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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs