September 16, 2019

Rwanda, Uganda Agree To Stop Media “Propaganda” Against Each Other

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Uganda’s foreign affairs minister Sam Kutesa (L) shakes hands with Rwanda foreign ministry state minister in charge of EAC Olivier Nduhungirehe at the meeting today

In the first meeting of the top implementing body for the Angola MoU, Rwandan and Ugandan delegations have agreed to end attacks in “both mainstream and social media”.

Describing the sometimes profanities-filled publications and posts as “propaganda”, the communiqué says the two sides are “committed to cease all forms of hostile propaganda”.

Uganda’s foreign affairs minister Sam Kutesa led Kampala’s team including internal affairs minister Gen Jeje Odong, Attorney General William Byaruhanga, direct-general of the external security organization (ESO) and high commissioner Oliver Wonekha.

Rwanda’s side was led by foreign affairs ministry state minister in charge of the east Africa community (EAC) Olivier Nduhungirehe, local government minister Prof Anastase Shyaka, Justice minister and attorney general Johnston Busingye, secretary-general of the national intelligence and security service (NISS) Maj Gen Joseph Nzabamwita, and high commissioner to Uganda Maj Gen Frank Mugambage.

The agreement to stop media campaigns comes after both Kampala and Kigali blocked media sites from either side. In addition to obscure websites, even mainstream sites were blocked. No word was given on when or whether the blocked websites will be unblocked.

Rwanda’s foreign affairs minister Dr Richard Sezibera is still recovering from illness. He has been away since July 14.

The delegations before they went into the closed door session away from the media glare

The 7-point communiqué says Rwanda and Uganda will “refrain from acts of destabilization” against each other – a key issue that caused the collapse of relations since February. But this point was also in the MoU the presidents of both countries signed.

However, the border issue has been left out. Rwanda stopped its citizens from going to Uganda, accusing Ugandan security of arresting them arbitrarily. Hundreds of Rwandans have been deported and one eventually died allegedly due to torture meted on him by Ugandan security operatives.

Uganda says Rwanda has closed its Gatuna border and doesn’t allow in its goods, but Kigali disputes the accusation.

On the other hand, Rwanda accuses Uganda of confiscating its exports especially minerals headed to the Kenyan port of Mombasa. Uganda has dismissed this as well as it has dismissed support for its dissidents and armed groups.

The two delegations, it seems in the closed doors meeting, were unable to determine how to move forward with the border issue. It has been moved to next meeting.

The next meeting will be held on October 16 or some days after in Kampala, if all goes according to plan.

However, it remains unclear at this point if all the points agreed have been given timelines and mechanisms by which they will be handled.

Angolan and DR Congo ministers attended the Kigali meeting, since their leaders are the mediators.

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