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Are Rwanda-Uganda relations tumbling again?

BY Tom Mugisha, tom.mugisha@alleastafrica.com

KAMPALA – There is a growing but quiet uneasiness between Uganda and Rwanda over reports of Rwandan dissidents fleeing to Uganda.

Although both countries have denied any sour relations, a leaked dossier quotes Rwandan Defence Minister Gen James Kabareebe telling business community in Kigali that Uganda was offering space to Rwandan dissidents.

“Rwanda is concerned by Uganda’s continued offering of its space to ‘Rwandan enemies’, whether deliberately or inadvertently, to conduct their operations.”

The East African Newspaper on Monday quoted a Rwandan government official who didn’t want to be named, saying the Kigali regime was concerned about their relations with Uganda.

“Among other things, Rwandan authorities were worried by the decisions Uganda has taken, which are hostile to Rwanda,” the East African newspaper quoted the official, “Among them is the decision to allow exiled Rwandan tycoon Tribert Rujugiro to operate in Uganda and work closely with government officials,”

The relations between Rwanda and Uganda had normalized after the armies of the two countries fought in DR Congo in 2000. The two countries again almost went war in 2001 but they opted to talk the tension was resolved.

Last week, after presenting her credentials to President Paul Kagame last week, Uganda’s High Commissioner to Rwanda Oliver Wonekha, when asked about the reports of bilateral issues between the two countries, said she was not aware of any concerns.

“As far as I know, our relations are good. But you know with a relationship, you must nurture it, you must take care of any gaps that exist. I will make sure that I look at those gaps and attend to them,” she said.

Among the dessidents Rwanda accuses Uganda of habouring is the exiled Rwandan businessman Tribert Rujugiro who operates Tobacco business in Uganda.

Last week there was another leaded memorandum of understanding that showed there was a partnership between President Yoweri Museveni’s younger brother Gen Salim Sale and Mr Rujigiro, who Rwanda accuses of bankrolling dissidents fighting the government.

The MoU was signed by Gen Saleh and M/S Leaf Tobacco and Commodities Ltd, owned by Mr Rujugiro on June 13, giving the general a 15 per cent stake in the company. In return, Gen Saleh grants “security” to the business.

The MoU came a few months after Mr Rujugiro announced that he would be constructing a $20 million tobacco processing factory in northern Uganda.

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