Rwanda-Uganda Conflict: Rukundo G Rugari responds to Andrew Mwenda

Mr. Rukundo G Rugari. /Facebook
By :
Rukundo G Rugari

I have actually been able to read the entire article; a very difficult job, when one considers the entry point of analysis which I find heavily based on personal feelings than on any one tool of international relations analysis.

I love teaching and I have, in the past, given students full marks whenever they showed they prepared for their presentations.

But I have always failed to tolerate students who fail to sepate topic frameworks from what a common man on the street would say about any subject, from medicine to history to philosophy, to law and now to international relations.

Had Andrew Mwenda been in my class, he would have earned a stern warning and the very last lenient pass mark.

May be it’s me with a problem for taking these issues too academic, but while analysing state to state relations, it’s a crime to use words like “I”, “he”, much less complain about not understanding the motive of a head of state.

Millions of dollars are spent on intelligence, counter intelligence and espionage simply to read the mind of statesmen. Few countries ever achieve this.

How then does Andrew hope to study and understand Museveni or Paul Kagame’s motives without any tool of analysis?

It’s not possible at anyone given time to read the mind of a Statesman because he may also not understand why he does the things he does. This is because heads of States are only driven by national interest when they are dealing with other states. This is true for both democrats and dictators.

The State of Rwanda is one that had and continues to premise her foreign policy on classical realism and they have been very proud to pronounce that and act within this framework by the different belligent acts in the region which they called pre-emptying defense.

Read: ANDREW M. MWENDA: Inside the Rwanda-Uganda conflict

It’s this policy that has seen the region get ravaged by war, (DRC), coups, (Burundi) and assassinations( all over Africa but recently Uganda).

It’s now clear that classic realism was never a good idea for Rwanda in the long run.

As for President Museveni, he refused to pick on any of the Western generated theoretical frameworks on Uganda’s foreign policy and he instead built his own brand that only he can explain.

President Yoweri K Museveni – Commander in Chief, Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF)

He has baptised it Pan Africanism, although he has to articulate it better for our understanding since its may not be similar to the global Pan-African movement. However, this theory, if I may call it one, is there to serve Uganda’s Foreign Policy, not that of the region, Rwanda included.

It’s therefore wrong to make an argument that seems to suggest President Museveni, while negotiating with Paul Kagame, should consider any other interest other than that of Uganda. He has to drop the regional lens and use the Ugandan one exclusively.
That’s how states are made to operate.

Therefore, the Pan-African speech that President Museveni made recently was purely to serve Uganda’s interests, not any other state.

On the other hand, however, there is no question that Museveni combines Marchiavelism, mostly domestically and a more liberal form of foreign policy except when it comes to Western countries where you see structural realism in play. (He lets his national strength speak for him – He has used the UPDF to conduct his foreign policy relations with the West excellently.

I say liberal because Rwanda and Uganda’s relations collapsed in 1998, and it has only been maintained through Museveni’s detente, majorly through the EAC.
President Museveni never even attempted deterrence which would have sparked a poor man’s arms race.

It’s the reason today, tension has always been caused by actions from Rwanda, not Uganda.

The Kisangani massacre of UPDF was a well orchestrated and planned move that took advantage of the old camaraderie between UPDF and RDF.

I don’t know why no one wants to talk about political assassinations in Uganda, sponsored by Rwanda, and an attempt on the life of President Museveni himself.

President Paul Kagame, Commander in Chief, Rwanda Defence Force (RDF)

Because Paul Kagame ursuped power in Rwanda and purged all powerful voices of reason of both Hutu and Tutsi, the Arusha consensus broke down and was replaced by the most violent repression in the history of any African state.
Kami, Kwagacinya, Gabiro, Kanombe Garrison, Gako, Kumurindi…. are some of the most notorious places where all Rwandans know one has little chance of surviving once they entered those places on any charges.
People like Alexis Kanyarengwe, Bihozagara, Patrick Mazimpaka, Seth Sendashong (assasinated in Nairobi in broad day light- Kaweesi style), Col Lizinde also assassinated in Nairobi, Asiel Kabera, assasinated in Rwanda, recently Karugarama (living but sidelined).

