Uganda, Rwanda Leaders Pledge Prisoner Release to Ease Dispute


(Bloomberg) --

Ugandan and Rwandan leaders pledged a mutual release of prisoners as a step in easing a diplomatic dispute that hit a low with the closing of their busiest border last year.

President Yoweri Museveni and his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame, committed to refrain from actions that could be perceived as “supporting, financing and infiltration of destabilizing forces in their neighbor’s territory,” according to a statement that followed a meeting on Sunday. The summit was the third, convened by Angolan President Joao Lourenco in Luanda and attended by Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi.

Africa’s Great Lakes countries including Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo are at risk of worsening violence, according to the International Crisis Group. The leaders have blamed each other for backing proxy rebels against one another’s country, according to a report by the Brussels-based group.

There have been signs of deepening hostility between Kagame and Museveni, who fought together to bring an end to military dictatorship in Uganda in the 1980s and to halt the Rwandan genocide. When Museveni replaced his police chief in 2018, some analysts suggested it was partly to stop Rwandan spies from infiltrating his security ranks to eliminate rebels feared to be recruiting from refugee camps in Uganda.

Rwanda has accused Uganda of holding at least 200 of its nationals without consular access and legal representation. Kagame’s administration last February unilaterally closed a border with Uganda and discouraged its citizens from traveling to its northern neighbor or risk being arrested. The border was opened although crossings remain restricted.

Museveni and Kagame have scheduled their next meeting on the matter for Feb. 21 at the Gatuna-Katuna border, according to the statement.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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