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American tourist to blame for kidnap, says minister

American tourist Ms. Kimberly Sue Endicott and a Senior Tour Guide, Jean-Paul Mirenge- Remezo, were kidnapped Tuesday, April 2 in Queen Elizabeth National Park. (FILE PHOTO)

KAMPALA – Following the kidnap of the American tourist Ms. Kimberly Sue and her Ugandan guide, Mr. Jean Paul Mirenge by suspected criminals in Queen Elizabeth National Park last week, government has revealed plans to start providing security to tourists that visit places where the country’s borders are porous to avert such scenarios from occurring again.

The pronouncement was made by Lt. Col. (Rtd.) Dr. Rwamirama Bright, the State Minister for Veteran Affairs in the Ministry of Defence while appearing before the Defense and Internal Affairs Committee where MPs questioned the army on the recent kidnap of the two.

In his response, Mr. Rwamirama blamed the tourist for the kidnap saying she refused to move with security in the park but says that going forward they plan to accord security to tourists in areas where the country has borders which are not well guarded.

The minister explained: “Where the American was abducted had a UPDF detach but the people who were guiding the tourist weren’t interested in security. Had they wanted security, they would have provided it to them but them not wanting security is what caused the abduction, maybe the tourist and her tour guide wouldn’t have been kidnapped.”

“Now we have put a new arrangement in areas next to the borders like DRC where there are killings. Each tourist car will have Police to protect the tourists,” Mr. Rwamirama added.

Hon. Lt. Col. (Rtd.) Dr. Rwamirama Bright the State Minister for Veteran Affairs (PHOTO/File)

When asked by journalists to explain how the army came to know the tourist had declined security, an irritated Rwamirama fired back: “Do you think Police has been seated and didn’t carry out investigations?”

The minister’s remarks come at the time when Ms. Sue was released and later handed over to the United States Mission in Uganda after calls by US President Donald Trump tasked Uganda to arrest the people behind the kidnap of the US citizen. “Uganda must find the kidnappers of the American tourist and guide before people will feel safe in going there. Bring them to justice openly and quickly!” read President Trump’s statement on his twitter handle.

Mr. Trump’s tweet was in total disregard of President Yoweri Museveni’s assurance that Uganda was safe for tourists to visit after being briefed about the rescue of an American tourist and her Ugandan guide.

Mr. Museveni had told the world: “We shall deal with these isolated pockets of criminals. However, I want to reassure the country and our tourists that Uganda is safe and we shall continue to improve the security in our parks. Come and enjoy the Pearl of Africa.”

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