In the military; Cols Ndugute, Nyamurangwa ( Living), Birasa, Cyiza, Ngoga, Birasa, Alex Ruzindana, Major John Sengati, Major Kayitare( PK’s driver), All the above assasinated; then Col Patrick Karegyeya and an attempt on General Nyamwasa, in South Africa.
Paul Kagame’s Physician Dr Gasakure, killed in broad day light at a police post, Assinapol Rwigara, killed in a poorly arranged assassination arrangement, which made his family witness his killing and body bagging. The list is endless……

Senator Jean de Dieu Mucyo was assassinated a while back.

War time assassinations: Captain Boniface Bitamazire, Captain Sam Byaruhanga, Captain Vadeste Kayitare, Captain Donate Muvunanyambo…… The list is endless again.

I wonder how many of these who left widows and orphans, ever register on Andrew Mwenda’s conciousness.

The result has been a population of refugees that is over 20 times bigger than the one we had before RPA invaded Rwanda in 1990 & this population is scatterred everywhere all over the world. I doubt there is a country that has no Rwandan refugees, including Central South American ones

Brave politicians like Diane Rwigara and Victoire Ingabire who attracted international scrutiny of the human rights situation in Rwanda have achieved one of the greatest diplomatic coups in the history of dictatorship.

What followed was clear messages from regional leaders for PK to talk to his political enemies, FDLR and all the others, to which he openly threatened to kill the sitting President of Tanzania, Jakaya Kikwete.

It then quickly turned into a regional issue:
a) SADC flushed M23 out of DRC
b) Rwandans were expelled from Tanzania
c) A coup was aborted in Burundi
d) Paul Kagame’s killing machine was dismantled in Uganda.
e) Tshekedi won an election in DRC.

All power levers Paul Kagame used to pull on had been completely disabled.

Let’s now bring in the currency called power and see how much Paul Kagame has left in the bank.

I personally see an empty account.

So, why do we now demand that Museveni should negotiate with a person who has nothing to take to the market place of international politics?

Let’s leave Museveni alone to secure Uganda’s interests.

I see a vicious war coming and Rwandan refugees themselves will fight this once again 25 – 27 years after the genocide of 1994, unless Paul Kagame sits down for talks with them.

Here is what Hans Morganthau wrote about how to study international relations, phenomena and events:

“The main signpost that helps political realism to find its way through the landscape of international politics is the concept of interest defined in terms of power.

This concept provides the link between reason trying to understand international politics and the facts to be understood.

It sets politics as an autonomous sphere of action and understanding apart from other spheres, such as economics (understood in terms of interest defined as wealth), ethics, aesthetics, or religion.

Without such a concept a theory of politics, international or domestic, would be altogether impossible, for without it we could not distinguish between political and nonpolitical facts, nor could we bring at least a measure of systematic order to the political sphere”.

Hans Morganthau adds:

The concept of interest defined as power imposes intellectual discipline upon the observer, infuses rational order into the subject matter of politics, and thus makes the theoretical understanding of politics possible”.

Political realism believes that politics, like society in general, is governed by objective laws that have their roots in human nature. In order to improve society it is first necessary to understand the laws by which society lives. The operation of these laws being impervious to our preferences, men will challenge them only at the risk of failure.

Realism assumes that its key concept of interest defined as power is an objective category which is universally valid, but it does not endow that concept with a meaning that is fixed once and for all. The idea of interest is indeed of the essence of politics and is unaffected by the circumstances of time and place.

