When the second meeting of the AdHoc Commission for the implementation of the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding convened in Kampala on Friday, Rwanda tabled seven key issues it has with Kampala that must be addressed if relations are to get back on track.
The head of Rwanda’s delegation Amb. Olivier Nduhungirehe laid bare each issue and went on to support it with evidence. It is no wonder that after more than 8 hours behind closed doors, the two countries could not agree on issues hence no post-talks statement.
Not even the Ugandan Minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Kutesa could address the issues raised by Rwanda or make commitments even though he proposed a joint verification mechanism to investigate all the issues but ultimately the issues will be referred to the Heads of State.
A source privy to discussions told KT Press that the Ugandan delegation was shocked by the damning evidence Minister Nduhungirehe put on the table particularly pinning Uganda on supporting armed groups seeking to destabilise Rwanda.
“Support to armed groups attempting to wreak terror on Rwanda, and illegal detention of Rwandans in Uganda has not ceased,” Nduhungirehe said, adding that “operatives and leaders of these groups continue to receive facilitation and safe passage in Uganda including by senior officials of the Government,”
Nduhungirehe went on to reveal details unknown before, linking the Ugandan Minister of State for Regional Cooperation, Mateke Philemon, to the October attacks by armed groups in Musanze and Burera districts in Northern Province.
“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,”
“The attack was launched from eastern DRC, close to the Ugandan border and the Volcanoes National Park. Most of the attackers were killed. Some were captured alive,” Nduhungirehe said, adding 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 the Hon Mateke Philemon, Uganda’s Minister of State for Regional Cooperation,” Nduhungirehe told the meeting.
Sources say it was an embarrassing moment for the Ugandan team and could not make commitments to address the issues especially after one of their own was implicated –the source said the Ugandan delegation decided to first discuss the issues with President Yoweri Museveni.
Nduhungirehe emphasised the same issue of Uganda backing armed groups fighting the Rwandan government. At the post-meeting press conference, a seemingly cornered Kutesa could not find an appropriate answer.
“We also discussed issues that Uganda raised, like attempts to infiltrate our security agencies, issues like the closure of the border by Rwanda,” Minister Kutesa said, yet again diverting the conversation to the closure of the border by Rwanda, despite earlier Nduhungirehe warning that Uganda should stop making the issue about the border.
Minister Kutesa avoided addressing the issues Rwanda raised including evidence such as the three of the attackers of Musanze and Burera fleeing to Kisoro District in Uganda, where they stayed briefly, before being evacuated to Makenke Barracks in Mbarara District.
They were later transferred to the CMI headquarters in Mbuya, Kampala. Rwanda’s High Commission in Uganda sent a note verbale on the issue on 14th October 2019. It remains unanswered to date.
The revelations were so damning that even the head of CMI Brig. Gen Abel Kandiho, who has been individually fingered for backing these groups including Rwanda National Congress (RNC), who was present at the meeting could not deny them.
Minister Kutesa however made a blank statement saying that Uganda would never support groups seeking to destabilise Rwanda.
“As Uganda, we will never support any force destabilising or that seeks to destabilise any of our neighbours including Rwanda,” he said, adding that Kampala would take interest in the issues and investigate them, adding that they will refer the matters to the heads of state.
Mateke and armed groups
It is not the first time the name of the elderly Ugandan Minister has been brought to the fore by a number of reports linking him to the armed groups fighting the government of Rwanda.
In March this year, it was reported that President Museveni had tasked Mateke to hold a coordination meeting in Kampala between the RNC and the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).
Around that time, the spokesperson of the FDLR, Ignace Nkaka aka Laforge Bazeye Fils and the chief of intelligence, Lt. Col. Nsekanabo Jean Pierre alias Abega Kamala, were intercepted at the Bunagana border with the DRC on their way from the meeting in Kampala.
DRC officials handed them over to Rwanda and among the things they revealed is Museveni’s commitment that the RNC and FDLR join their forces in order to give the impression that those opposed to Kagame reflect a broad base of Rwandans from the main ethnic groups of Hutus and Tutsis.
As recent as last month, Mateke’s name was echoed again as the coordinator of the anti-Rwanda activities in Uganda and behind the recent wave of arrests and deportations in Kisoro district.
He reportedly oversaw a quick trial and deportation of 12 Rwandans Pacifique Munyaneza, Vedaste Murasanyi, Estien Niyongabo, Felicien Nsengimana, Jean De Dieu Habumugisha, Emmanuel Dusabimana, John Nsengimana, Bosco Nshimiye, Cornille Ntezimana, Joshua Iradukunda, Stephen Harindimana, and Eric Twinomujuni.
The dozen were among the 35 Rwandans that recently were moved from CMI’s torture dungeons to different Ugandan police stations. They were handed over to the Kisoro Magistrate Court on Wednesday, 30 October.
Mateke is reported to have entered the court premises and ordered the magistrate and state attorney to sentence them for a long time.
The politician has also been named several times by combatants arrested in DRC and handed over to Rwanda, with some remarking that he openly expresses his distaste of the current Rwandan government.
Despite his name appearing in a number of reports linking him to armed groups hostile to the Rwandan government, the Ugandan government has not taken any action. It is not the first time Mateke has manifested his hate for Rwanda.
In the early 80’s, Mateke who was then a strong politicians under President Milton Obote’s government is said to have been behind the move to chase Rwandan refugees out of Uganda. He is also said to be seeing Rwandan politics in the mirror of Hutu and Tutsi.
A source in the Kampala meeting told KT Press that the Ugandan delegation knew President Museveni was aware of the issues Rwanda raised, pointing out that only him can advise on the way forward, even though Ugandan actions are said to be deliberate.