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UPDF increasing presence along Northern Province border prompts questions whether they are there to protect Ugandan smugglers

By Alain Mucyo

Ugandan misinformation media, especially websites run by the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI), have taken to tarnishing Rwanda with allegations that their security authorities “have arrested more Rwandans smuggling into Uganda.” Ugandan websites have been alleging that Rwandans smuggle cattle into Uganda, or that Rwandans cross to Uganda to drink waragi moonshine.

Facts on the ground however show that these are outright fictions.

Our investigative team went to parts of Northern Province bordering Uganda and discovered that drug dealers from the Ugandan side – desperate to make some money – have been camping ever closer to the Rwandan border. Others that make kanyanga are very nearby, utilizing water from the river separating the two countries in distillation of kanyanga. There is photographic evidence of this.

But even as Ugandan propagandists claimed that “UPDF was deploying more forces on the border to stop illegal immigration from Rwanda,” in fact it is Ugandan smugglers that were getting apprehended in bigger numbers than before. “Very many Ugandan smugglers are being apprehended, which has caused a steep decrease in smuggling, drug dealing, and illegal border crossing cases as per now,” said a Rwandan official.

Observers say the increasing desperation by members of Ugandan communities at the borders stem back to 1st March 2019, which was when Rwanda warned her citizens against crossing to Uganda. The reason, Kigali authorities said, was because of the rampant harassment of Rwandan nationals in Uganda by the country’s security forces.

These, most especially CMI, in executing a policy of hostility against Rwanda – started by Museveni in his plots to destabilize Rwanda through proxy groups like RNC – made Uganda a no-go area for Rwandan citizens. They harassed Rwandans with arbitrary arrests, illegal detentions, and torture.

So when Rwandans stopped crossing to Uganda, very many Ugandan traders or farmers lost market. “Ugandans are suffering because Museveni thought he could bully Rwanda!” a Facebook account recently commented.

With more Ugandans resorting to smuggling – which Museveni himself advised them to do – even their local authorities failed to caution them to desist from the criminal activity. Some would cross into Rwanda deep in the night with dangerous contraband, despite repeated warnings by Rwandan authorities. A few even recklessly chose violent confrontation with security patrols.

Our reporter in Northern Province wondered whether UPDF now is actually deploying more troops around that area so as to protect Ugandan smugglers.

“Rwandans are doing all their business in Rwanda, and none has been crossing ever since being warned that their safety and security couldn’t be guaranteed,” our reporter said. “Therefore it is a mystery why more UPDF troops are there,” he added.         

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