The presidents of Rwanda and Uganda on Wednesday signed an agreement in Angola to end tensions between the two neighbors, an AFP correspondent said .
The relations between Rwandan presidents Paul Kagame and Ugandan Yoweri Museveni have deteriorated in recent months to the point of causing former allies to accuse each other of spying, political assassination and interference in the internal affairs of the other country .
The memorandum of understanding they signed was signed in Luanda in the presence of the presidents of Angola, Joao Lourenço, of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Felix Tshisekedi, and Congo, Denis Sassou Nguesso.
After the ceremony, President Kagame said he expected no problem in his “more precise cooperation with President Museveni to address what we have committed to deal with.”
Tensions between Rwanda and Uganda led to the closure of the border between the two countries in February.
At that time, Rwanda abruptly banned its nationals from crossing the common border, an essential crossing point for trade in the region, a border also closed to Ugandans wishing to export to Rwanda.
EGOS SET ASIDE?
Diplomats and observers hoped Wednesday’s pact, with its specific commitments from the leaders, would calm the tensions.
“It is a very good starting point,” said University of Rwanda lecturer Christopher Kayumba after the signing. “Whether the egos will be put aside and this document be implemented is another issue.”
The two sides agreed to form a commission to implement the pact headed by the intelligence chiefs and foreign affairs ministers of each country, according to the agreement.
The border dispute has hit both countries’ economies and separated families and businesspeople who regularly cross the border.
Rwanda relies for much of its imports on a trade route through Uganda to Kenya’s Indian Ocean port of Mombasa. Its tea, a key cash crop, is exported from Mombasa.
Uganda’s exports to Rwanda were worth $182 million in 2017, according to the World Bank.
Kagame said: “I deeply thank the leaders of Angola and (Congo) for their attitude and brotherly commitment to helping us find solutions between Uganda and Rwanda,” his office tweeted.
The signing in Luanda was witnessed by the presidents of Angola, Congo and its neighbor, Republic of Congo.
In March, Rwanda publicly accused Uganda of abducting Rwandans and supporting rebels seeking to overthrow its government.
Museveni admitted he met, but insists he does not support, the anti-Kagame rebels. His services have accused Rwandans of Uganda of spying and some of them have been arrested or deported.
In May, Ugandan police also accused Rwandan soldiers of entering their territory and killing two men, which Kigali denied.
In the absence of a solution, the tensions between the two strong men risked dragging their neighbors into conflict and threatening the integration of the region’s economies and its stability.
The Angolan leader, President Lourenço, welcomed Wednesday’s agreement, which he said illustrates “their resolve to overcome the conflict”.