Uganda, Rwanda sign extradition treaty to improve relations

Monday, February 24th, 2020 11:21 |
Ugandan foreign minister Sam Kutesa (front L) and Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta sign an extradition treaty during the framework of the 4th quadripartite summit in Gatuna, northern Rwanda, Feb. 21, 2020. (Xinhua)

 Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame on Friday signed an extradition treaty to ease tension as a common border between the two neighboring countries remains closed for over a year.

Museveni and Kagame signed the treaty at the framework of the 4th quadripartite summit held at the Gatuna-Katuna border crossing between the two countries.

The treaty, according to the communique issued at the end of the meeting has a legal framework to handle alleged subversive activities practiced by nationals in the territory of the other party.

The meeting was also attended by Joao Lourenco, Angolan president and his Democratic Republic of Congo counter Felix Tshisekedi as facilitators.

The summit recommended that Uganda should within a month; verify the allegations of Rwanda about action from its territory by forces hostile to the Rwandan government.

"If these allegations are proved, the Ugandan government will take all measures to stop it and prevent it from happening again," said the communique.

"This action must be verified and confirmed by the Ad-Hoc Ministerial commission for the implementation of the memorandum of understanding of Luanda."

The communique said once the action taken has been reported to the heads of state, the facilitators will convene within 15 days, to reopen the borders and subsequent normalization of the relations between the two countries.

Rwanda closed its border in February last year accusing Uganda of incarcerating its citizens. Uganda denied the allegations and instead accused Rwanda of infiltrating its security circles. Uganda also alleged that Rwanda had incarcerated its citizens too.

The border closure, according to experts affected trade and movement of people between the two countries. Rwanda refused its citizens from travelling to Uganda through the common border post of Gatuna-Katuna, warning them that Ugandan security agencies would arrest them.

About seven months after the border closure, Museveni and Kagame met in the Angolan capital Luanda in efforts to ease the tension.

The two leaders signed an agreement dubbed the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding, witnessed by Tshisekedi and Lourenco.

An adhoc committee composing of ministers of foreign affairs, security officers from both countries was set up. The committee has been meeting several times and resulted into Uganda releasing some of the Rwandan nationals who it alleges had violated Ugandan laws. The Rwandans some of whom were facing a Ugandan military court were accused of among other things espionage.

On Tuesday Uganda, in the presence of officials from the Rwandan embassy here deported 13 Rwandan nationals in a bid to further ease the tension.

Sam Kutesa, Uganda's foreign minister referred the move as a further gesture of goodwill by the Ugandan government. Earlier, Uganda on Jan. 8 had also deported 9 Rwandan nationals who were accused of among others illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

Kutesa said the withdrawal of the charges and eventual deportation does not suggest that the accused are innocent of the charges for which they were being tried.

"It is simply an option that government of Uganda has chosen in order to facilitate normalization of relations in the context of the Luanda process," Kutesa said on Feb. 18, noting that Uganda expects Rwanda to reciprocate the goodwill gesture by releasing Uganda under incarceration in Rwanda. (Xinhua)

More on News