Religious leaders call for dialogue to end Rwanda and Uganda stand-off

Religious leaders from East Africa are calling for dialogue between Rwanda and Uganda to solve the current tensions between the two neighbouring countries.

Addressing the press on Thursday morning,  the Chairman of Inter Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) council of presidents, Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubaje said that the two sister countries ought to sit on a round table and find a lasting solution to the underlying misunderstandings between the two countries.

Mubaje was speaking on behalf of IRCU, the East African Community Inter-Religious Council (EAC-IRC) and the African Council of Religious Leaders (ACRL).

“We are certain that a number of channels still exist to resolve this conflict; these include among others, preventive diplomacy spearheaded by the two ministries of foreign Affairs, the East African Conflict Management Act 2012, the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region  (ICGLR) and the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU),” said Mubaje.

The religious leaders say that the closure of the Uganda – Rwanda borders has wider negative impacts on trade, movement of people, capital and services to and from the neighboring countries including Kenya, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan among others.

Mubaje said that the action contradicts with the spirit behind the formation of the East African Community (EAC) which is built on widening and deepening co-operation among the partner states and other regional economic communities in among others, political, economic and social fields for their mutual benefit.

“Already traders are losing large volumes of their perishable goods as the cargo trucks remain stranded at the borders, the education fortunes of the innocent Rwandan school children commuting daily from Rwanda to Uganda are in jeopardy as they are barred from crossing the border. On a social  and cultural scale, the border closure negatively affects the citizens wishing to visit their friends and relatives across the border,” said Mubaje

The borders have been closed for nearly two weeks now. Uganda’s Trade and Industry minister Amelia Kyambadde a few days ago advised Ugandan traders to change course and focus on other markets in region than watching as their goods waste away at the closed borders.