East African traders to sue Uganda and Rwanda over border dispute


JOHANNESBURG, July 3 (ANA) – The border stand-off between Uganda and Rwanda, over mutual accusations of spying on each other’s territory and supporting hostile opposition groups, is about to take a dramatic turn after a group of East African traders announced they intended to sue the countries over financial losses in the East African Court of Justice in Arusha in northern Tanzania.

Rwanda suddenly closed the border in February after President Paul Kagame accused his Ugandan counterpart, President Yoweri Museveni, of supporting groups trying to overthrow Kagame’s regime and detaining Rwandan citizens arbitrarily.

The partial closure led to a bottleneck of students, businessmen, travellers and trucks queuing with goods, some of them perishables, and seriously impacted trade between the neighbouring countries as a major economic land route used daily by merchants and businesspeople on both sides was severed.

As local economies on both sides of the border rely on cross-border trade to survive, three civil society groups representing communities along the border, said they had filed a complaint with the East African Court of Justice demanding reparations from Uganda and Rwanda for their losses, the East African reported.

The Tanzanian court, which was set up by the six-member EAC bloc, comprising South Sudan, Kenya, Burundi, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda, would hear the matter after attorneys general in Kigali and Kampala had been served with court papers, said Sheila Kawamara-Mishambi, the executive director of the East African Sub-regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of Women, one of the complainants.

In a statement, the coalition said the blockade had contravened the treaty terms of the EAC concerning freedom of trade and movement over the border.

According to analysts the ongoing stand-off not only threatens plans for economic integration in the region but also stability in the area.

- African News Agency (ANA)


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