The Minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Kahamba Kutesa has poured cold water on claims by Kigali that Uganda arresting, torturing and harassing Rwandans as well as hosting negative groups of people fighting the tiny East African country.
In an interview with Rwanda’s The New Times last week, Dr Richard Sezibera, Kigali’s Foreign Affairs Minister and also government Spokesperson said they opted to block their nationals from traveling to Uganda alleging continuous arrests, harassment, torture, illegal incarceration without consular access, deportation among others of its citizens.
He also said, “We’ve raised this issue with the Government of Uganda, that there are armed groups, individuals who head armed groups that are opposed to the Government of Rwanda, that have a violent agenda towards Rwanda who operate in Uganda; the RNC, some members of the FDLR, and so on and so forth…these are groups that have carried out (criminal) acts here in Rwanda and are based in Uganda.”
However, in a March 5, 2019 statement, Kutesa said, “Rwanda knows this very well as it has been a matter of confidential communication at the highest level of the two countries. Uganda does not and cannot allow anyone to operate from its territory that threatens a neigbour as alleged.”
He noted that Uganda as a country is fully aware that its development and transformation cannot take place without peace and security in the region.
“It’s for this reason that Uganda has continued to champion closer collaboration and coordination within regional frameworks like EAC, ICGLR, IGAD and even at the continental level.”
On the issue of arrests and torture of Rwandans, the minister said it was also not true because, “It is well known that Uganda welcomes and maintains an open door policy for people of all nationalities, including Rwandans wishing to visit Uganda.”
Kutesa further noted it is not by mistake that the Pearl of Africa continues to be the largest refuge host country in the continent.
However, the minister revealed that they expect all visitors to Uganda including Rwandans to remain law abiding because those who act contrary are dealt with in accordance with the law.
“Therefore anyone including Rwandans visiting Uganda have nothing to fear if they are law abiding” said Kuteesa.
Adding, “As a country that has been a target of terrorist attacks with the assassinations of moslem sheikhs, State Attorney Joan Kagezi and Member Of Parliament Hon Ibrahim Abiriga and others, we remain vigilant. In this regard, the Government of Uganda remains committed to protecting the security of its citizens and its borders and will act accordingly against local or foreign threats.”
The minister’s statement in one way or the other brings to light, claims that Kigali deploys spies in Uganda who are also infiltrating its security organs.
On the other hand, Kutesa also said that Rwanda’s move to block the Katuna-Gatuna border “Harms our economies and social interaction and also threatens our integration efforts under the East African Community, which we have all worked hard to build.
“Rwanda is a brotherly country and Uganda remains ready to address any issues in order to strengthen our bilateral relations and cooperation.”