Kampala- Angolan President João Lourenço on Friday expressed optimism that the Katuna border conflict between Uganda and Rwanda could “have better days” and said his country will attempt all measures to ensure cordial relations and stability between the two neigbouring countries.
“The agenda is short: security at the border between the three countries and relations between Rwanda and Uganda,” President Lourenço was quoted by Portuguese, Lusa News Agency.
There have been broad security concerns along the border between Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo.
But there has also been a specific bilateral conflict between Uganda and Rwanda that resulted in the latter closing its borders with Uganda at Katuna and Chanika in February.
Speaking at the opening of the quadripartite summit at the presidential palace, High City Palace, in the Angolan capital Luanda on Friday, President Lourenço said: “We hope to solve all the problems of the Great Lakes, but many problems may have better days.”
The summit was attended by President Museveni, his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame whose governments have been at loggerheads since early last year, and DR Congo’s Félix Tshisekedi.
The meeting kicked off with an open session, before the leaders went into closed doors for about three hours. A joint communiqué signed by Angolan Foreign Affairs minister Manuel Augusto indicated that the four presidents agreed to “prioritise the resolution of any dispute between their respective countries by peaceful means through conventional channels and in the Spirit of African brotherhood and solidarity.”
By press time, it was not yet clear what resolution or proposal was put forward to solve the Kampala-Kigali impasse but the communiqué highlighted that Angola was an ideal candidate to mediate between the two governments.
Mr Augusto said the summit took place in a “climate of fraternity and perfect understanding.”
Diplomatic sources told Daily Monitor that the summit was initially a DR Congo-Angola-Rwanda affair “to discuss issues of common interest”, but the plans to invite President Museveni were mooted in May following a meeting of the three presidents in the Congolese capital Kinshasa convened by President Tshisekedi.
Sources said Kigali views “Angola “as a neutral party.”
Uganda, Rwanda and Angola are members of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR), a 12-member body of countries of the Great Lakes.
Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa and Uganda’s deputy ambassador to DR Congo and Angola Julius Chihandae also attended the Luanda meeting on Friday.
The icy relations between Kampala and Kigali hit significant hostility levels in February when Rwanda closed its borders with Uganda at Katuna and Chanika in Kabale and Kisoro districts, respectively.
On June 10, Kigali temporarily opened its Gatuna border for two weeks and closed it again.
Kigali accuses Kampala of supporting dissidents plotting to destabilise Rwanda, which claims Uganda has flatly denied.