Rwanda, Uganda accuse each other of preparing for war

Kigali- Rwanda (PANA) -- Tension is building up between Rwanda andUganda with both countries trading accusations that one is preparing to launch a war against the other, military sources in Kigali reported Tuesday night.
Their relations have hit a low ebb with Ugandan government this Tuesday alleging that the Rwandan army and their allies of the Rally for the Congolese Democracy (RCD-Goma) rebels attacked and captured the north-eastern town of Kanyabayonga, in Butembo area.
The allegations issued in the Kampala-based daily, The New Vision said that the Uganda-backed RCD-Kisangani rebels previously held Kanyabayonga.
In the paper, Uganda claims that Kanyabayonga is near training grounds for the newly formed People's Redemption Army (PRA), allegedly led by Ugandan dissident officers -- Colonels Samson Mande and Anthony Kyakabale -- who fled to Rwanda.
It said that Kanyabayonga "was captured Saturday after three-day siege by the Rwandan army.
" But Rwanda has refuted the allegations saying that they are baseless and are mere fabrication.
"These allegations are not founded.
No fighting took place, and the Rwandan army keeps its well-known positions in north Kivu that were communicated to the JMC '(Joint Military Commission) in Uganda on October 12,1999," Lieutenant-Colonel Jean Bosco Kazura, Rwandan army spokesman, told PANA.
Rwanda in return accused Uganda of performing military manoeuvres in a bid to attack its positions in North Kivu, in Masisi and Rutshuru.
Sources from the UN Mission for Congo (MONUC) said that Uganda has filed a complaint to the UN and the JMC, and called the capture of Kanyabayonga, a violation of the Lusaka cease-fire agreement.
Relations between both countries started to deteriorate after a letter written by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni to the British Secretary of State for Overseas Development on 28 August asking the UK to allow Uganda to increase military expenditure because of a purported war being prepared by Rwanda against it.
The New Vision said Museveni wanted the military spending to be raised to an additional 139 million US dollars annually for the next three years from the current 113 million dollars allowed by donors.
Museveni alleged that Rwanda was training a rebel force led by the "renegade" Ugandan army officers in camps near Kigali and in North Kivu, and said that about 100,000 men were being armed to attack Uganda.
But the Rwandan government officials denied any preparations in that direction and in turn accused Uganda of preparing and mobilising the UPDF (Uganda People's Defence Force) to launch an attack on Rwanda.
"We are not at all preparing a war against Uganda.
Rwanda still faces problems inherited from the genocide and does not need to fight unnecessary wars," Rwandan foreign minister Andre Bumaya told PANA.
He said that Rwanda needs very much Uganda because it is Rwanda's outlet to the Indian Ocean for its imports and exports through the Northern Corridor.
"We need to have this corridor as much peaceful as it can be.
Any war with Uganda would definitely disrupt the traffic and the free movement of people," Bumaya added.
Analysts in the region believe that today's heightened tension is an indication that Rwanda and Uganda have not buried the hatchet of war since their armies clashed three times in Kisangani, northeastern DR Congo in 1999.
The Kisangani clashes undermined shaky ties between both erstwhile allies who had invaded Congo in 1998 in a bid to overthrown the regime of President Laurent Desire Kabila, who was accused of supporting Rwandan Hutu rebels, accused of the 1994 genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda.
But their relations plummeted with the rivalry that emerged one- year later as each backed different Congolese rebel factions.
Meanwhile, some regional analysts fear that Rwanda and Uganda may be bracing for another big fight, either in the DR Congo, or along their common border.

23 october 2001 21:35:00

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