By Godfrey Olukya 14-11-2012
The closure of Uganda border to Democratic republic of Congo by Uganda government has been criticized by residents of eastern Congo saying that it will affect their lives.
They say that is the only outlet through which they get imported goods from the outside world and closing it would be violating their human rights.
‘We use that border post to import items we need from other countries. We also use it to export some of our produce. It is unfair to close such an important route.’ said a Congolese elder Papi Mbashi.
However Uganda says that the border was closed yesterday following a request by Democratic Republic of Congo president, Joseph Kabila.
According to a statement issued today by Uganda government, president Kabila sent a special envoy to Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni requesting for the closure of the border post because M23 rebels tax goods that pass through it.
‘The DRC government had concerns that, M23 rebels were taking advantage of the open border point at Bunagana to collect revenue from cargo vehicles and other goods. ‘the statement said.’Upon receiving the request, President Museveni informed the Special Envoy that Uganda would consider closure of the border post upon receiving a formal and written request from President Kabila, indicating that the Government of the DRC would take responsibility for any negative impact on the humanitarian situation as result of closing the border.’
Subsequently, the Government of the DRC made a formal request on 30th October, 2012 to President Museveni reassuring him that, the closure of the border post will not affect the lives of the civilian population in Bunagana, in spite of the conflict. Further that, the movement of the people, goods and supplies of basic needs to the population will continue without restriction to Rutshuru territory as well as between the latter and the city of Goma.
Pursuant to the above reassurance by the DRC Government, the Government of Uganda took a decision to close Bunagana border post in order to positively respond to the concerns of the DRC Government in the spirit of good neighborliness between the two sister States.
The statement added on that government of Uganda reiterates its commitment as the Chair of ICGLR to the process of finding a durable solution to the conflict in Eastern DRC, in line with the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region.