Rwanda has opened the main Gatuna crossing post after three years, as a step towards repairing ties that had been soured by various rival accusations of espionage, abductions and meddling.
Rwanda has reopened its land border with Uganda after a three-year closure, signalling a thaw in relations between the two East African neighbours.
The main Gatuna crossing post, known as Katuna in Uganda, officially reopened at midnight, and traffic was expected to gather pace throughout Monday.
Rwanda announced its decision to reopen the border last week as a step towards repairing ties that had been soured by various rival accusations of espionage, abductions and meddling.
It followed a visit to Kigali by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's powerful son Muhoozi Kainerugaba, where he met Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
The frontier had been closed in February 2019 as political tensions between Kigali and Kampala spiralled, leading to the near collapse of two-way trade.
The Government of Uganda welcomes the statement issued by the @RwandaMFA of the Republic of Rwanda through their official handle, about the reopening of the Katuna/Gatuna border post. pic.twitter.com/In5JmlPFx9— Government of Uganda (@GovUganda) January 28, 2022
Breaking the ice
Museveni and Kagame were close allies in the 1980s and 1990s during struggles for power in their respective countries, but relations turned deeply hostile.
Rwanda shut the frontier after accusing Uganda of abducting its citizens and supporting rebels seeking to topple Kagame.
Uganda in turn accused Rwanda of spying as well as killing two men during an incursion into Ugandan territory in 2019 — a claim Kigali denied.
Both governments said last week they hoped the border reopening could contribute to the normalisation of ties.
Before the closure, Ugandan exports to Rwanda — predominantly cement and food — totalled more than $211 million in 2018, according to World Bank figures, while Rwanda exported $13 million worth of goods to Uganda.
Trade plummeted in 2019, with the situation further exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis.
VIDEO:— Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) (@rbarwanda) January 31, 2022
At 5:10 a.m, the first truck crossed the Gatuna border from Rwanda to Uganda.
The truck, driven by a Ugandan named Fabrison Ndugwe, arrived at Gatuna at 3:30 a.m from Kamanyora in the DRC. After border inspections, it was allowed to proceed to Uganda. #RBANews pic.twitter.com/LHtlJjAPyp