Uganda: Kigali Writes to Uganda Over Arrested Rwandan 'Spies'

Joseph Singirankabo (in red t-shirt), a relative to the man who was killed in Tabagwe Sector in Nyagatare District after he resisted arrest. His body was delivered by Ugandan officials including an area legislator at Gatuna Border Post on May 27, 2019.

Kampala — The Rwanda government has written to Uganda's Ministry of Foreign Affairs demanding to know the whereabouts of their two nationals, who were arrested in Rukiga District at the weekend, so that their home government can offer them consular services.

The Rwandan nationals, Mr Ishimwe Bosose, and Mr Peter Sanvura, were arrested by Ugandan security at a church in Kamwezi on suspicion that they had entered the country illegally on espionage mission.

"We have written to the ministry, we want to know where the two are being kept so that we offer them consular services," Rwandan Ambassador to Uganda Frank Mugambage told Daily Monitor yesterday.

We could not readily establish whether the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had received the Rwandan letter because our calls to the State Minister for Regional Cooperation, Mr Henry Oryem Okello, went unanswered.

Brig Richard Karemire, the Uganda People's Defence Forces spokesperson, declined to reveal the whereabouts of the Rwandan nationals but said they would be "managed."

A security source, who declined to be named, said the detained Rwandans were expected to be in Kampala last evening for interrogation.

In Katuna town on Monday, while receiving the body of a Rwandan national, John Batista Kyerengye, who was shot in Kamwezi by Rwandan soldiers last week, the Mayor of Rwanda's Nyagatare District, Mr Claudian Mushabe, who led the Rwandan delegation, asked Ugandan authorities to release the two Rwandans who had been arrested in Uganda.

"We are grateful to the Ugandan government for having bothered to bring the body of our Rwandan national who died that side. I appeal to the Ugandan government in the same spirit to bring to us all the Rwandan nationals that are currently detained in your security cells. Even yesterday [Sunday] you arrested two other Rwandans from Kamwezi in Rukiga District," Mr Mushabe said as he received Kyerengye's body from the Ugandan team at the border town in presence of foreign diplomats.

But a Uganda Security source said: "If they do not want us to arrest them, they should not send their spies down here. We know they are good at using the title of 'pastors' as a cover up. We shall arrest them and they will not see them."

The source said the two Rwandan nationals were security operatives, who were on an intelligence gathering mission in Kamwezi.

However, Ambassador Mugambage disputed the espionage claims.

"These are Rwandans who had come to visit a friend. They were at a baptism party," Ambassador Mugambage said.

Kampala and Kigali relations have been icy since February when Rwanda closed its border at Katuna and issued a travel advisory to its nationals not to enter Uganda.

"They come around to see whether we have deployed at the border but since we do not want to escalate the conflict, we pulled back our soldiers. They used to cross and kill people in our territory but we have said we shall not allow them to kill more people on our territory," the source added.

He described the shooting of John Batista Kyerengye (a Rwandan national) and Alex Nyesiga, a Ugandan, as acts of provocation by Rwandan security personel.

The source further said: "We shall care because Uganda does not kill its nationals. If they want to continue killing their nationals, let them kill them in their country, not in Uganda."

On May 2, a 41-year-old Rwandan businessman, Mr Innocent Ndahimana, was shot and injured on the right arm by a Rwandan security official as he tried to enter Uganda with about 500kgs of beans.

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