Home Main Stories Could the Queen Elizabeth National Park tourist kidnap be an inside job...

Could the Queen Elizabeth National Park tourist kidnap be an inside job by UPDF?

By Alex Muhumuza

On Friday, Uganda media outlets were awash with reports of about 40 Rwandans that were arrested in one of Uganda’s national parks, Queen Elizabeth National Park.

The individuals, arrested in Kasese near the Ugandan border with Democratic Republic of Congo, were mainly men and they were travelling in three mini-buses, reports say.

Despite reports saying that they are locked up in police cells, Vincent Mwesigye, the Regional Police Commander said he was not allowed to comment on the matter. He said the issue was being handled by “those at a senior level”, citing the army – Uganda People Defense Force (UPDF) – and specifically its notorious intelligence branch, CMI.

Sources who intimated to us revealed a deliberate plan by CMI, which has specifically been cited in facilitating Rwandans to join a rebel outfit in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to train as they continue to prepare to attack and destabilize Rwanda.

The recruits are channeled through Uganda with facilitation of CMI to join training bases in DRC, as established by a UN Mapping Report in December last year.

“In trying to analyze this scenario, one should not look further than the Kikagati incident where in 2017, a similar number was arrested on the Tanzanian border with Uganda headed for the same training camps,” a source said on condition of anonymity.

President Museveni himself confirmed knowledge of this during a joint press conference with President Kagame in Uganda earlier last year.

Our source further said that by trying to gag the local police that arrested the group, and blocking the media from seeing the suspects, they are deliberately avoiding the Kikagati debacle that was a smack in the face of CMI. Because of the attention the group got, the authorities in Uganda were forced to process them through courts but the case was later bungled and the suspects reportedly released.

“The less the world knows about the group, the better for them,” said the source.

The kidnap

In the kidnapping incident that happened early this week, on Tuesday and that is in international news, an American tourist and her driver were abducted in a wildlife park found in the same area: Queen Elizabeth National Park, the kidnappers have asked for a ransom of US$ 500,000, according to Uganda Police.

One of the lines of thought being pursued by analysts is that this could be an inside job by UPDF to create a scenario that the area is insecure, and hence take over the patrolling of the area from the police. This, the analysts say, will afford UPDF free reign to smuggle Rwandan recruits joining anti-Rwanda rebel training camps in neighboring DRC.

Information from sources that preferred anonymity indicates there is a hidden plot by UPDF to harm tourists in Rwanda. Interestingly, among the terror groups that are enjoying the backing of Uganda and the assistance of its military, especially CMI, there also is the so-called Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).

This same group, then going by the French acronym ALIR, in 1999 abducted and killed two American tourists in another park, the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. The US Justice Department indicted three members of ALIR in 2003.

For this attack, the group was listed on the list of global terrorist organisation where it remains. Later FDLR would ally itself with another terror group, Kayumba Nyamwasa’s Rwanda National Congress (RNC) and other outfits to form the so-called P5 under whose ambit the training camps in DRC operate.

FDLR leaders, LaForge Fils Bazeye its spokesperson and LTC Theophile Abega, its head of intelligence, were arrested on 17 December 2018 at Bunagana, on the DR, Uganda Border. They were coming for a meeting with RNC at Kampala Serena Hotel, which was chaired by Dr. Philemon Mateke, Uganda’s State Minister for Regional Co-operation.

That trip further revealed the levels to which Museveni’s Uganda has taken its alliance with FDLR and RNC. Kinshasa was to hand the two FDLR leaders to Rwanda, and they are providing vital information on the role of Uganda in support of their combined efforts with RNC, and the so-called “P5”, to destabilize Rwanda.

The activities of UPDF in alliance with these terror groups raises more questions on the safety not only of ordinary citizens, but tourists in the region.

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