For the first time since the beginning of the on-and-off conflict between Rwanda and Uganda started in late 1990s, President Paul Kagame gave a detailed account of the origins of this seemingly endless clash, its cause and how he tried to solve it.
While what most Rwandan and Ugandan officials have told their publics in recent times focused on recent events─like the arrest, torture and deportation of Rwandans in Uganda, economic sabotage, support to Kayumba Nyamwasa’s RNC and alleged spying by Rwandans in Uganda, Kagame went further than that.
The Head of State told more than 250 government officials and private sector leaders currently attending the 16th government retreat that Uganda’s support for individuals bent on overthrowing the Rwandan government dates more than 20 years ago; 1998 to be exact.
The president said that in 1998, through French academic Gerard Prunier, “Ugandan Generals” met former Rwanda internal affairs minister Seth Sendashonga and promised him support to overthrow the Kigali government.
Prunier himself has written about this incident and claimed to have been the intermediary between Ugandan generals and Sendashonga and claimed that it was his involvement in this subversive activity that got the latter killed in 1998.
Further, Kagame clarified that he has provided President Yoweri Museveni with evidence that RNC operatives are actively involved in and embedded in the Ugandan security and are deciding which Rwandan should or shouldn’t be arrested and that, businessman Threbelt Rujugiro, who is believed to fund RNC’s subversive activities is operating business freely in Uganda at the detriment of Kigali.
This decision by Kagame to inform Rwandans, East Africans and the world broadly about the genesis of the conflict with Uganda and how he tried to resolve it without success thus far due to the non-responsiveness of his Ugandan counterpart, is commendable.
In practice, this is how accountable governance and transparency looks like.
It’s through this kind of accountability and transparency about how foreign policy and relations with neighbours is conducted that informed citizenry can be nurtured, sustained and reproduced.
When citizens are fully aware of what’s being done in their name, the choices they have and the dangers they face, they are not only able to plan and tailor their lives accordingly but are also more able to understand the choices their leaders make and support them.
Now that Kagame has done his part and explained to Rwandans, East Africans and the world broadly, it’s President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni’s part to follow this good example and explain to Ugandans, East Africans and the world at large what he believes to be the cause of the conflict with Rwanda, and how, working with his Rwandan counterpart, intends to resolve it.
Talking is, by far, cheaper, wiser and statesmanlike – than the alternative.
At The chronicles, we believe it’s in the national interest of both countries to resolve this conflict peacefully; for there is a lot that the peoples of the two brotherly countries share that need to be protected.