you can see that the security situation on that side is something to cause concern.  Part of the Albertine area in which we have discovered our oil is bordered by DR Congo. All these efforts at rapprochement with Rwanda, and ensuring that there are good relations with all the other neighbors, one of the issues is mainly preserving and protecting the oil, especially from a very insecure and volatile neighbor like DR Congo,” said Sengoba.

Serious accusations persist

The lifetime achievement award comes less than two weeks after a Rwandan journalist living in Uganda, a vocal critic of Kagame, was shot dead in a Kampala bar. Many exiled Rwandans blame the Rwandan security forces for the killing, under what they say is increasingly authoritarian rule. Reporters Without Borders have said that Rwandan journalists face harassment and arrest, and Amnesty International has accused the government of using its genocide denial laws to stifle opposition.

But the Rwandan president brushed aside such allegations at a news conference Monday in Kampala, preferring to keep the focus on what he sees as his positive achievements. He also suggested he might run for a third seven-year term - something which would require a constructional amendment.

Sengoba points out that for Kagame, better relations with Uganda could help him control his enemies.

“It is really important that President Kagame actually has a neighbor here who would never offer comfort and encouragement to those who don’t agree with him. That is one of the things that Kagame has to gain out of this,” said Sengoba.

Kagame also is expected to attend the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region in Kampala later this week, a summit of leaders aimed at furthering the cause of regional integration.

You May Like

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid