Rwanda and Uganda have gone back on the drawing table, pointing out each other’s concerns and setting demands at the 3rd Ad Hoc Commission meeting in Kigali to lay ground for next week’s meeting between heads of state.
The meeting in Kigali on Friday which brought together delegations from the two countries and representatives of facilitating countries Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) saw Rwanda and Uganda set demands to be honoured ahead of the February 21 meeting at Gatuna/Katuna.
Rwanda’s delegation was led by the Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in charge of East African Community (EAC) Amb. Olivier Nduhungirehe while Uganda’s delegation was spearheaded by Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa.
In his remarks, Minister Nduhungirehe said that since the last meeting of the Ad Hoc Commission in December 2019, there has been some progress, which also followed the visit of President Yoweri Museven’s Special Envoy, Amb. Adonia Ayebare but little has been done by Uganda on the recommendations of the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding.
“Following that visit, Uganda released and deported, on 7th January 2020, nine Rwandans who had been detained illegally for over two years,”
“Despite the above, it is unfortunate that Uganda’s support to armed groups and individual has continued unabated. I will give few examples,” Nduhungirehe said, mentioning some of the activities of terror groups Rwanda National Congress (RNC) and RUD-Urunana which Rwanda says continue to operate in Uganda.
“The leadership of the RNC terrorist organisation, working under the cover of Self Worth Initiative NGO of Sula Nuwamanya and Prossy Bonabana, continue to conduct mobilization activities, under the facilitation of the CMI,” Nduhungirehe said.
Mentioning names, Nduhungirehe said RNC operatives are facilitated by Col CK Asiimwe, the Deputy Head of CMI and Director of the Joint Anti-Terror Unit, among other high ranking Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) officers who include the head of unit Brig. Gen Abel Kandiho.
Nduhungirehe said that following the Ad Hoc Commission meeting held on December 13 last year in Munyonyo, the outcomes were reported verbatim by Nuwamanya and Bonabana on the social media, an indication of close collaboration between RNC and the Government of Uganda.
Nuwamanya, who previously lived and worked in Rwanda and Bonabana are active RNC activists on social media, consistently attacking the government of Rwanda.
“Charlotte Mukankusi, Commissioner in charge of diplomacy in the RNC terrorist organisation, visited again Uganda in January 2020, on RNC mission, to meet top officials of the Government of Uganda,”
“RNC Uganda Province, led by Pastor Deo Nyirigira and Dr Sam Ruvuma, continued its activities including recruitment, restructuring, mobilization, fundraising, forming new cells and committees in various parts of Uganda, especially in Kyangwari and Nakivale refugee camps, as well as Mityana,” Nduhungirehe said.
The Minister also said that Capt. Nshimiye a.k.a “Gavana”, who coordinated the Kinigi terror attack of the night of 3-4 October 2019, is still under the protection of Uganda security organs and is handled by the Minister of State for Regional Cooperation, Dr. Philemon Mateke.
Dr. Mateke has consistently been cited by Rwanda for supporting armed groups fighting the government of Rwanda.
Nduhungirehe said that Capt. Nshimiye freely frequents Kyangwari refugee camp where some of RUD-Urunana combatants and dependents are located.
“Nshimiye regularly travels to Kisoro to visit his wife and to meet Minister Mateke for briefings. In the same vein, Nzabonimana Fidèle, Kabayiza Seleman and Mugwaneza Eric, RUD Urunana operatives who participated in the Kinigi attack and reported to the Uganda authorities on 12th October 2019, are still protected by Uganda’s security organs from facing justice in Rwanda,” the Minister said.
In another revelation, Minister Nduhungirehe said that on February 02, the very day of the Quadripartite Summit in Luanda, a two-day meeting between the members of RNC and RUD-Urunana was held in Mbarara.
Nduhungirehe said that the Mbarara meeting was attended by, among others, Capt. Nshimiye, Col. Rugema Emmanuel, Col Sam, all representing RUD-Urunana, while ‘deserter’ Lt Frank Mushaija, Maj. Ntare, Capt Frank Mugisha a.k.a. “Sunday”, Jean Marie Vianney Turabumukiza and Maj Robert Higiro represented RNC.
“CMI dispatched vehicles that took Col Rugema and his delegation from Kisoro to Mbarara for the meeting. The purpose of this meeting was to forge plans to start a new RUD-RNC rebellion and intensify mobilization activities,” he said.
He said that there are still a number of Rwandan nationals detained in various illegal detention facilities in Uganda despite several notes verbales which were issued to the Government of Uganda, with details particulars of detainees and requesting for consular access.
