27 May 2019

Uganda, Rwanda in Talks Over Border Shootings

Kampala — Ugandan officials and their Rwandan counterparts are in diplomatic discussions to defuse the border tensions following the recent incident where a Rwandan soldier shot two people dead on the Ugandan side of the border.

Ambassador Patrick Mugoya, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the two governments are in diplomatic talks to avert escalation of the situation.

"Yes, we are engaging them in diplomacy. That's why we wrote the protest letter. We don't think the incident can escalate. We are engaging them so that we get a peaceful solution," Ambassador Mugoya said.

He said though Rwanda responded to Uganda's protest letter "in their own way," Uganda is not bothered and will continue to pursue peace with all the neighbours.

"We have no problem and therefore we shall continue to use all the peaceful means to resolve these issues as we have done before," he added.

The residents of South western district of Rukiga, on Friday witnessed the gruesome murder of two people, one a Rwandan and another, a Ugandan who were gunned down by a Rwandan soldier. The incident happened at Hamisavu Trading Centre at Kiruhura Village, Kashekye Parish in Kamwezi sub-county on the Ugandan side.

Killed

A Ugandan Nyesiga Alex, and a Rwandan Kyerengye John Batista, were reportedly gunned down by the Rwandan soldier, 50 metres inside Uganda after resisting arrest.

The trouble reportedly happened when Karengye aged 25, a resident of Nkoma Cell, Ntarabwe Parish, Burasirazooba Sub-county in Nyagatare attempted to cross back into Rwanda on a motorcycle loaded with merchandise from Uganda. He turned back upon seeing Rwandan security across the border. The Rwandan soldiers pursued him and intercepted him about 50 metres inside Ugandan territory at Hamisavu Trading Centre.

"The victim (Karengye) resisted arrest and was shot in the head and died instantly. The armed soldiers in addition, shot Nyesiga Alex, a Ugandan national, who tried to intervene. He died on the way to a nearby health centre. The Rwandan soldiers retreated to Rwanda after failed attempts to forcibly remove Karengye's body from Ugandan territory," a diplomatic note sent by Uganda to Rwanda states.

Foreign Affairs

Officials in the Foreign Affairs ministry said the Uganda government is ready to hand over the body of the deceased Rwandan national today at Katuna border. The source said the body will be handed over to Rwandans official in the presence of US and UK diplomats.

"The government of Uganda protests in the strongest terms the violation of its territorial integrity by Rwandan soldiers and the criminal, brutal and violent act by the Rwandan soldiers, on Ugandan territory, against unarmed civilians.

"The ministry demands that action be taken against the perpetrators of this attack. The Government of Rwanda is strongly urged to take appropriate measures to avoid recurrence of such provocative incidents in the future," the protest letter by Uganda's foreign affairs ministry states.

Rwanda responds

However, the Rwandan government disputed the claims by Uganda, saying the alleged shooting happened inside Rwanda after the soldiers were attacked by people wielding machetes.

"The suspect resisted and turned violent, and was joined by others who attacked the officers with machetes, while attempting to flee back to Uganda. The officers shot dead two people, one Rwandan who died instantly and one Ugandan who later died. Once the gang had crossed back over the border to Uganda, no further action was taken by the patrol," Rwandan police said in a statement.

The Rwandan government said contrary to the communique issued by the Ugandan spokesperson and some media reports, the incident happened in Rwanda.

FROSTY RELATIONS

The two countries have had frosty relations following counter accusations of supporting rebels against either country. Rwanda has since February closed its borders with Uganda, engaging in verbal offensive against Uganda, with the later seemingly taking a laid-back approach.

President Museveni and his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame were made to sit close to each other during the swearing-in of the South African president Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday. It' not clear if they talked about the current tensions between the two neighbouring countries.

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