Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni is set to meet his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame on Friday at the central African countries’ shared border in a bid to resolve a continuing dispute between the two leaders.
For years, the two leaders were by each other’s side and supported one another to climb the ladder of power in their respective countries.
In 1986, Kagame was part of the rebel fighters led by Ugandan President Museveni that took power in Kampala.
Almost a decade later, Museveni returned the favour by arming and supporting Rwandan rebels led by young Kagame to seize power in Kigali.
The two longtime allies even teamed up again in 1996 to bring down the flamboyant Mobutu Sese Seko, one of the continent’s longest-serving leaders and installed Laurent Kabila as president in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
But more recently, relations between the two leaders has been, at best, frosty.
Kagame, 62, accuses his former ally of backing rebel groups and dissidents who want to bring down the government in Kigali.
Speaking at a news conference last March, then-Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs Richard Sezibera accused Kampala of supporting the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). Rwanda considers both groups to be “terrorist organisations”.
“Groups which have carried out acts of terrorism inside Rwanda, they carried out grenade attack in Kigali, they have carried out attacks in the north of our country, they have carried out attacks in the south of our country, the leaders of those groups carrying out the activities [are] in Uganda seemingly freely with the support of some officials of the government of Uganda,” Sezibera said.
A month later during a speech to mark 25th anniversary of Rwanda’s genocide, a visibly angry Kagame warned Uganda against interfering in his country’s internal affairs.
“Those who think we have not seen enough of a mess, and want to mess with us, whether from here or from outside, I want to say: We will mess up with them big time,” said Kagame, who has accused Uganda of sponsoring attacks in his country.
“We are going to raise the cost on the part of anybody who wants to destabilise our security,” Kagame said in November.