President Yoweri Museveni has issued an advisory for Ugandans to stop traveling to neighboring Rwanda, in yet another twist in the ongoing diplomatic negotiations between the two countries.
President Museveni this week ordered Resident District Commissioners (RDC) of the districts neighboring Rwanda to start implementing this directive.
For the Ugandans that must travel to Rwanda, Museveni said, they should do so “at their own risk.”
The directive is entailed in a letter from the Minister for the Presidency Hon Esther Mbayo to the RDCs.
It follows a string of incidents in which Rwanda security forces have killed citizens of both countries accusing them of smuggling goods across the border.
The most recent victim is Sydney Muhereza, a Ugandan businessman who was shot dead by Rwandan soldiers on the night of 2nd June 2020 in Kamatengu village Rwere sector, Burera District. Rwanda accused him of smuggling match boxes into the country.
In the letter dated Tuesday August 4th, Hon Mbayo says President Museveni had ordered the RDCs to inform the citizens of the current situation.
“His Excellency the President has sent a directive to you all the RDCs especially those in the districts bordering Rwanda to inform the Ugandans of the criminal Rwandan government policy of shooting smugglers that are not armed, although what they are doing is illegal,” she wrote.
“Ugandans should stop going into Rwanda, or those who go, should do so at their own risk.”
Peter Mugisha, the RDC Kisoro District told ChimpReports he had not yet received the letter from Minister Mbayo. He said however, that Rwanda had gone overboard by killing unarmed civilians and that Uganda’s response was long overdue.
“Once I receive that letter, we are ready to implement the president’s directives. This cannot continue to happen,” he said.
The move by President Museveni is an unpredicted reciprocation of the directive by Rwanda President Paul Kagame early last year, barring all Rwandans from traveling to Uganda.
At the peak of the diplomatic row between the two nations, Kagame closed the Katuna border, which remains closed to this date.
Subsequent talks to iron out the misunderstandings between the two countries have been stalled among others by the Covid19 pandemic.
Meanwhile in the letter, President Museveni also hinted on possible response from Ugandan security forces in case Rwandan soldiers stray into Ugandan territory has been alleged in the past.
“As for the Rwandan soldiers infiltrating into Uganda to kidnap people, the concerned agencies are already briefed as to how to deal with that provocation.”
Just last month, Uganda accused Rwanda of kidnapping its citizen from the Ugandan side of the border.
Levi Karuhanga, a 45-year-old resident of Mushenyi village in Rubaya sub county in Kabale District was reportedly grabbed by Rwandan soldiers from his work station.
Residents and local leaders said Karuhanga was picked over 200 meters inside the Ugandan side of the border. He was burning charcoal for sale.
Nelson Nshangabasheija, the Katuna Town Council chairperson says when Karuhanga tried to run, the soldiers cocked their guns and he surrendered.
While being grabbed, the soldiers reportedly claimed Karuhanga was a Rwandan national who was disguising as a Ugandan.