Political realism refuses to identify the moral aspirations of a particular nation with the moral laws that govern the universe. As it distinguishes between truth and opinion, so it distinguishes between truth and idolatry. All nations are tempted-and few have been able to resist the temptation for long-to clothe their own particular aspirations and actions in the moral purposes of the universe. To know that nations are subject to the moral law is one thing, while to pretend to know with certainty what is good and evil in the relations among nations is quite another”.

Therefore we are given some variables to work with:
1. Politics is governed by objective laws that that are rooted in human nature and the one single character that is understood is that humans are inherently selfish – selfishly selfish, said one professor!

2. Universal validity and timelessness of political realism, most importantly that interest and therefore the variable called power is not affected by time and circumstances. It applies to the relation between Rwanda and Uganda as much as it applies between the USA and Russia.

3. National morality is subordinated to universal morality. This means both relating countries are at par since none can claim any moral high ground thought their interactions.

And of course he goes on and on……..

But to make any analysis about a Statesman or an interaction of many; INTEREST is the good and POWER is the currency of exchange

Like some other author said, we attempt as much as possible to ignore the NOISE and only look out for the SIGNAL

National morality doesn’t

Unfortunately Andrew, there is a lot of noise in your analysis on the Uganda – Rwanda relations.


It’s a post WWII publication But sadly our politics hasn’t advanced much beyond his wisdom.

Having known that power is the currency of exchange in international politics, then it should be easy to understand why Museveni is behaving the way he does towards Rwanda and we must also accept that his action is rational.
The genesis of differences between Paul Kagame and Museveni can be traced back in 1997 – 2000 when Paul Kagame decided to remove Bizimungu against Museveni’s advice.

Was Uganda interested in who should be President in Rwanda? Of course.

Was that interest a personal Museveni feeling? – Never!

States simply have interests that transcend any one individual, including the President.
These interests are expressed in terms of power.
The moment Paul Kagame ousted President Bizimungu against Museveni’s advice meant Uganda’s foreign interests had been undermined. Now, states are not humans to let go of their interests or ignore losses, much less forgive.

Paul Kagame, instead of remedying the situation, he made it worse each time.

I think what we should drop is to think egos of both leaders of Uganda and Rwanda are the reason we have this very tense situation.

No leader has ever been able to get above his/her national interest to cause war between his country with another.

Hitler was not a mad man. The Versailles treaty which was weighing heavily against Germany was the real problem.

Of course the resulting carnage caused the Holocaust – a crime against humanity. Even here, we know in Hitler’s mind, this was a rational act since he had declared total war. (Mobilizing everything, anything and everyone against anything and everyone considered an enemy).

Had Germany won WWII, no one would be talking of the Holocaust.

A statesman can miscalculate and lose allies or cause and lose a war. But he is never acting outside his national interest.

Domestic politics is of course not entirely removed from what finally defines national interest, especially where states are weak, failing or failed.
However, any leader of any country decides which course to take in relation to other states.

Paul Kagame chose to define Rwanda’s alliance with Uganda as one of equals and later elevated this relation by making Rwanda superior to Uganda and many commentators believed this, including Ugandans.

Consequences have been very devastating and will continue to worsen going forward.

In reality, Rwanda has been punching way above her weight at an international level and her citizens have paid the price in full measure.

If it should happen and Paul Kagame losses power in Kigali, and in my own judgement he has already lost the strategic phase, the world will be shocked at what he has been doing in and to Rwanda.

I play we recognize both states as separate with core interests that have not been largely shared.
I didn’t think Rwanda was interested in the EAC for example, beyond having it as a club of neighbors.

(Louise Mushikiwabo is Secretary General of Organisation internationale de la Francophonie -OIF; an organization Rwanda takes more seriously in my opinion).

There are many other examples that I will not go into now, but Rwanda has been travelling a road opposite to that of Uganda for a long time now.

Therefore my friend Andrew, your mediation should have been to address the issue of interest of both countries and not to make the Presidents become friends. A President of a country needs allies and the alliance must be based on national interests and how much power each nation holds.


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Africa Tembelea’s editorial stance.

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