The East African Law Society (EALS), a regional bar representing lawyers from across the East African Community (EAC) member states, on Wednesday offered to reconcile the disputes between Rwanda and Uganda.

A statement by the EALS said the body has mobilized experienced diplomats, senior lawyers, influential civil society officials and representatives of the business community to step up efforts to mend ties between the two countries. “We are separately reaching out to the heads of state of Rwanda and Uganda with the offer for mediation,” said Willy Rubeya, the EALS President, in the statement.

The EALS’s intervention comes at a time of fears across the region following sour diplomatic relations between Rwanda and Uganda. Rubeya said EALS will soon avail the team and keep the public informed of the status of the dispute resolution.

The Arusha-based regional bar with over 17,000 lawyers has an observer status to the EAC, a regional body formed by Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan. One of its mandates is to promote regional integration through cross-border trade and building capacity of legal, professional and public institutions. EALS also appealed to the leaders of the two countries to re-open and operationalize their common border even as a lasting solution to the crisis was sought.

Rubeya expressed profound concern over the deteriorating relations between the two neighbors “due to the facts that are now in public domain.” Of much concern is the effect of the situation on the economy and provision of basic needs to the affected population, he said.

Rubeya said escalation of the situation at the common border of the two sovereign states has brought with it “the undesired effect of constraining free movement of citizens and goods”. He said the society and its members, spread across the six EAC partner states, believed the solution to the crisis lay in a negotiated settlement.

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