Ugandan Foreign Affairs Minister Hon Sam Kutesa has said that the 9 Rwandan nationals that were released from Prison yesterday, were not arbitrarily arrested as the Rwandan government claimed.
Their release and repatriation back to Rwanda, the minister said, was entirely out of Uganda’s “good will” and commitment to deescalate the tensions between the two countries.
“To withdraw the charges, for us we think it’s an act of good will which we hope will be reciprocated by the Rwanda government by dealing with the other issues we have raised with them,” Kutesa said while handing over the freed Rwanda nationals.
These were handed over to the Rwandan Ambassador to Uganda Maj Gen Frank Mugambage in Kampala on Wednesday.
Minister Kutesa stressed that the release of these individuals by the General Court Martial yesterday was not an acquittal, adding that they could be rearrested.
“We are doing this as a political move to ease the tensions between our two countries,” he said.
The Minister was responding to Amb. Mugambage, who in his speech at the hand over, called for the end of what it termed as “arbitrary arrests” of Rwandan citizens in Uganda.
Mugambage appreciated the release of the 9 but called for more Rwandans who are still in detention to be freed as well.
“What we are witnessing is a step in the right direction. I am appreciating this as a step in the right direction and I’m mentioning ‘step’ because I always like to be very clear; a step in the right direction needs to be followed by further action to end all the concerns that we have always raised over time,” he said.
“We request in good gesture that all those who were arbitrarily arrested and are under illegal detention should also be released. Not only that. The whole act of arbitrary arrest must also end,” said Mugambage.
The freed persons are Mugabe Nelson, Rtd Sgt Rene Rutagungira, Etienne Nsanzabahizi, Claude Yakalemye Emmanuel Rwamuchwo Augustine Rutayisire CPL Nzeyamana Herman Munyagabe Adrien and Urayeneza Gilbert.
These are expected to be handed over to the immigration office to be repatriated back to Rwanda.
Speaking about the Rwandans that are still detained in Uganda, Minister Kutesa said “We have a list of names that were given to us by Rwanda through the High Commission, many have been dealt with and have been deported through legal means and being signed for by the immigration authorities of Rwanda. Many of them have returned.”
He added that Uganda was “doing this as an open act to deescalate tensions between our two countries.”
Asked the details of discussions between ambassador Adonia Ayebare and President Paul Kagame, Kutesa said that Adonia was only carrying a message from Museveni to Kagame adding that “what you see today is a product of discussion that went on.”