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Wednesday, 7 June, 2000, 19:34 GMT 20:34 UK
How Uganda and Rwanda fell out

By Chris Simpson in Kigali

The tensions between Uganda and Rwanda are not new and go far beyond the showdown in Kisangani.

Many of the Rwandan political and military elite, including President Paul Kagame, spent years in Uganda, and gave invaluable support to Yoweri Museveni when he was still a guerrilla leader.

As president, Museveni broadly supported Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) in its war against the regime of Juvenal Habyarimana.

When the RPF took power in July 1994, the old Ugandan-Rwandan partnership was extended, particularly in trade and foreign policy.

In 1996, Kagame and Museveni both backed Congolese guerrilla leader Laurent Kabila's war against President Mobutu Sese Seko.

When Kabila fell from favour, Uganda and Rwanda orchestrated the rebellion against him, sponsoring the rebel Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD) when it was founded in August 1998. But problems rapidly emerged.

Uganda accused

Rwanda accused senior Ugandans, including Museveni's brother, Salim Saleh, of using the war to promote their own economic interests.

The Ugandans responded in kind. Kisangani was an early flashpoint.

Garrisons from both armies occupied the north-east and Rwanda was strongly critical of Ugandan commanding officer, Brigadier James Kazini, now Museveni's Chief of Staff.

Relations worsened when Uganda backed a rival rebel movement, the Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC), led by businessman Jean-Pierre Bemba, which opened up a new front in the north.

Bloody battle

Uganda also stayed loyal to former RCD leader Ernest Wamba dia Wamba after he lost the rebel presidency in May 1999, encouraging him to make Kisangani his capital.

Rebel rivalries were used by both Rwandan and Ugandan armies, the competition culminating in a bloody battle for control in August 1998, which left the Rwandans markedly stronger.

Relations have remained strained since then.

Kazini has remained a prominent hate figure for Rwandans.

Bemba and Wamba have remained Ugandan clients.

The formal commitments to reconciliation have been increasingly undermined by hostile propaganda from both capitals.

After weeks of rising tension, there was a fresh shoot-out in Kisangani on 5 May.

Nine days later, Kagame met Museveni in the Tanzanian lakeside city of Mwanza, but there was little evidence of a new entente.

While the UN talked optimistically about securing the 'demilitarisation' of Kisangani, the rival armies clearly had unfinished business, both more than ready to resume hostilities.

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See also:

17 May 00 | Africa
Quick UN Congo force urged
08 May 00 | Africa
Congo town pull out agreed
05 May 00 | Africa
Uganda attacks Rwandans in Congo
05 May 00 | Africa
UN failing in Africa
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