President Yoweri Museveni has said the closure of the border by neighbouring Rwanda is a ‘hiccup’ that will not slow the region down.
The President made the statements today while delivering an opportunity lecture to 17 high ranking military officials from 11 countries including USA, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Germany, Bolivia among others at Masindi State Lodge in Masindi district.
The team led by Rear Admiral Ross Albon from UK Royal College of Defence Studies has been in the country for a one-week study tour of Uganda about ‘Uganda’s Geo Politics and Economic Development’. The UPDF Chief of Training and Recruitment Major General Jim Willis Byaruhanga guided the delegation during the course of the study.
“Even if the border is closed, trade will go on, only that it will be through smuggling. You can’t stop trade through border administration. People resort to smuggling. Others have resorted to export a lot of things to South Sudan, DR Congo, Kenya Tanzania etc,” he said.
He re-echoed that market integration of Africa and political integration for strategic security will stimulate the continents prosperity and rapid economic transformation for the continent.
President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in a group photograph with the Military Trainees from the Royal College of Defence Studies of UK headed by the Rear Admiral, Ross Albon shortly after the opportunity lecture at the State Lodge in Masindi on Wednesday 15th May 2019 during the President’s tourof Bunyoro region.
The President said the six East African Countries have agreed to work for a confederation of East Africa to strengthen cooperation.
“The modern way for prosperity is exchange of goods and services for sell, the more buyers the better. We now have African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) where you can trade with anybody. East Africa is highly compatible, similar and linked. Our fraternity has not been emphasized,” he said.
Rwanda border has remained closed since February 28. Rwanda accuses Uganda of supporting dissidents hostile to the Kigali administration. Rwandan authoriries also allege its citizens are harassed, arrested and tortured while in Uganda. However, Uganda denies the allegations.
On the issue of South Sudan and Somalia, President Museveni said the problem was opportunists exploiting the issue of identity as opposed to interests.
“Identity is multi-racial and multi-cultural and yet society is dynamic. Politics of identity is very dangerous,” he said. He was however optimistic that if countries such as these invested in student movements, it would be a good entry point to cause reversal towards new thinking.
On the issue of refugees, President Museveni said refugees don’t cause any cultural shock for the country and can be managed if development partners supported government with logistical needs.
“The problem is logistics; they need food, firewood for energy thereby destroying the environment for trees. They also upset social services because they overwhelm what we planned for. I appeal to the international community to support us with prefabricated materials for housing, energy, water etc,” he said. The President added however that when provided with an education and skills, it would help refugees who return home to start a new life with new links.
President Museveni described Africa as a continent of the future with a big potential if we get things right.