Intelligence Insights: Lt Gen Muhoozi, Ugandan President Museveni's Son and Advisor, Travels to Rwanda, Holds Meeting with President Kagame. Game Changer in Hostile Relations Between the Two Nations?

    Bottom Line Up Front

    • It would definitely take more than a few visits for the feuding nations to normalise their relations. However, Ambassador Ayebare's visit to Kigali, and more significantly, Gen Muhoozi's could be a step in right direction.
    • President Kagame aaccepting General Muhoozi's request to release a Ugandan soldier, Private Ronald Arinda, who according to the General "strayed into Rwandan territory on personal business without permission," could signify the former's willingness to make some concessions.
    * It is obvious that Kampala is more desperate for the normalisation of the relations with Kigali. While good relations would be beneficial to both countries, it would be understandable if some in Rwanda would be suspicious of the abrupt change of hearts in Kampala. * With both Kagame and Museveni being former intelligence officers, trust could be unsurprisingly in short supply. However, the ball is in the latter's court: he made the first move, and the burden of proof - that the ongoing efforts on his side are genuine - rests entirely on him. * The next couple of weeks, or even months, would be crucial, particularly on what next move is Kampala going to make. Would Museveni himself be the next to land in Kigali for talks with his Rwandan counterpart, and former colleague, Kagame? Possibly, and that would probably a step closer to ending hostilities between the two East African nations.

    What happened?

    Leutenant General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the Commander of Land Forces in the UPDF, and son of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, made a surprise visit to Rwandan capital Kigali, where he met President Paul Kagame.

    As per Nile Post

    Gen Muhoozi who arrived in Kigali at 11:30am on Saturday morning was received by Col Willy Rwagasana, the head of the Rwandan Republican Guard, Col Ronald Rwivanga, the Rwandan Ministry of Defence spokesperson and Anne Katusiime, the Charge d’affairs at the Ugandan High Commission in Kigali at Kigali International Airport.
    He was later ushered into Radisson Blu Hotel before he was later welcomed to Kacyiru where he met President Kagame for talks.
    According to the office of presidency in Rwanda, the two had a tête-à-tête meeting.
    After the meeting, both principals headed out for lunch together where they had a sumptuous meal.

    Any reaction(s)?

    Gen Muhoozi described his meeting with President Kagame as cordial, and was confident the two East African nations would be able to restore their relations.

    Background to the meeting:

    As reported by Rwanda's daily, The New Times, Gen Muhoozi’s visit followed that of Ambassador Adonia Ayebare who was in Kigali, last week, to transmit a special message from President Museveni of Uganda.

    "Ayebare, who is the Ugandan Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, also doubles as President Museveni's Special Envoy to Rwanda," wrote the English paper.

    However, prior to Ambassador Ayebare's visit, Gen Muhoozi infamous tweet about "his uncle Paul Kagame" signaled change, at least in tone, in Uganda's relations with Rwanda.

    Noteworhty, while Ambassador Ayebare's visit was met with a bit of cynicism, as evidenced by this tweet from the Rwandan government spokesperson Yolande Makolo

    Gen Muhoozi's had so far not drawn any hint of scepticism.

    However,  some "Twitter's body language expert," saw it otherwise

    How did bad terms emerge between the two neighbouring nations with shared history?

    Nile Post explains

    The relations between the two neighbouring countries characterised by counter accusations have been at their lowest for close to six years.
    What started as a cold war become pronounced in 2019 with  Rwanda closing its border with Uganda  and stopping its citizens from crossing to Uganda.
    Rwanda accuses Uganda of being linked to hostile groups, including the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) — an armed rebel group operating in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and the Rwanda National Congress (RNC), which is a Rwandan Opposition group – all allegedly fighting Rwanda.
    The Ugandan government has dismissed the allegation as not true.
    On the other side, Uganda accuses Rwanda of infiltrating its  security agencies, with authorities saying some Rwandan security officials had direct and indirect contact with key strategic security personnel in Uganda who have sent information outside of official channels to Rwanda, a claim the Kigali establishment denies.
    The sour relations saw officials from the Kigali establishment describe President Museveni as a bully.
    However, speaking to French TV, France 24 in an exclusive prerecorded interview, Museveni dismissed the claims as unfounded.

    The New Times sums up

    Rwanda has for long protested Uganda’s support towards the elements plotting to destabilise the former.
    Another complaint tabled by Rwanda is the continued harassment of Rwandans in Uganda by security operatives where thousands have been illegally detained and dumped at the border without due process.
    The impact of the dispute has not only affected relations of the citizens on both sides but undermined cross bilateral trade which had hit the record level of $200m.

    Kagame's mastery of statesmanship

    Rwanda has recently been successful in improving relations with its neighbours. Tanzania's new President Samia Suluhu Hassan seems to continue good terms which Kagame had with deceased John Magufuli, who reversed turbulent years of Kigali-Dodoma relations under ex-President Jakaya Kikwete.

    Furthermore, Kagame's statesmanship has recently seen bilateral relations with Burundi and DR Congo improve significantly.

    President Kagame (R) with his DR Congo counterpart Felix Tshisekedi
    President Kagame (R) with Burundian President Evariste Ndayishimiye

    Would Uganda be next? Only time will tell.

    Evarist Chahali

    Evarist Chahali

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