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Rwandan press awash with “complicated” Kigali-Kampala relations

The strained relationship between Kigali and Kampala is stealing the headlines of many newspapers in Rwanda through the course of this week.Local media suggest that although this relationship may look complicated from the outside, but inside there is surprisingly no serious friction that should send citizens into panic mode on both sides of the border.

The daily “Taarifa” reported that it is squarely hinged on the bullish attitude exhibited by the ruling clique of Kampala and the refusal by Kigali to take it in that occasionally leads to what we see on the outside as complicated.

According to the newspaper, this attitude  is old, stemming from late 1990s as Uganda attempted to play the ‘godfather’ to Rwanda yet this was diplomatically disrespectful, arrogant and provocative.

For its part, the English daily ‘The New Times’ noted in an opinion article that in neighbouring Uganda, the mainstream media has thrown off the cloak of objectivity and become increasingly biased and prejudiced, particularly when reporting on Rwanda.

Uganda and President Yoweri Museveni are the victims of nefarious schemes of their southern neighbours, the newspaper said.

The media in Uganda, even those that used to claim to be fiercely independent and objective, has been flogging hard, to deafening levels the border question, but strangely silent on these other issues as if they do not exist.

The newspaper recalls an article published by the Ugandan government-owned New Vision newspaper last week with the headline: Rwanda delays border talks.

But, as it usually turns out, the truth or otherwise of many of these things are determined by circumstances and the motives of those who define and spread them, the newspaper said.

Reflecting on the current diplomatic row between Kampala and Kigali, ‘Taarifa’ reports that, Rwanda has played it cool and avoided getting dragged into this game and confined to proper diplomatic engagements with Uganda.

The newspaper cites an example of Gen. Frank Mugambage who is currently serving as Rwanda’s High Commissioner to Uganda describing him as a very excellent choice that Kampala never complains about.

Gen. Mugambage is invited to nearly all important national events, meaning he is a very welcomed diplomat in Uganda.

The General is a man schooled in Uganda, can speak some of the Ugandan languages and easily and freely rubs shoulder with the Ugandan elite, the newspaper said.

In 2017 on the contrary, Uganda appointed Oliver Wonekha as High Commissioner to Rwanda stationed and resident in the capital Kigali. 

She was fresh from a similar posting in the United States since 2013.

Unlike her predecessor, Wonekha may be present at some events in Rwanda, but she was not as visible and media friendly as her predecessor Richard Kabonero.

In the views of  “Taarifa” Kigali would have wished that Uganda posts to Rwanda an equivalent of Gen. Mugambage, contextually speaking, a diplomat that would easily permeate the leadership in Kigali, at least one whose foreign policy strategists would relate beyond formalities.

Published on 28.04.2020

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