Beginning Monday, Rwanda will re-open the Gatuna border post with Uganda that was closed almost three years ago fuelled by accusations of espionage and support for each other’s dissidents.
Rwanda had repeatedly accused Uganda of supporting rebel groups planning to overthrow the government in Kigali while Kampala accused Rwanda of carrying out illegal espionage activities in Uganda.
Rwanda said the move to re-open the border followed the visit of Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba Senior Presidential Adviser on Special Operations and Commander of Land Forces of the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) on January 22.
In a statement on Twitter on Friday, Rwanda’s foreign ministry said the country would re-open the common border on January 31.
“The Government of Rwanda has taken note that there is a process to solve issues raised by Rwanda, as well as commitments made by the Government of Uganda to address remaining obstacles”.
“As it is the case for other land border posts in the country, health authorities of Rwanda and Uganda will work together to put in place necessary measures to facilitate movement in the context of COVID-19”, the statement added.
The border closure in March 2019 had severely disrupted the trade links in the region.
Rwanda said it “Remains committed to ongoing efforts to resolve pending issues between Rwanda and Uganda and believes that today’s announcement will contribute positively to the speedy normalisation of relations between the two countries”.
For its external trade, Rwanda primarily relies on a transport corridor that runs from the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa through Kenya and Uganda. The same road also funnels goods through Rwanda to Burundi and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
Rwanda and Uganda have long harboured mutual suspicions and hostilities, partly stemming from historical ties between both countries’ politics and security.