“However, all those requests were never honoured. At the same time, Rwandan citizens are now dying due to sustained torture by operatives of Uganda’s CMI,”
“A recent sad example is that of one Emmanuel Mageza, 50 years old, who was tortured for more than a year in CMI barracks, recently died in Butabika Mental Hospital and hastily buried in Uganda. His family demands justice and the repatriation of his body for a decent burial,” he said.
Ugandans detained in Rwanda
Minister Nduhungirehe said there are 9 Ugandan citizens currently serving sentence for various crimes in Rwanda, but unlike Rwandans jailed in Uganda, they have been accorded consular access and are mentioned in a list Rwanda will provide to Uganda.
On his part, Minister Kutesa said that Uganda remains positive and with the expectation that the discussions between the two countries will lead to concrete results.
“Our approach and outlook to implementation is comprehensive, because we consider all elements of these undertakings equally important,” Minister Kutesa said, despite Rwanda’s concerns, Uganda has consistently demonstrated best intentions by the practical steps it has taken, claiming that Rwanda has not reciprocated.
On the list of Rwandans allegedly detained in Uganda, Kutesa said that Rwanda undertook to provide the list for verification, but regrettably that was never done.
“Nonetheless, we carried on and we have information on the names of persons allegedly detained on the basis of each of the Diplomatic Notes received,” he said, referring to the 9 Rwandans released at the beginning of the year.
“In line with the Luanda MOU and in the context of the normalization of relations between the two countries, as a gesture of goodwill, Uganda withdrew charges against nine Rwandans that were undergoing prosecution for various offences, including among others unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition,”
“On 8th January 2020, the nine individuals were handed over to immigration authorities in the presence of the Rwanda High Commissioner to Uganda for repatriation back to Rwanda,” Minister Kutesa said, adding that their release was not an indication of their innocence.
Despite the 9 individuals denying engaging in acts of espionage, Kutesa said that they were responsible for “very serious criminal offences in Uganda”.
“However, since Rwanda had made this a priority, the Government of Uganda exercised its sovereign authority to lift the charges and release them, with the hope that they will not come back to the country to carry on the same subversive activities,”
“I urge Rwanda to demonstrate the same spirit and address the concerns regarding the over 50 Ugandans detained in Rwanda,” he said.
Kutesa also seemed to deny the manner in which Rwandans are illegally deported and unceremoniously dumped at the border, despite hundreds of testimonies, including deprivation of personal property by Rwandans.
“On the issue of deportations, I wish to restate that deportations from Uganda are done in compliance with the law,”
“At our last meeting I dispelled the myth that Rwandans are just dumped at the border but elaborated the process from the time a deportation request is made, signed and the deportee is handed over,” he said, adding that Uganda would share evidence to confirm that deportees had been duly received by Rwandan officials.
On supporting armed groups, he said, Uganda has made a concrete proposal of joint verification to address what we consider serious allegations.
“Joint verification helps establish facts, build trust and confidence on both sides. I wish to underscore that the absence of a joint mechanism to verify allegations renders falsehoods to persist and makes follow-up of implementation difficult,” he said.
Rwanda rejected the proposal saying that meeting after meeting or different commissions without goodwill cannot deliver results.
Kutesa also expressed concerns over the border which he says remains closed. Rwanda maintains Uganda has made the issues about the border, shying away from actual issues raised by Rwanda.
Rwanda demanded that Kampala disbands RNC and RUD-Urunana networks in Uganda, and to arrest and extradite their members so that they can face justice in Rwanda.
Rwanda also demanded that Uganda refrains from all actions meant to destabilize her neighbour and eliminate all factors that may create such perception.
“To withdraw Ugandan Passport N° A000199979 that was issued by the Ugandan Government to Charlotte Mukankusi, Commissioner in charge of Diplomacy in the RNC terrorist organization,”
“To hold accountable facilitators of RNC and RUD-Urunana networks, including Minister of State Philemon Mateke, Brig Gen Abel Kandiho, Brig Gen Fred Karara, Col CK Asiimwe, Maj Fred Mushambo, Col Kaka Bagyenda and other government officials involved in the same activities,” Nduhungirehe said among other demands.
Rwanda also asked Uganda to repatriate the body of Emmanuel Mageza for a decent burial in Rwanda and to provide explanations about the circumstances surrounding his death.
“We also request for clarification about two other Rwandan citizens, namely Sendegeya Théogène and Rwembo Mucyo, who were allegedly transferred from CMI to Butabika Hospital and later got missing,” he said.
Rwanda also demanded that a Rwandan mother Julienne Kayirere be reunited with her child Joana Imanirakiza, who was abducted in Uganda after separating Kayirere from her one-month baby, when she was arrested on 29th November 2018 in Mubende District.
He also said that Uganda should unconditionally release all Rwandan citizens illegally detained in Uganda.