September 15, 2019

It Is In National Interest For Rwanda-Uganda Peace Teams To Resolve Conflict Now

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Rwanda’s foreign affairs minister Dr Richard Sezibera with Uganda counterpart Sam Kutesa on the latter’s visit in Kigali last October to deliver message his boss President Yoweri Museveni

The Rwanda-Uganda peace implementation teams are meeting in Kigali this Monday, September 16, to agree on the how and when, to implement the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Presidents Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.

The MoU was signed in Luanda, Angola, on August 21 under the mediation authority of Presidents João Lourenço of Angola and Félix Tshisekedi of DR Congo.

The Ugandan team is led by the country’s foreign affairs minister Sam Kutesa who arrived in the country yesterday on Sunday, September 15. The Rwandan team is led by the state minister for foreign affairs in charge of the East African Community (EAC) Olivier Nduhungirehe.

As Nduhungirehe informed the media, “The agenda [of this meeting] is simple, the implementation of the Luanda MoU”.

In view of the fact that the leaders of the two sister countries already agreed the issues to resolve, it shouldn’t be difficult for the negotiating teams to agree on the “when” and the “how”, where political will and good faith exists.

In fact, it should even be “easier” since the MoU clearly stated that its implementation “shall enter into force immediately upon signature”. That is, implementation should have started on August 21, 2019.

As delegates of the two countries meet to agree the “how” of implementing the MoU agreed and signed by the presidents of the two countries, it’s important to remind four facts underpinning the conflict currently.

First, there is nothing in the 4-points and 8 associated “issues” outlined in the MoU that isn’t clear or that is difficult to resolve today. All it would require is will to do so on the part of protagonists.

These issues agreed to be resolved can be grouped into four: respecting the sovereignty of each country; treating each other’s citizens according to the law; ceasing support for dissidents and armed groups; and resuming normal cross-broader trade and therefore opening borders to allow the flow of goods, services, capital and people.

Where political will and good faith exists, resolving these agreed-upon conflict flash-points shouldn’t take long; for it only requires taking action than anything else.

For example, releasing Rwandans in custody in Ugandan prisons can easily be implemented right now since it wouldn’t require any reciprocity as Rwanda doesn’t have any Ugandans in prison just as opening borders or ceasing support for dissidents would only require doing just that.

To prolong decisions to take these measures is to prolong the suffering of ordinary citizens who, in this conflict, have paid the heaviest price.

Secondly, while there is evidence to show that no issue mentioned in the agreement has been resolved so far, there is evidence to show that some of the issues that were supposed to have ended with the signing of the MoU, have, in fact continued as 32 Rwandans were deported from Uganda last week despite the agreement.

Third, continued conflict not only hurts the East Africa Community (EAC) integration project, but is illegal as it contravenes the treaty establishing the community especially in relations to free movement of people, goods, services, capital and respect for human rights.

Finally, as many have argued, it’s in the national interest of both countries to resolve this conflict. There is nothing the two countries can benefit from prolonging or allowing this conflict to fester; only enemies of both countries can benefit.

The more this conflict is kept alive, the more it hurts ordinary citizens on either side of the border and the more it ruins businesses, families and long cultivated historical friendships between the peoples of the two countries.

At The Chronicles, we urge the two delegations to look at the bigger picture and agree to cease tensions in the national interests of their states, and to do it now.

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