Uganda and Rwanda have this Thursday traded accusations of undermining each other’s national security during a video conference meeting set up to resolve their outstanding differences.
Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Vincent Biruta said Uganda continued to support groups seeking to destabilize his country.
“For instance, outfits of that Self-Worth Initiative still operate RNC cells in Uganda. This goes against the Government of Uganda’s previous commitment to disbanding the activities of this criminal organization,” said Biruta.
“There is a trend of on-going mobilization activities in different parts of Uganda to support RNC and other different negative forces that continue to receive the support from Uganda’s Security Organs,” he added.
However, Kutesa today said Self-Worth Initiative of Prossy Boonabana and Sulah Nuwamamya was deregistered.
“This was done on 12th March 2020 and officially announced in the Gazzette on 16th March 2020. The following day, on 17th March 2020, the Government of Rwanda was officially informed,” said Kutesa.
Biruta also accused Uganda of mistreating Rwandans, giving examples of two women who were handed to Rwanda at the border after being reportedly beaten by Ugandan security personnel.
“Additionally, Rwandans reported being detained at security detention centers continue to be denied consular visits and are not produced before any courts of law to stand trial,” said Biruta.
The meeting chaired by Kutesa was graced by Tete Antonio, Minister of External Relations of Angola, Gilbert Kankonde Malamba, DR Congo’s Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Interior, Security and Customary Affairs.
The meeting was a follow-up to the decisions of the fourth quadripartite Summit held in Katuna on February 21, 2020.
Kutesa speaks out
Kutesa expressed Uganda’s commitment to address Rwanda’s concerns, saying many Rwandans held in jail will be released.
“Last month, the President pardoned 130 Rwandans who were in detention, serving time for various offenses committed,” said Kutesa.
“These prisoners have now been processed and on Monday and Tuesday next week, we will be ready to hand them over to the Rwandan authorities at Cyanika and Mirama Hills border points. I request that the relevant Rwandan are present to receive them,” he added.
“With the pardon of these prisoners, 310 Rwandan nationals charged with capital offences will remain in custody. The details of those in detention will be shared with the government of Rwanda.”
Part of Kutesa’s statement delivered during today’s virtual meeting
Kutesa also accused Kigali of espionage, saying despite Uganda’s demonstrable steps to normalize ties, Rwanda has not lived to the same spirit.
“Espionage and other malignant activities, which undermine the national security of Uganda have continued unabated. These activities are unacceptable. We have continued to apprehend individuals, including those with falsified documents that have been used in these unlawful acts,” Kutesa observed.
ChimpReports understands several Rwandans were recently apprehended by military intelligence personnel in Uganda on allegations of espionage.
They were later interrogated by military intelligence experts and detained pending prosecution on charges related to subversion and spying.
Kutesa further accused Rwanda of running a hostile propaganda campaign against Uganda, citing publications by Igihe, The New Times and Virunga Post among others.
Virunga Post recently accused Senior Presidential Advisor in charge of Special Operations Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba of committing serious offences, without providing evidence.
Muhoozi didn’t respond to the accusations.
The tensions between Uganda and Rwanda have hurt each other’s economies as movement of persons and goods remain restricted.
The annual volume of trade between the two countries had hit $200m before relations collapsed in 2018.
Ugandans in Rwandan jails
During today’s meeting, Kutesa revealed that many Ugandans remain in detention in Rwanda.
They include Benjamin Nabimanya, Chris Muyambi, Nicholas Muhanguzi, Colbert Muhanguzi, Bosco Nkwasibwe, Deuriano Orikiriza and Siliaco Orishaba among others.
He also provided a list of five Ugandans killed by Rwandan authorities along the border since November 2019.
“We have consistently called for investigations into the murder of our people. We have also called for the perpetrators to be brought to account, but that has not happened,” said Kutesa.
He also observed that while Uganda’s border remained open to Rwanda’s goods and services, Rwanda’s border to Uganda remained closed and the “illegal trade embargo against Uganda remained in place. Ugandan goods and services are prevented from entering Rwanda or being sold.”
Sources said the meeting was cordial with both parties expecting good results as they seek to normalize relations.
“My delegation looks forward to the fruitful deliberations and working with the Rwandan delegation, on practical steps to normalize our relations for the benefit of our people and the region as a whole,” said Kutesa.
On his part, Biruta thanked Kutesa for organizing the meeting which he said would promote the spirit of comradeship as both Rwanda and Uganda work towards resolving their challenges.
Both parties are expected to issue a joint communique on the way forward.