A new dawn awakens for the citizens of Uganda and Rwanda who anxiously await to reap the fruits of the recent peace deal that was brokered in Luanda on August 21.
Many hope that the “Friendship Agreement” signed by President Yoweri Museveni and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame will help defuse the tensions that have paralyzed many aspects of their citizen’s lives for two years.
The tensions, which surfaced in 2017, have caused a political and diplomatic crisis, developments that have affected the movement of goods and people between the two countries especially after February this year, when the busiest mainland border post between Uganda and Rwanda, Gatuna, was closed by Rwanda.
The standoff escalated when both governments traded counter-accusations of meddling in the internal affairs of one another, espionage, assassinations and economic sabotage.
If not resolved, the row between the two leaders risks dragging in East African neighbors, threatening economic integration and regional stability in an already conflict-prone swathe of the continent.
The restoration of diplomatic channels is being seen as a positive development in the effort to resolve this crisis. However, political observers remain skeptical – cautioning that it may take time before relations between the two countries are restored.
Analysts say a strong political will is needed on both sides to enforce the agreement as it will require a lot of compromises and restraint.
For example, despite the signing of the agreement, there was no immediate indication of smoothing relations as the propaganda war and misinformation remained throughout the week after the pact.
On Thursday August 22, a day after the peace pact, Uganda blocked pro-Rwandan government media websites for allegedly publishing content that is “harmful and detrimental to national security.”
Rwanda responded on Friday by blocking media sites such as New Vision, the Daily Monitor and The Observer in a move that seemed to scuttle whatever progress had been achieved in Luanda days earlier.
To many observers, the solution to the tensions resides in the political will of President Museveni and Kagame to exercise full commitment and respect to the pact they signed.