July 2000: KIGALI, RWANDA: On the sixth anniversary of the Liberation of Kigali 04 July 2000, President Paul Kagame arrives at Amahoro Stadium. Behind him is former Chief of Staff, Gen. Nyamwasa and Police Chief then and Rwanda's High Commissioner to Kampala Gen. Mugambage.

By Milton Apuuli

Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa on Friday met diplomats accredited to Uganda to brief them on the status of the relationship between Uganda and its small neighbour Rwanda which has denied its own citizens the right to travel to Uganda on flimsy allegations that they are being mistreated security agencies in Uganda.

On Thursday, Kutesa had addressed journalists saying Rwanda was being provocative towards Uganda and indeed this is true especially when Rwanda prevents Uganda’s goods from entering its market and as well as sending its agents to do illegal activities in Uganda, including kidnaping and murdering those who are politically opposed to the Kigali regime many around the world see as ruthless.

Despite Rwanda’s allegations that Uganda mistreats its citizens, its citizens enjoy travelling to Uganda because they have friends and relatives who host them. Uganda as a country also welcomes any visitor as long as She/he abides by the set laws. Rwandans who have observed these laws are indeed enjoying life in Uganda, with a good number setting up businesses here but also getting employed as provided for by the East African Common Market Protocol. It is a bizarre that Rwandan political leaders who claim to be democratic can turn around to prevent their own citizens from travelling to Uganda to see their relatives and identify business opportunities.

Rwanda not interested in finding solution

Despite allegations by Rwanda that the Ugandan political leadership is not interested in providing a way forward to the tension between the two countries, Uganda has always been ready but the stubborn Rwandan leaders who think they can bring down Uganda are just adamant, always bringing up issues that they cannot substantiate, They are the cry-babies of the EAC region who think they are always right on anything, the reason they are being accused of assassinations of political opponents that escaped to live in other countries like South Africa and elsewhere.

Uganda not harbouring Rwandan rebels

Despite Rwanda’s allegations that Uganda has provided safe haven for those rebels opposed to Kigali, Uganda does not keep within its boundaries any rebels to cause havoc to its neighbours, given that Uganda is a peace-loving country contributing troops, for example to stabilise Somalia under AMISOM. Uganda has received international recognition for this effort and it seems this is a thorn in Rwanda’s flesh. President Trump has earmarked Uganda as one of the countries to visit in the near future. This is a big political statement within the EAC and it elevates Uganda’s status on the world political scene. Rwanda should learn to deal with its neighbours instead of peddling lies against them. In that way the leaders there will be able to grasp some knowledge as far as international relations is concerned. Uganda plays this very well especially when it is wrongfully accused by a neighbour that has no facts at hand to convince the world.

Rebels cannot use Uganda to launch activities

Yesterday Kutesa told diplomats that Uganda cannot allow its territory to be used to threaten the security of a neighbouring country, which is true because currently there is no any rebel group which has officially announced that they operate from Uganda or get political support from Uganda. Uganda does not have money to support such groups. The country is focused in developing its infrastructure like roads as well as boosting other sectors like agriculture, education, health as well as industrial development.

Rwanda accuses Uganda of hosting the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) which is not since President Yoweri Museveni said he received Charlotte Mukankusi and Eugene-Richard Gasana who had issues not related to rebellion.

Rwanda is also unhappy that its national Tribert Rujugiro, a prominent businessman who parted ways with Kagame regime is living in Uganda. Rujugira has denied accusations that he funds RNC and Rwandan government has no proof as well. The problem with the Kigali regime is that it wants to crush anybody that does not agree with it politically which is wrong. Gen. Nyamwasa Kayumba is a good example here. The late Karegeya is believed to have been murdered in South Africa by Rwandan security agents. The case of his murder is still ongoing.

Reports that there has open recruitment within Uganda of militants to attack Rwanda are outrageous and must be taken with the contempt they deserve. Rwanda should tell the world which Ugandan government officials are in charge of this activity and which part of Uganda is such recruitment happening. The Rwandan government is using this to deny their citizens to travel to Uganda.

No mistreatment of Rwandans

Another problem that Rwanda has raised with their Ugandan counterparts is the alleged continued mistreatment of Rwandan nationals on Ugandan territory. “For the past few years, Rwandans have continued to suffer abduction, torture, and illegal detention without due process,” Rwanda alleges, stating that 1,000 have been illegally deported to Rwanda with many released after lengthy incarceration by Ugandan security organs in ungazetted areas. Rwanda also alleges that hundreds of others continue to languish in those detention facilities.

But one asks the question, if Rwandans are being mistreated and tortured in Uganda, why do they come to Uganda? Why has government even gone ahead to stop them? The fact that government has stopped them means its citizens love coming to Uganda to see relatives, friends and do business. They don’t come here to do rebel activities, apart from agents sent by Kigali to do wrong to Uganda.

Stage managing events

Of course Rwanda has also stage managed events by presenting the so-called victims of torture. The so-called victims have been seen in the media recounting the suffering. This is laughable.

The Rwandan government alleges that it is the mistreatment of its nationals in Uganda that prompted leaders there to issue a travel warning to nationals against crossing into Uganda because their safety was not guaranteed. So what is happening to those Rwandans living in Uganda right now? Are they being tortured? We live with many Rwandans here in Uganda. They are our relatives, our friends, our business partners, our in-laws, our employers, our teachers, our nurses and the like. They are enjoying Uganda. And we love them and they are prospering. It is the care that Uganda gives Rwandans that threatens the Kigali regime.

Uganda only arrests wrong doers

Rwanda also claims that Uganda has arrested and kept in facilities run by Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) hundreds of Rwandans. This is false information. Those kept in the facilities were Rwandan agents sent to destabilise Uganda as well as hunt for Rwandans who politically don’t agree with the regime in Kigali. Such could not escape the laws that govern Uganda. No country in the world allows that. Let Rwanda tell us how many Ugandans it has arrested as agents of Museveni regime meant to look for those who oppose him (Museveni) from Kigali. The Rwandan regime must learn to live with its political opponents. Let the Rwandan regime tell the world how many political opponents of Museveni are living in the Diaspora with fear? For Rwanda they are many and bad enough some are products of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). I have not seen those who were in Museveni’s NRM disagree with him and then escape to live outside the country for fear of their lives. They are all here in Uganda. This could tell there is something wrong with the Kigali regime, which has the urge to kidnap and kill its opponents wherever they are.

Kagame threatening to kill Kikwete

Have Rwandans and the world forgotten that President Kagame himself a few years ago threatened to kill former Tanzanian President Jakaye Kikwete? The world has also not forgotten that Rwandan parochial ministers hurled insults at President Kikwete.

Apart from Rwanda, Uganda has many trading partners

On trade whether Rwanda allows Ugandan goods into their borders or not, Uganda has many neighbours it trades with and offer a bigger market. Kenya, Tanzania, DRC, South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia. The Europeans, Chinese, Indians, Americans are also trading with Uganda.