Uganda has said all its exports of goods to Rwanda were being barred from entering its southwestern neighbour, which it accused of imposing a trade embargo. The two nations have this month traded barbs that have strained relations and pose risks for the wider Great Lakes Region’s commerce and security.
At the end of February, Rwanda started blocking Ugandan cargo trucks from entering at Katuna, the busiest border crossing. Rwandan authorities cited construction work and advised the trucks to use another crossing about 100 km (60 miles) away.
On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa, said all Ugandan goods were now being barred from Rwanda, which was only permitting trucks carrying goods from Kenya to enter.
“This is an …embargo on bilateral trade with Uganda,” he said in a statement. Rwandan authorities have been angered by reports of Ugandan support for rebel groups opposed to President Paul Kagame’s government, including Rwanda National Congress (RNC) and the FDLR.
Landlocked Rwanda transports a significant amount of its imports via a trade route passing through Uganda from the Kenyan seaport of Mombasa. The same trade route serves as a pipeline for Kenyan exports and helps supply merchandise to Burundi and parts of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
RNC is led by some of Rwanda’s most prominent dissidents including South Africa-based Kayumba Nyamwasa. Its founders say it is a political party. FDLR is a rebel group composed in part of former Rwandan soldiers and Hutu militias. The soldiers and militias fled into DRC after massacring around 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. –REUTERS