KAMPALA – The Rwandan High Commissioner to Uganda, Maj Gen (Rtd) Frank Mugambage, has said the Uganda government has continued to effect “multiple unjustified arrests” of Rwanda citizens.
Maj Gen Mugambage also claimed that the Kampala government has failed to investigate terror groups working within Uganda with plans to attack Rwanda.
“The cases we have put before the (Uganda authorities) of Rwandans that have been arrested and when families come to us that our people have been arrested, we do not know where they are and their cases. It is important that we resolve this. Even cases of terrorists elements I have mentioned it to them so it’s important that we follow up,” he said.
He made the remarks during Rwanda’s 24th liberation celebrations held at his residence in Kololo on Wednesday evening.
The Rwandan High Commissioner insisted that the arrests have continued without notifying the Kigali government.
“I am being open about it like I have been to the authorities that I corroborate with. The cases are still there and these cases need to be followed,” he said.
His remarks came days after Ugandan authorities in Kabale district intercepted and repatriated about 72 Rwandan nationals for illegal entry and lack of documentation. The Rwandese, who included 11 children, 20 women and 41 men, were intercepted at Muhanga Town Council in an operation led by the Rukiga Resident District Commissioner, Mr Emmy Ngabirano. They were then ordered to present documents to show that they qualify to be in Uganda.
However, 72 had no travel documents and were escorted to Katuna border and ordered to return to their country. Some of those arrested told the security officials that they were coming to for causal jobs in different districts of western Uganda.
Maj Gen Mugambage added that despite the arrests, his government will continue using diplomatic channels to resolve the matter.
“Some terrorist groups target Rwanda,” he said, adding, “These are issues that are being discussed and talked about through these channels (diplomacy),” he said
“Rwanda has used the same channels to raise concepts and called for immediate remedy, multiple unjustified arrests, and failure to notify the diplomatic representation of Rwanda in Uganda,” Maj Gen Mugambage added.
Minister for Public Service Muruli Mukasa, however, insisted that Uganda and Rwanda share the same historical bond and they will always resolve their matters amicably.
“Even when our respective citizens face some challenges, our two governments are committed to resolve them. We recognize the efforts that the Joint Commissioners have put in to build this bi-lateral relationship,” Mr Mukasa said.
This comes on the backdrop of strained relations between Uganda and Rwanda prompted by accusations from Kigali that its citizens were being kidnapped, detained and prosecuted by Kampala security officials.
In May, this website reported that two senior police officers were being held by the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) for allegedly setting free 13 Rwandan nationals who entered the country illegally.
The two were Isingiro DPC Richard Erimu Okiror and the CID officer, Mr Charles Ndamanyire, who had been in detention since March 30.
PML Daily had learnt that the two police officers commanded the arrest of the refugees who entered the country in May through Kisoro.
Sources added that the police officers handed the group to the immigration office in Mbarara for verification of their travel documents.
It is said that the refugees were taken to Oruchinga Refugee Settlement Camp in Isingiro and their files were handed to Isingiro Police Station for investigations.
The officers reportedly decided to set the Rwandans free after finding their documents authentic.
However, sources said, CMI officers were infuriated on learning that the group had been released.
CMI later summoned the RPC, Mr Robert Walugembe, and the police officers to explain on what grounds they released the foreigners.
At the end of the meeting, the police officers were arrested and have been held ever since. CMI operatives also arrested Amos Kiriya, the commandant of Oruchinga Refugee Settlement Camp and an Immigration Officer, Mr Carthbert Washaba, from Mbarara.
Late last year, Kigali wrote a protest note to Kampala, questioning the Uganda authorities’ decision to arrest some of its citizens, including Rene Rutangugira, Gisele Gatsinzi and James Bayingana.
However, in March, President Museveni and his Rwanda counterpart Paul Kagame held talks and blamed the recent tensions between the two countries on lack of information sharing and cooperation among their intelligence chiefs.
Addressing a joint media briefing shortly after holding talks at State House Entebbe on Sunday, March 25, the two leaders emphasized that the reported breakdown in diplomatic relations between their countries is misconstrued and pledged to strengthen cooperation.
“There’s no fundamental conflict between Rwanda and Uganda, we don’t even have a border problem like that of Kenya. We discussed that issue (on Rwandan citizens being harassed) and the solution is close cooperation,” President Museveni said.
President Kagame said: “There are so many things said out of context; we have agreed to have institutions on both sides (Uganda and Rwanda) work together to go deep down into the matter and get the right information.”
The two leaders pledged to share information on any matters affecting their citizens.
Mr Museveni also accused his officials of not working with their Rwanda counterparts on amicably resolving some issues.
“You find a minister finds it very difficult to telephone another minister in Rwanda. I think we need a course in telephoning,” he said.
Mr Kagame said: “It is always a pleasure for me to visit Uganda. Every time we meet is an opportunity to strengthen our friendship, fraternity and its our people going to benefit on what we can do together.”
The two leaders also emphasized that the countries need each other to develop.