Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame is in Uganda. He arrived at Entebbe International Airport at 2pm where he was received by among others Security Minister Maj Gen Jim Muhwezi, H.E. Col Joseph Rutabana the High Commissioner of Rwanda in Uganda and Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba.
But, why is he in the country?
A week ago, Lt Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the UPDF Commander Land Forces and President Museveni’s Advisor on Special Operations announced that Kagame will come to Uganda attend his birthday anniversary.
“I am very happy to announce that my uncle, the very great Commander, President and Leader of Rwanda will be attending my birthday celebration. Ruhanga asiimwe! Inkotanyi cyane indeed!!”
Born on 24 April, 1974, Muhoozi has today clocked 48 years of age. As part of the anniversary, celebrations were held in Bushenyi Western Uganda on Friday, then birthday run in Kampala and a mega event at Lugogo Cricket Oval attended by thousands of youth, leaders and selected security heads.
The anticipation was that Kagame would attend the Lugogo event, but he was a no show. This prompted several Ugandans to question whether actually Kagame had confirmed to Muhoozi that he was attend the birthday celebrations.
Patrick Kanyomozi, a journalist and one of the social media users believed to support opposition leader, Robert Kyagulanyi ssentamu wrote: “There is no way President Kagame was going to be part of that circus.”
While addressing those who turned up for the Lugogo event, Gen Muhoozi said although he prefers privacy, he decided to publicly celebrate his birthday partly because the relations between Uganda and Rwanda had normalized.
“We were experiencing bad relations with one of our closest and brotherly neighbours – Rwanda. You remember the border was closed for three years – no trade, no money. People couldn’t visit families and friends across the border. We thank God who has solved that problem,” Gen Kainerugaba who was very instrumental in normalizing the relations said.
“Our relations are good and are going to even get better. We thank God for these gifts. That’s why I think we should celebrate together.”
He added that “the VIPs are flying-in tomorrow (today)” probably for other related functions. Plus News later learned that President Paul Kagame was one of the said VIPs and that he was be part of the birthday dinner at State House, Entebbe.
Indeed, President Kagame arrived in Uganda on Sunday, for the first time in four years. He was last in the country on March 25, 2018 for a one day visit at President Yoweri Museveni’s invite.
This was re-echoed by the office of the President of Rwanda which indicated that: “President Kagame has arrived in Uganda where he will be attending the celebrations for Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba’ 48th birthday later this evening.”
However, Lindah Wamboka Nabusaayi, President Yoweri Museveni’s Senior Press Secretary, said in a tweet on Sunday that Kagame was in Uganda “for a private visit on invitation of President Museveni.”
Uganda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also repeated the same.
Government newspaper, New Vision reported on Sunday that was in the country for a meeting with host President Yoweri Museveni.
So, did President Yoweri Museveni invite his counterpart for a birthday dinner or for talks or both? Does it mean that President Kagame is not in Uganda solely for birthday celebrations but also for other reasons as well?