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Kisoro leaders call for release of detained Ugandan businessman in Rwanda

Rwanda President Paul Kagame meets Uganda’s Gen Kainerugaba Muhoozi last year in Kigali as relations between the two countries thawed. FILE PHOTO
Kisoro, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Kisoro district authorities have protested the prolonged detention of Ugandan Valence Kibyeye, a  prominent fabrics dealer in Rwanda. They have asked President Paul Kagame to intervene.

According to Kisoro authorities, Kibyeye, who deals in African Fabrics alias “Bitenge” was arrested and detained in Rwanda about two and a half years ago for alleged tax evasion.

The officials argue that there is no clear information on how Kibyeye’s case is progressing since his arrest. John Muftimukiza, the Nyarusiza Sub-county LC V councilor, says that the continued detention of Kibyeyi has enraged the people of Kisoro aginst the Rwandan government. According to Muftimukiza, Rwanda has no reason to continue detaining a person from another country without giving updates about the matter.

He wants Rwandan president Kagame to intervene and order Kibyeye’s release. Amos Hakizimana, the Kisoro District speaker, says that the continued detention of Kibyeye in Rwanda is testimony of how Ugandans are mistreated by shooting, arrest, and whipping whenever they cross to trade in Rwanda.

Hakizimana wants the Ugandan government to intervene and talk to the Rwandan government to release Kibyeye.

Abel Bizimana, the Kisoro District LC 5 Chairperson says that when Kibyeye was arrested, they expected the Rwandan authorities to present him before the court, which is yet to happen to date. Bizimana says that Kibyeyi’s four children are suffering alone at home without care because his wife died about three months back.

Eddie Kwizera Wagahungu, the Bukimbiri county member of parliament, says that he has already petitioned Uganda’s Foreign Affairs minister for intervention. However, when contacted, the Foreign Affairs State Minister, Henry Oryem Okello, said that he is not aware of the matter. He promised to follow up on the matter with the relevant authorities in Uganda and Rwanda.

Kibyeye is not the first Ugandan to face the wrath of Rwandan authorities since the closure of the border in 2019 to January 2022 on orders from president Paul Kagame. He accused Ugandan authorities of spying on Rwanda, abducting Rwandan citizens and locking them up in non-designated areas, as well as hosting and facilitating dissidents who have declared war on the Kigali administration.

The latest case happened on January 17, 2023, at the Uganda-Rwanda border of Nyakisa hill in Mpororo village, Kashekye parish in Kamwezi sub-county, Rukiga district where Rwandan operatives crossed about 50 meters on Ugandan soil and shot dead Jack Turyahikayo alias Rwakigizi accusing him of smuggling.

The operatives carried the deceased’s body back to Rwanda. On handing it over to Ugandan authorities, Rwandan officials led by Stephen Gasana, the Mayor of the Nyagatare district, and Jean Bosco Dusengimana, the Nyagatare District Police Commander argued that Turyahikayo was shot from the Tabarwe sector in Nyagatare district while smuggling when he turned violent.

However, Ugandan officials and locals led by Fred Nayebare Kyamuzigyita, the Rukiga Resident District Commissioner his deputy, Zadock Kamusiime, Hussein Niwagaba, the Rukiga District Police Commander, Robert Mbabazi Kakwerere, Rukiga District LC5 Chairman and Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Sabitti, Commanding Officer of the 33 Uganda Peoples Defense Forces (UPDF) battalion Irenga rejected the narrative. They accused Rwandan authorities of repeatedly using the same reason to shoot Ugandans without providing any evidence.


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