Uganda’s State Minister for Regional Cooperation, Dr Philemon Mateke, 75, has accused the Rwandan government of a waging a “despicable campaign to malign” his character by accusing him of “supporting elements allegedly working to destabilize the internal security of that country,” a move he said usually precedes execution of the country’s perceived enemies.
It all started with Rwanda’s Junior Minister for Regional Cooperation, Olivier Nduhungirehe alleging during the recently-concluded Rwanda-Uganda talks in Kampala that Uganda continues to support armed groups “attempting to wreak terror on Rwanda.”
Nduhungirehe alleged that during the night of 3rd leading to 4th October 2019, a deadly terror attack was carried out by a militia group known as RUD-Urunana, in the Kinigi sector of Musanze District, Northern Province in which many civilians were killed with machetes and hammers.
He further alleged that the attack was launched from eastern DRC, close to the Ugandan border and the Volcanoes National Park.
The Minister said most of the attackers were killed by Rwandan Forces while the rest were captured alive and that an assortment of material evidence, including phone handsets, and testimonies of captured attackers, was collected.
“One Ugandan telephone number appeared to have been in contact with the attackers both before and during the attack. And this number has been found to belong to Hon Mateke Philemon, Uganda’s Minister of State for Regional Cooperation,” he added.
Nduhungirehe’s statement was widely published in Rwanda’s media as he made his presentation during the Rwanda-Uganda talks in Kampala.
Rwandan trolls carried these allegations on Twitter.
In a statement he described as “personal” and regarding “assault on my character”, Mateke on Thursday morning said he had been “silent for so long, not because I was unaware of these people’s campaign, but because I did not wish to dignify these accusations, in their sheer absurdity, with a response.”
He added: “Recently, however, these people’s antics have crossed a redline whereby their strategy now is not just to impugn my character as a person, but to build a critical mass of hate against me and in the end lay ground for even more sinister violent schemes towards me and my family.”
This is the first time the elderly Mateke is responding to accusations of helping Rwandan dissidents.
A very reliable official told ChimpReports today morning that Mateke has since reported to president Museveni a possible plan to eliminate him.
Mateke rarely travels to his hometown of Kisoro which shares a border with Rwanda in fear of his life.
Whenever he visits the area, the military deploys heavily at his home and in the township to secure him.
Mateke, an influential elder in South Western region, said in his statement that he sought to “denounce in the strongest possible terms attempts by some officials in a neighbouring country” to damage his reputation.
The two countries’ relations have deteriorated in recent months with Kampala accusing Kigali of aggressive espionage activities, infiltration of Uganda’s security services and uprooting prominent Ugandans from the Rwandan economy.
Rwanda is also blamed for closing the common Gatuna border; slapping a trade embargo on Ugandan goods and allowing Defence Minister Gen James Kabarebe to wage a hate campaign against Uganda across the country.
On its part, Kigali accuses Kampala of helping exiled opposition figures to recruit new members; and harassment of its nationals in Uganda, claims the Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa dismissed as “totally untrue and baseless.”
The tension between the two countries has raised the prospect of a possible armed confrontation but President Paul Kagame told a conference in Doha that “we are more reasonable to do that.”
Nevertheless, both countries maintain heavily-armed elite military units on their borders.
Mateke said throughout the whole saga between the two countries, “only one of the parties has been the adult in the room; carefully, painstakingly following diplomatic ethos in handling some of the outlandish accusations and behaviour from the other side.”
The Minister was possibly referring to Museveni’s instructions to Ugandan communication officers and diplomats to exercise what the President described as “strategic patience” in the wake of Rwanda’s provocations and propaganda campaign.
Mateke waged a scathing attack on Nduhungirehe, describing the youthful diplomat as an infamous liar.
“The other side (Rwanda) on the other hand has a social media troll as its chief negotiator, a propaganda wannabe whose ambition seems to topple Joseph Goebbels as history’s most infamous liar,” said Mateke.
Goebbels was the master propagandist of the Nazi regime and Dictator Adolf Hitler.
He was instrumental in convincing the German people to support the Nazi regime and maintained their support during World War II.
Mateke said the accusations from “this individual (Nduhungirehe) and his government’s army of social media trolls and tabloid trash are so absurd that were they not potentially dangerous to my person right now, would easily be laughed off and cast in the trashcan of history’s greatest absurdities.”
ChimpReports has learned that an investigative panel of United Nations sought to interview Mateke on his alleged role in supporting Rwandan dissidents but Kampala responded that such information was just media propaganda waged by Kigali.
Mateke today insisted that his statement was issued “on my own behalf, and not as an official of the government of Uganda.”
He added: “The government, to its credit has continued to handle this situation maturely, in a measured, diplomatic manner and I do not wish them to digress from that and to start defending me. I however retain the right as an individual to defend my character, a character that I have worked for decades to build.”
Asked by the media if it were true that he was meeting dissidents including a one Governor, Mateke responded: “It’s not true, rubbish. Am I a Rwandese? Am I going to be a mercenary? Do I have capacity? Those people are very malicious as they have always been. When they want to eliminate a person, normally these are the excuses they give, you know their job is to eliminate people, but am not their citizen.”