Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto has blasted the Kigali establishment for closing their border with Uganda over unclear reasons saying such actions hinder the much desired regional integration.
“I don’t know what the problem because we all speak the right language. We know what we must do but we don’t do what is right,”Ruto told delegates during the Africa Now Summit held at the Commonwealth Hotel in Munyonyo under the theme ‘Towards a secure, Integrated and growing Africa.’
“We still have incidents of cattle from one country being auctioned in another country because they crossed the border from another country. We also still have a border in one country being blocked by another country in East Africa.”
Although he did not directly name any countries, it is highly probable that he was referring to the border dispute between Uganda and Rwanda.
“Really! That makes us really concerned. We should be thinking of how to eliminate work permits and how to integrate the region better,” Ruto said.
Ruto said economic integration is critical in enabling the continent take its rightful place in the global market place.
He cited the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) will create a single market for goods and services and will increase trade within the continent.
“Unless Africans can travel, work, study and trade across borders unimpeded by bureaucracy, the continent’s dream of economic emancipation and unification will never be realised. Economic integration is critical in enabling Africa take its rightful place in global marketplace.”
Ruto asked President Museveni, whom he described as a father figure in the region to help steer integration.
“You are a father figure in our region and we are looking up to you for leadership. You can’t escape from responsibility. You have to provide leadership for East Africa to march forward,” he said.
The comments by Ruto come on the heels of a frosty relationship between Uganda and Rwanda which culminated into closure of the border by the latter.
On Saturday while addressing a retreat of national leaders, Paul Kagame, the Rwanda president said his country had been “provoked” by Uganda that prompted them to close the Katuna border.
He claimed that a number of Rwanda nationals had been detained in military facilities in Uganda without any charge.
On the other side, Uganda has since denied the claims, adding that all Rwandan nationals arrested have cases to answer and have since been arraigned in courts of law.
“There is no Rwandan in police custody outside the jurisdiction of the law. Any Rwandan in custody has been processed through the police system or judicial system,” Uganda government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo told journalists.