On Wednesday 27 February 2019 at 17:00hrs local time, Rwanda closed its northern border with Uganda at Gatuna, ostensibly to allow construction works for the One Stop Border Post (OSBP). The Rwandan government at the same time strongly advised its citizens against crossing into Uganda. The two developments took the Kampala government by surprise.
In what seemed like the tactic of an irritated neighbour, Rwanda’s actions were triggered by a conviction that Uganda is hosting and aiding dissidents plotting to destabilize Kigali. Rwanda also accused Uganda of arresting and torturing its citizens who stay in Uganda. But the Kampala government denied all the accusations.
The border at Gatuna remains closed months later, with no signs of the situation abetting soon. According to sources in both countries, there are high level diplomatic talks aimed at thawing the distrust. President Museveni on March 10 sent a letter to President Kagame, admitting how he “accidentally met” members of the Rwanda National Congress (RNC), a group that Kigali says is planning to topple Kagame.
Kagame, who succeeded Museveni as chairman of the East Africa Community, after a success laden tenure as chairperson of African Union sent a positive message on 29 March, 2019, when opening strategic retreat of the council of ministers and heads of organs & institutions of EAC in Kigali. Amidst the crisis, Kagame said the region should maintain a spirit of “frank, brotherly discussion aimed at finding right remedies for current challenges.”
Museveni in his March 10 letter also underscored the importance of regional peace. He said Uganda can never support “anti-Rwanda elements.”