Rwanda's Kagame reboots frozen relations with Uganda, says the difficulties the two countries suffered were temporary.
Rwanda president Paul Kagame yesterday ended his two-day visit to the Uganda.
At the weekend, the Rwandan leader graced a dinner in honour of the commander of Land Forces, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, to mark his 48th birthday.
The dinner, which was hosted by President Museveni and First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Ms Janet Museveni, took place at State House, Entebbe on Sunday.
Earlier, the two heads of State discussed regional security and stability in a meeting that was also attended by the Security Minister Jim Muhwezi, Ms Museveni and Gen Muhoozi.
At the dinner reception, it was fanfare and celebrations with performances from traditional performers from Rwanda and Uganda.
President Museveni welcomed his Rwandan counterpart and gave a brief history of their relationship since the times of National Resistance Army (NRA).
“We are very happy that you came. Thank you for responding positively to Muhoozi’s invitation and you came. President Kagame is an old friend since way back in 1979. Kagame was among the group with whom I attacked Kabamba. When you hear about the 27 guns we started with, there was Fred Rwigyema, Paul Kagame and others. That time Muhoozi was only five years old,” President Museveni said.
Mr Museveni revealed that Muhoozi’s birth was a gift to the freedom fighter during their early days of the struggle.
“I want to congratulate you on your 48 years. Thank you friends of Muhoozi for organising all these events. Muhoozi was a gift for us in our young days of the struggle because on April 24, 1974 is when he was born,” Mr Museveni said.
President Museveni saluted the First Lady for looking after their children who have turned out to be responsible citizens since the time they were in exile.
He added that he advised Muhoozi to join the army immediately after university so that he can develop his character.
“Many countries in Africa have got security problems because of the structure of their armies. People like Muhoozi joined the army not because of a job but because of his passion. That’s why Muhoozi has made some contribution to the building of the UPDF,” the President said.
Mr Museveni said Uganda had become a failed state, but it was restored by the NRA/NRM government through the four principles of patriotism, pan-Africanism, social economic transformation and democracy.
“Ugandans saw something new in the NRM but would have achieved more if we had more committed cadres with passion about development of their country. Finally, there is something positive about his tweets, because he tweets about his passion, on this and that. But the problem is that you should not externalise your passion. Work on the issues of the tweets and the surroundings of the tweets,” he said.
Speaking to a cheering audience, President Kagame congratulated Gen Muhoozi for clocking 48 years and commended him for all his achievements.
“Forty-eight years means he has been here for some time but also means he is still very young. The question is how has he lived his time and how he intends to use his remaining time. There is no doubt, that many more years that are ahead, he will use them even better. I want also to say to Gen Muhoozi that there [are] a lot of expectations that you continue that path you have taken. Thank you for inviting me to be here for your birthday,” Mr Kagame said.
“I had not been coming to Uganda and the expectation I talked about earlier is based on the history we share together. There have been difficulties between our two countries, but I was convinced that these were going to be temporary. The ties that bind us together are strong and big,” he said.
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Mr Kagame said when he received Gen Muhoozi in Rwanda recently, he knew that the President of Uganda was behind his visit and the message.
“When we talked, the conversation was for peace for our country. I am convinced that great generals are not only those who fight and win battles but also those who fight and win peace,” he said.
On a lighter note, the Rwandan leader offered to edit Muhoozi’s Twitter account.
Ms Museveni thanked God for his provision and protection of their family. “I want to thank God because he has been great to us as a family. In June this year, I will be 74 years, and today my first-born son is 48. We are both here alive with my husband to witness. There is a reason to thank God,” she said.
The First Lady described Gen Muhoozi as a God-fearing person, honest and humble.
Gen Muhoozi thanked God for life and commended his parents for raising him.
“I want to thank God for letting me live up to 48 years and taking me through all he has taken me through. I want to thank my parents, President Museveni and Maama Janet for raising us the way they raised us and educating us and mentoring us. All the good fruits are because of them. They did this under difficult circumstances,” Gen Muhoozi said.
Gen Muhoozi also saluted President Kagame for gracing the function.
“I want to thank in a very special way Paul Kagame for honouring my invitation to come and grace this occasion. We know it is the beginning of many more good things to come. President Kagame is a very open and honest man. He is honest and straight forward,” he said.
Gen Muhoozi added that an honest interaction with Mr Kagame is what has helped Uganda and Rwanda negotiate a path back to friendship.
The joint chief of staff for UPDF, Maj Gen Leopold Kyanda, who spoke on behalf of friends of Muhoozi, described him as a diligent listener, humble, respectful and a Pan-Africanist.
Present at the function were Vice President Jessica Alupo, Speaker of Parliament Anita Among, Prime Minister Robinah Nabbanja, the NRM National Vice chairperson, Alhaj Moses Kigogo, the Kyabazinga of Busoga, William Wilberforce Gabula Nadiope, NRM Secretary General Richard Todwong, Service Chiefs, Minister and Members of Parliament, among others.