13 March 2018

East Africa: Rwanda Promises Not to Return 'Evil Treatment' to Uganda

Photo: The Observer
Rwandan minister of foreign affairs Louise Mushikiwabo

The Rwandan minister of Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo has said that her government is saddened by the recent behaviour of its neighbour, Uganda over the treatment of Rwandan nationals.

In a press briefing today, Tuesday, Mushikiwabo said Rwanda will not reciprocate illegal detentions, deportations and torture subjected to Rwandan nationals to Ugandan nationals living in Rwanda.

According to Kigali Today (KT Press), Rwanda will instead continue to engage the Ugandan authorities on how to resolve the issues at hand.

"We share a lot in common with Ugandans. We share the same blood. Rwandans cannot hurt Ugandans," Mushikiwabo is quoted as saying.

Adding; "The problems between the two countries definitely affected the implementation of some regional projects. But there's continued diplomatic push to ensure they are realised....We hope that these problems will eventually pass and our ties normalise. There is a lot that bind us together."

There has been rising tensions between the two East African countries since last year. The tensions even led to the closure of a Ugandan tabloid, Red Pepper in November 2017 after it reported that Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, with the help of his brother Gen Salim Saleh were plotting to overthrow Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

Both countries have since detained several of each other's citizens believed to be spies or crossed the borders illegally. On December 28 last year, 45 Rwandans were charged for terrorism before Mbarara Grade One magistrate Daphine Ayebale who remanded them to Mbarara Central Prison.

The group had spent over two weeks at Nalufenya detention facility in Jinja following their arrest at Kikagati border point in Isingiro district.

As the 45 were being arraigned before court, another group of five Rwandan nationals - Freddy Turatsinze, Jessica Muhongerwa, Vanessa Gasaro, Dianne Kamikazi and Herbert Munyangaju - was being deported.

The families of the detained Rwandan nationals threatened to sue Uganda's Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) Gen David Muhoozi over what they term as illegal detention.

When Uganda Museveni sacked former police chief Gen Kale Kayihura a fortnight ago, it was suggested by some sections in government that one of the reasons was because Kayihura was spying for Rwandan government.

A few days later while addressing the nation on International Women's Day, Museveni said police had been "infiltrated by bean weevils", a statement some thought was in reference to Rwandan spies.

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