Museveni’s official attacks Rwanda’s Minister with string of false claims

By Peter Muhumuza

An article published on Wednesday November 21 by the Ugandan news website Chimpreports says, “The government of Uganda has urged Rwanda ‘to always communicate its concerns through the rightful diplomatic channels.’”

The website was quoting the permanent secretary at the Uganda Ministry of Foreign Affairs one Ambassador Patrick Mugoya who was speaking in response to Rwandan Foreign Minister Richard Sezibera’s observation that relations with Uganda were complicated.

The remarks of Minister Sezibera in a press conference on Tuesday stressed the fact that Rwanda is willing to normalize relations with any neighbor, but that for some reason some of these neighbors preferred ‘to close their door’.

“Rwanda has been willing to normalize relations with neighboring countries but some are refusing to reciprocate, which undermines sustainable peace in the region,” said Mr. Sezibera.

Read: Uganda and Burundi court new rebel group against Rwanda

He told the journalists that, “for Rwanda and Uganda relations aren’t ‘that good’ for reasons that you know and we are not responsible for either; some Rwandans are threatened on the other side, other issues are caused by people tending to harm our country.”

Sezibera among other things talked of cases of “Rwandans travelling to Uganda who have been facing violence while suspected criminals have been finding refuge there”.

It was while responding to Sezibera’s remarks that Mugoya lectured Rwanda that “it should always raise issues through the right diplomatic channels.”

The Ugandan official in his remarks seemed to forget that for the last few years Rwanda has been doing exactly what he lectures it should do.

Media reports have been reporting incidences when Rwanda, through its diplomatic mission in Uganda, has been protesting the harassment, arresting and holding incommunicado, and torture by Ugandan state operatives, most notably the CMI and ISO.

The East African newspaper, one of the most credible publications in the region, ran an article on Saturday, 23 December 2017 that published the following quote from a diplomatic note from Rwanda to Uganda.

“The Republic of Rwanda wishes to call the highest attention by Ugandan authorities, and request remedy without delay to the following: multiple unjustified arrests; failure to notify the diplomatic representation of Rwanda in Uganda, and mistreatment of Rwandan citizens in Uganda in the last several months, a diplomatic note seen by The East African reads in part.’”

Read: Uganda security tortures and deports another Rwandan

News organizations throughout the region have been reporting about the several times when the High Commissioner of Rwanda to Uganda, Frank Mugambage has written similar letters to the Government of Uganda. Cases of Rwandans being picked up by security operatives in Kampala with methods described by the victims as “abduction” have been reported again and again.

The most recent example is that of Rwandan businessman Patrick Niyigena. Unidentified Ugandan agents just last month on the eighth picked near Kampala’s Owino Market as he was whiling away the time before boarding a bus to Nairobi where he was to buy refrigerator parts.

Niyigena narrated his terrible ordeal about how the plain clothes, armed operatives forced him to board their black tinted vehicle, giving him no chance to call anyone, and took him to a safe house where they torture him.

After said the men took his money, amounting to US$ 2400, interrogated him, making him sleep without a mattress in a small, dark, cold room. He suffered this torture for three days, during which the operatives injected an unknown substance in his arm. Afterwards they released him rudely, telling him to “go report his case to Rwanda”.

Read: Prosecution to move against Kayumba’s South Africa based terror network

Operatives of Uganda’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) and Internal Security Organisation (ISO) have treated very many Rwandans in a manner similar, or even much worse to this.

On 23 September 2017 Bayingana James, Nsekanabo Ali Lando and Byaruhanga Nduwamungu Vianney were taken into detention in Bukasa by CMI. As usual with CMI or ISO nothing was done in the normal channels.

It was just a bunch of fellows turning up in a car with their guns, barking at the men to get into the car – showing no arrest warrant or any document – and taking them to a torturous custody.

Soon after the abduction of the three Rwandans another one, Fidele Gatsinzi was picked in a similar manner by CMI and detained. That happened on 9 November 2017, when Gatsinzi was in Kampala to visit his son who studies at Uganda Christian University in Mukono.

CMI detained Gatsinzi for two weeks at its headquarters, as he himself told it, and tortured him, after which they dumped him at the Gatuna border, injured and unable to walk on his own. There are very many stories like that.

Any research on whether Rwanda has retaliated against Ugandan citizens in any way similar reveals not a single incident. The outgoing foreign minister of Rwanda Louise Mushikiwabo in March this year reiterated, “Rwanda will not reciprocate illegal detentions, deportations and torture subjected to Rwandan nationals, to any Ugandan national living or visiting Rwanda.”

Mugoya the permanent secretary of the Ugandan Foreign Ministry makes another remark, that when the Rwandan minister complains of harassment and torture of Rwandans, “he is entitled to his opinion”.

Sezibera in the press conference was noting verifiable facts on the ground that several reputable media houses have reported, not voicing mere opinions.

Mugoya also went ahead to state – in response to the charge that Rwandan criminals are finding sanctuary in Uganda – that “if Rwanda has information about these people’s criminal records, let them share it with us.”

According to several news reports, Rwanda has given Uganda detailed proof that the terrorist RNC group of Kayumba Nyamwasa, which among other things is the author of grenade blasts in Kigali, has found sanctuary in Uganda.

Mugoya’s statements are in contrast to that of his own President Yoweri Museveni. The Ugandan leader himself, when provided incontestable proof of the presence of RNC recruitment in Uganda, had no choice but to acknowledge the presence of RNC in his country.

According to a report published in The Standard of Kenya on Monday, 2 July this year when Museveni was asked – during a joint press conference he held with President Kagame earlier in March – whether he knew of the 45 recruits for the RNC terror group of Kayumba Nyamwasa, the Ugandan leader said he was aware of that.

These people were apprehended in a by now infamous incident at the Kikagati border post with Tanzania, travelling on fake Ugandan travel documents that – upon interrogation by border police – they confessed it was CMI that had facilitated them to get the papers. The 45 men further confessed that they were en-route to RNC training camps in Minembwe, DRC, via Burundi.

Read also: One year on, the harassment of Rwandans in Uganda persists with no end in sight

The Standard quoted Museveni saying: “A group of Banyarwanda was being recruited through Tanzania and Burundi to go to Congo. They said they were going for church work, but when they were interrogated it was found the work wasn’t exactly religious. It was something else.”

That was classic President Museveni when confronted with the truth; he will acknowledge it then turn around to do something completely contrary to his words. The same newspaper would in a follow up article report that the same terror recruits had mysteriously been released by a court in Mbarara, when everyone’s attention was turned to other things.

Chimpreports also claims that its investigations show “several Ugandan and Rwandan officials in the intelligence and armed forces have personal scores to settle”, “undermining efforts to normalize relations between the two countries.

Nowhere in its report does Chimpreports say who these officers are, their ranks or any other detail. It is an allegation they support with nothing.

On the other hand observers raise the question: if there indeed are “personal issues” between some security officials, how does that in any way justify harassment, torture, abductions and mistreatment that Ugandan intelligence agencies have inflicted on Rwandan citizens? Or the fact not a single Ugandan citizen has suffered even once what CMI and ISO has done to Rwandans?

Every fact contradicts the latest Chimpreports article on Rwanda, and everything that Mugoya claims or says.

Rwanda has for instance presented evidence to Uganda that there are at least up to 250 perpetrators of the 94 Genocide Against the Tutsi, leaving in Uganda, and that some of them have even joined local political activity in Uganda.

Over to you, Ambassador Mugoya!