Presidents Museveni (L) and Kagame greet officials at Kigali International Airport yesterday shortly before the former’s departure after a four-day state visit to Rwanda. The New Times / James Akena
KIGALI – Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, yesterday, held a news conference, jointly with his host, President Paul Kagame, as he concluded his four-day state visit to Rwanda.
The two leaders agreed to take the relations of the two countries to a whole new level.
On the last day of the visit dubbed ‘historic’ by either side, the two Heads of State witnessed the signing of Memoranda of Understanding by the ministers of environment, ICT and agriculture.
Kagame and Museveni also endorsed the recommendations of the 9th Joint Permanent Commission (JPC) which preceded the state visit, vowing to strengthen various areas of cooperation including defence, cross-border trade and infrastructural development.
On the significance of the visit, President Kagame said that it carries great importance for the two countries.
“For us, this visit was absolutely important because it continues to enable us to strengthen our relations, not only as the leaders of the two countries but also as people of the two countries,” Kagame noted.
“You don’t expect visits like this to take place everyday, but maybe they would take place regularly overtime but it doesn’t mean that, in between, there are no good things happening.”
Kagame said his meeting with his Ugandan counterpart was aimed at bettering the already good relations, observing that it came at the “right time” and that the visit left an air of happiness at all levels including the government and the citizens.
“The visit has gone down very well, we can only build on that for a better future of our countries and a better relationship in that future,” Kagame said.
President Museveni said that the people of Rwanda and Uganda share a lot in common and cannot be easily separated. “You cannot backbite me in Kinyarwanda,” he told the Rwandan journalists.
“If you want to backbite me in Kinyarwanda, you will not go very far, I will know what you are saying. These are the same people of the Great Lakes region. We call them the Interlacustrine Bantu,” Museveni said.
He noted that when there were problems in the country including the genocide of 1959, Rwandans ran to neighbouring countries, including Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and DR Congo, and not to European countries.
“When Idi Amin was killing us in Uganda, I ran to Tanzania, I did not go to London. So, we are the same people. On the political side, there have been chains of cooperation,” Museveni said.
“Along the way, there were some issues, some misunderstandings which we have transcended.”
Museveni observed that the journey remains long for Africa and hence “we must get moving.”
In a joint communiqué issued which was read out by Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo, the two Heads of State vowed to advance the cooperation with the aim of transforming the socio-economic lives of the citizens of both countries.
President Kagame and President Museveni also touched on the issue of the cessation clause status facing Rwandan refugees in Uganda. Kagame said that the two countries will work together on the issue.
He said among those who claim to be refugees are fugitives who ran away from justice and others who simply left Rwanda for economic reasons.
Museveni commended Rwanda for assisting Uganda by supplying electricity to the south-western district of Kisoro, noting that it is this kind of mutual cooperation that the two countries are focused on.
Shortly after the press conference, President Kagame hosted his guest and his entourage to luncheon before seeing them off at Kigali International Airport.
During the visit, President Museveni was accompanied by the First Lady and Minister of Karamoja affairs, Janet Museveni, the first daughter Natasha Karugire, six cabinet ministers and other top government officials.