Opinion: Does the signing of MoU resolve the Rwanda-Uganda stand-off?

Many people have cheered the signing of the MoU in Angola between Rwanda and Uganda, particularly assessing which party stands to lose or gain in the deal.  But from the general perspective, the MoU sounds more diplomatic and clearly articulates all what is being done by the Government of Uganda in support of subversive groups against Rwanda.  Statistically one would estimate that 4/5 points raise Rwanda’s concerns. 

It is observed however, that after the signing of the MoU, each side has tried to shape its narrative in regards to the memorandum. For instance, the Government of Uganda shaped their reactions to the opening of the Gatuna border to exert pressure to the Government of Rwanda and to shape opinion the way they want regardless of Rwanda’s concerns, with the objective to prevent Rwanda to make a counter argument.

In that ongoing game of chess, Rwanda on its part, placed onus on the shoulders to prove its case of Rwandans detained in Uganda’s Intelligence dungeons.   Indeed it sounds logical, Rwanda can’t revise its travel advisory of its citizens travelling to Uganda when it has no guarantees of their safety and I believe that was the reason behind the travel advisory.   Some political observers   have even gone further and got tempted to believe that there was no meeting of the mind at the time of signing of the MoU.

The deal signed  in the Angola  recommended parties to: (a) respect each other’s sovereignty and of neighboring countries; (b) refrain from actions that destabilize each other’s territory thereby eliminating acts such as the financing, training and infiltration of destabilizing forces; (c) protect and respect the rights and freedoms of the nationals of the other party residing or transiting in accordance with the law of that country; (d) resume “as soon as possible” cross-border activities; (e) establish an ad hoc commission for the implementation of this MoU.

The points raised in the MoU are bold and sound but what is not clear is who will establish the commission since it should be the first to be implemented?  And who will convene the meeting of the security and Intelligence chiefs, and where to report to?  Who will draft the mandate or terms of reference of the commission as well as who will constitute the commission?  Those issues are likely to generate another debate as far as the implementation process is concerned and each party involved will have to look at its interests.  In the alternative, the agreement lacks   normative change and there are no   institutionalized formal principles and informal expectations that are intended to create a new context for the resolution of the crisis.

Moses Lukwago

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