KAMPALA – The Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) has dismissed talk that Gen. Salim Saleh is a shareholder in Rwanda businessman Tribert Rujugiro’s tobacco companies.
In a statement released on Wednesday, March 27, Registrar General Mr. Bemanya Twebaze says “…..some individuals are peddling misinformation about the status and shareholding in Leaf Tobacco & Commodities Ltd; and Meridian Tobacco Company Ltd.”
“Leaf Tobacco & Commodities Ltd is registered as a foreign-owned Company, while Meridian Tobacco Company Ltd is incorporated as a foreign Company owned by two persons, none of whom is Gen. Caleb Akandwanaho Salim Saleh, rtd.”
Business magnate Rujugiro is one of the Rwandan citizens that have since fallen out with President Paul Kagame, and are now at the centre of the diplomatic row between Uganda and Rwanda, with Mr. Kagame accusing his neighbours of funding activities against his regime.
Rwandan government-owned daily, The New Times, reported in wake of the current row that Mr. Rujugiro offered shares to top Ugandan military and government officials, notably Gen. Salim Saleh, a younger brother to President Museveni to cement his relationship with Ugandan authorities despite the concerns raised by Kigali administration.
The claim has however been entirely rebutted by URSB saying “Gen. Saleh is not and has never been a shareholder nor a Director in the said two Companies.”
Mr. Twebaze, in a statement, adds that the two entities are corporate bodies, registered/incorporated under the Companies Act, laws of Uganda, as limited liability Companies.
Mr. Rujugiro is the man behind the Meridian Tobacco Company, a $20 million (Shs 72 billion) operation which opened in the West Nile town of Arua last year.
The Arua plant is a subsidiary of Pan-African Tobacco group, the manufacturers of Supermatch cigarettes.
The Kigali regime accuses Mr. Rujigiro of key among others; supporting Rwandan dissidents to recruit rebels to join a military offensive against Rwanda, leading to tensions between the two countries.
Mr. Rujugiro is said to have switched some of his investments to Uganda in 2013 after he fell out with Rwanda president Paul Kagame.
A former close associate, Mr. Rujugiro was part of the 12-man presidential advisory council Mr. Kagame named in 2009, headed by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Rwanda administration has asked Uganda to among others shut Mr. Rujugiro’s business, arrest and handle over him to Rwanda, a suggestion Uganda has since trashed.
Mr. Rujigiro also demanded proof from Kigali administration accusing him of indeed fanning activities designed to destabilise Rwanda.
President Museveni in a letter to his Rwandan counterpart Mr. Kagame admitted that he interacted with Rwandan dissidents and fugitives but vehemently denied helping them to destabilize the East African smallest country.
Among the other dissidents at the centre of the row include Tribert Rujugiro and Charlotte Mukankusi, the Head of Diplomacy of Rwanda National Congress (RNC), an organization Kigali claims is behind the spate of grenade attacks in Kigali between 2010 and 2013 that killed several Rwandans and injured many more.
But Mr. Museveni, in the same letter chided Rwanda intelligence operatives for trying to deal with alleged Rwandan dissidents by working behind the Ugandan intelligence services.
“What is wrong is for Rwandan agents to try to operate behind the government of Uganda. I get a lot of stories, but I will never raise them unless I have confirmed them,” Mr. Museveni concluded in his letter.