CONTENT PREVIEW
Country Risk

Deteriorating relations between Rwandan and Ugandan governments likely to delay key EAC projects; interstate war unlikely

08 November 2017

Key Points

  • The Rwandan and Ugandan governments are both attempting to frustrate each other’s development strategies.
  • Projects requiring EAC-wide or bilateral agreement will probably face protracted delays, but outright cancellation is unlikely.
  • Both governments have augmented their local security and intelligence networks, directed against the other’s influence, but the risk of fighting between their forces remains very low.

Event

On 27 October, officers of Uganda’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) arrested five senior police officers and four civilians, including Rwandan and Congolese nationals, amid accusations of working on behalf of Rwandan security agencies concerned about dissident group activities in neighbouring Uganda.(L-R) Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, Rwanda's president Paul Kagame, and First Lady Janet Kagame watch a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of Rwanda's genocide in Kigali on 7 April 2014. (Simon Maina/AFP/Getty Images)(L-R) Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, Rwanda's president Paul Kagame, and First Lady Janet Kagame watch a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of Rwanda's genocide in Kigali on 7 April 2014. (Simon Maina/AFP/Getty Images)

IHS Markit sources indicate that the primary origins deteriorating bilateral relations are:

  • Uganda’s hosting of Rwandan dissidents, such as businessman Philbert Rujugiro, and individuals associated with President Paul Kagame’s former Army Chief of Staff Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa and the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) opposition group
  • Rwanda’s refusal of President Yoweri Museveni’s request that Rwanda enter into dialogue with these dissidents, many of whom served with Museveni’s forces during the civil war
  • Rwanda’s failure to support President Museveni’s aspirations to secure himself a more senior leadership role in the East African Community (EAC), a regional trade block, which also includes Burundi, Kenya, South Sudan, and Tanzania.

Security and counter-intelligence operations

The increasingly strained ties have already eroded established ties of bilateral co-operation on security and intelligence matters. Notable triggers include the appointments of former General Henry Tumukunde as Uganda's Minister of Security (2016) and Colonel Abel Kanduho as CMI commander (2017). Rwanda’s government views both as hostile to their influence in Uganda, and suspects the former of links with Rwandan dissidents. More recently, on 8 October, Tumukunde announced the re-activation of Uganda’s Local Defence Units (LDU), which will notably operate under his command rather than that of Inspector General Kayihura.

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