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

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' 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.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs