The Week that was: Uganda, to operate under tight budget cuts next year, excitement as Rwanda opens Gatuna border, regional bloc ECOWAS attempt to resolve crisis in Burkina Faso as Mali accuses France of selfish interests

Uganda will have to work with a smaller budget in the next Financial Year after Parliament last week endorsed a Shs43 trillion Budget for the Financial Year 2022/2023, a reduction of Shs1.6 trillion from Shs44.7 trillion for the previous Financial Year 2021/2022. The country’s economy is still recovering from shock waves brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic-induced shock.

It is all joy and jubilation between two sister countries Rwanda and Uganda as the government of Rwanda announced the opening of the Gatuna border post on Monday. The border was closed three years ago in 2019 in what many call a sensitive diplomatic standoff. Following talks that eventually saw First son and commander of the Land Forces in Uganda take a trip to Kigali to meet with President Paul Kagame.

Rwanda on Thursday afternoon announced that the common border between the two countries at Gatuna/Katuna, will be opened on Monday to both human and cargo traffic. “…the Government of Rwanda has taken note that there is a process to solve issues raised by Rwanda, as well as commitments made by the Government of Uganda to address remaining obstacles,” the statement from the Rwandan Foreign Affairs ministry reads.

The business community in Uganda have received news of the border reopening with excitement. Many say the gesture will restore broken cross-border family ties and trade as well as wider economic development.

Meanwhile the Kampala City Traders Association have called for the East African Community to examine causes of the border closure with the aim of ensuring that the same does not happen in future. The Association have said it was a mistake for leaders in the region not to intervene, arguing that it was incumbent on all as members of the East African bloc to ensure an end to the standoff.

In troubled West Africa a team from the West African regional bloc Ecowas last week announced a trip to Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, today to assess the situation in the country. Last week military officers toppled the government of elected President Roch Kaboré. The Ecowas team, joined by the UN’s office for West Africa will hold talks with the Lt Col Paul-Henri Damiba-led junta, as well as various Burkinabè actors. Ecowas will hold a summit later this week in Ghana for further deliberations on the situation. Leaders of the regional body held a virtual emergency meeting on Friday where they suspended the country’s membership from the regional bloc.

Meanwhile in neighbouring Mali, the government has accused France of fronting selfish interests in the ongoing crisis in the country. Mali’s Foreign Minister says the main reason why tensions are growing with France is that the French believe his country is not acting in their interests. Abdoulaye Diop dismissed French concerns about Mali’s alleged use of Russian mercenaries to fight Islamist insurgents. Mr Diop said France had no right to describe last year’s coup as illegitimate as it had good relationships with other countries with military rulers. Hundreds of French troops are reported based in Mali, advising and supporting local troops.

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