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Citizens, Leaders Celebrate Rwanda Border Re-opening Announcement

Jackson Muganiizi, a resident of the Uganda-Rwanda border of Kibanda parish in Kamwezi sub county , Rukiga district says that however much news about re-opening is highly welcome, but Rwandan government should consider compensating families of Ugandans whose relatives were shot dead by its security forces.
Current Status of Katuna border (Photo Credit Samuel Amanya)

Audio 8



The Rwanda government’s announcement to reopen its border with Uganda, three years after its closure has sparked celebrations among residents in Kigezi region.

Rwanda announced morning that the border will be reopened on January 31, according to a statement that has been Tweeted by Rwanda Broadcasting Agency -RBA and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.   

The statement indicates that the promise to reopen follows the visit by Lieutenant General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, Uganda’s Senior Presidential Adviser on Special Operations and Commander Land Forces to Kigali where they held cordial and in-depth discussions about how to improve bilateral relations between the two countries. 

The statement also indicates that health authorities between the two countries will work together to put necessary measures to facilitate movement in the context of COVID19.  

The announcement has left residents who live along the border in the districts of Rukiga, Kabale, and Kisoro feeling and acting extremely blissful. Franko Korinako, the Katuna Traders' Association chairperson, and Edward Tukamuhabwa, Katuna Border Money Changers Association Chairperson say that they are very happy with the announcement because the closure had suffocated their income.

Tukamuhabwa and Korinako say that the impasse had led Ugandans who had crop gardens in Rwanda to fear to cross to harvest. They also say that the closure had led traders to a financial dilemma because Rwandans who had bought goods on credit were locked before paying.  They want Rwanda and the Ugandan government to make public an assurance that the impasse will not happen again. 

//Cue in: “nitushemererwa munonga habwokuba…//

Cue out:…byagaruka mubuteeka.”//

Patience Tusiime, a trader at the Katuna border who was found along Katuna-Kabale road celebrating, thanked God for hearing their prayers to enable Rwanda to relax the restrictions. 

Tusiime says that most of the traders are even stuck without capital. She however says that despite the happiness, she remains with doubt about the announcement until Monday when she will witness its official re-opening. 

//Cue in: “manya na hati… //

Cue out:…obusya mbweenu.”//

Elvis Byoonanebye Nzeirwe, Katuna town council LC3 Chairman says the announcement has come at a time when it was needed most due to poverty locals at the border are going through. Byoonanebye says his grains store was booming due to many customers from Rwanda. He says that he was however forced to shut it down after he failed to get customers resulting from the border closure. 

//Cue in: “to me this…//

Cue out: …its peak.”// 

Rukiga

//Cue in: “ebeire etwiire ekwatirire….//

Cue out: …ha border.”//   

Jeninah Busingye, Chairperson Katuna border village LC1 Chairperson says that the border impasse led some of the locals to sell their lands to migrate from the area fearing the outbreak of war between the two countries.  She now says that the border reopening will bring back hopes of peace. She also wants Rwanda to relax on tough laws and bad handling against Ugandans whenever they cross.

//Cue in: “buri muntu atwiire…//

Cue out:…ori Uganda.”// 

Abel Bizimana, Kisoro District LC5 Chairman, and Erasmus Sanyu, Chanika town Council LC3 Chairman say that news about border re-opening is welcome because it is an indication that the two countries have started to re-unite in terms of peace. 

They want Rwanda to go ahead and send comforting messages to families of Ugandans who were shot by Rwandan security operatives during the closure. 

//Cue in: “we are so…//

Cue out:…a way.”//  

Jackson Muganiizi, a resident of the Uganda-Rwanda border of Kibanda parish in Kamwezi sub county , Rukiga district says that however much news about re-opening is highly welcome, but Rwandan government should consider compensating families of Ugandans whose relatives were shot dead by its security forces.

Muganiizi argues that some of the victims were shot dead by Rwanda security personnel on suspicion of smuggling yet it was a lie. He says that in case compensation is not done, families of the deceased victims will never again love the Rwandan government.

//Cue in: “it is Rwanda…//

Cue out: …their relatives.”//

Rukiga

//Cue in: “ekyabeire ekyobusaasi ihanga…//

Cue out:…omuri Rwanda.”//  

The announcement of the reopening of the border comes less than three days after  Uganda’s head of Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence -CMI, Maj Gen Abel Kandiho who had been accused of human rights abuses was removed and replaced with Maj Gen James Birungi. 

Kandiho was sent to monitor the peace process in South Sudan on behalf of the guarantors specifically the assembling, screening, demobilization, and integration of the fighting forces.     

The Uganda-Rwanda borders were closed on February 27, 2019. At the time, Rwandan President, Paul Kagame accused Ugandan authorities of spying on Rwanda, abducting Rwandan citizens and locking them up in non-designated areas, as well as hosting and facilitating dissidents who have declared war on the Kigali administration.   

Rwanda then issued a travel advisory to its nationals against traveling to Uganda, saying their safety was not guaranteed. AT least five Ugandans were shot dead by Rwanda personnel operatives on accusations of carrying out smuggling. 

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