Why All Eyes Are on Kagame in Uhuru's Crisis Meeting With 5 Presidents

  • President Uhuru Kenyatta greets his Rwandan Counterpart Paul Kagame at State House
    President Uhuru Kenyatta greets his Rwandan Counterpart Paul Kagame at State House.
    PSCU
  • President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday, June 20, held a high-level meeting that brought together six Heads of State from the East African Community (EAC).

    The meeting was held at State House, Nairobi as the leaders race against time to find a solution to tame the security situation that is fast getting out of hand in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

    Among those present were Rwanda's Paul Kagame, Uganda's Yoweri Museveni, Evariste Ndayishimiye (Burundi), Salva Kiir Mayardit (South Sudan) and Felix Tshisekedi (DR Congo).

    All eyes from across the region (and beyond) are, however, fixated on the Rwandan leader, if his recent relationships with neighbouring countries is anything to go by.

    Left to right: Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, his Rwandan Paul Kagame and DRC's Felix Tshisekedi.
    Left to right: Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, his Rwandan Paul Kagame and DRC's Felix Tshisekedi.
    File

    Towards the end of May, bilateral ties between Kigali and Kinshasa hit a low note, after Tshisekedi accused Kagame of fanning the ongoing war by backing some of the rebels that had been wreaking havoc in the North Kivu region of DRC, the most affected region.

    Specifically, Rwanda was accused of backing M23 rebels who have been fighting with DRC's government forces.

    Quickly, the blame game turned into a dispute that involved DRC barring RwandAir, Rwanda's flagship carrier, from operating in its airspace. Kagame, in retaliation, canceled all its flights to DRC cities of Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, and Goma while maintaining it had no role in the ongoing battle.

    In today's meeting, Kagame and Tshisekedi are set to iron out issues across the EAC face to face alongside other leaders.

    As latest as Friday, June 17, the DRC also closed its border over claims that a Congolese soldier was shot dead in a scuffle with Rwandan soldiers.

    In April, Kenya's President also hosted a meeting aimed at addressing the DRC war which was attended by Ndayishimiye, Museveni and Tshisekedi. 

    Kagame who has been in power for more than two decades, missed the meeting but was represented by his Minister of Foreign Affairs Vincent Biruta.

    Kagame's fallout with Tshisekedi his, however, not the first time Rwanda, under his leadership, has had differences with the country's immediate neighbours.

    In 2015, Kagame and the then Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza had fallen out after the latter accused his Rwandan counterpart of supporting rebel groups. Kagame was also accused of harbouring a safe haven for political rebels who had attempted to topple the Burundian Government.

    For the seven years that followed, the relationship between the two countries remained strained with the State House meeting being the first time that Burundi's new President Evariste Ndayishimiye is meeting Kagame. Since January, the two have enjoyed correspondence that saw Ndayishimiye send a team to meet Rwanda's Presidential delegation.

    Previously, Kagame has also had a rocky relationship with Uganda that resulted in the closure of the border at some point in 2019. Initially, the two countries had enjoyed a good relationship dating back to their democratic struggles when the Tutsi's from Rwanda found solace in Uganda to create the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPP).

    The rift came about after Rwanda, in March 2019, urged its nationals to leave Uganda after accusing the Museven-led Government of arresting them and supporting splinter groups out to topple its government.

    Museveni's son Muhoozi Kainerugaba, however, stepped in to salvage the relationship after a meeting with the Rwandan leader that has since improved the relationship.

    In 2013, Kagame also experienced tensions between his government and that of the then Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete which eased following a truce between the two leaders.

    A Tanzanian soldier had been killed in the clashes that were going on in the DRC. The conflict had been between the Intervention Brigade, the first-ever UN combat force, and the M23 rebels.

    In the State House meeting, the six Heads of State, as well as a representative from Tanzania, are expected to discuss the acceleration of ongoing regional efforts to attain sustainable peace and security in Eastern DR Congo.

    A dispatch from Kenya's Presidency stated that "President Samia Suluhu Hassan of the United Republic of Tanzania is represented at the meeting by the country's ambassador to Kenya, High Commissioner John Stephen Simbachawene."

    President Uhuru Kenyatta (Right) with President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo at State House, Nairobi. December 10, 2019.
    President Uhuru Kenyatta (Right) with President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo at State House, Nairobi. December 10, 2019.
    PSCU
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