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Minister Mateke rubbishes links to Rwandan attackers

FILE PHOTO: Philemon Mateke

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT  | Philemon Mateke, the State Minister for regional affairs has described as rubbish a claim by Rwanda that he was in contact with an armed group that launched an attack inside Rwanda on October 3, 2019.

The claim was tabled last Friday in the Kampala meeting between Uganda and Rwanda as evidence that the country was supporting groups that want to overthrow the Kigali administration.

The claim was repeated in a lengthy interview in which Oliver Nduhungirehe, the country’s State Minister for the East African Affairs, stated that the attackers had left phones at the scene showing contact with Mateke. The interview was published in the New Times Rwanda today, Wednesday, December 18, 2019.

The attack referred happened in Kinigi sector, Musanze district, near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and attracts tourists because of its Volcanoes National Park and the presence of the world’s last mountain gorillas. Up to 14 people lost their lives and 16 others sustained injuries during the same attack, in which attackers used machetes and hammers.

“The evidence gathered from the crime scene, including phone handsets, from assailants which showed that they were in coordination with Uganda’s State Minister for Regional Affairs Philemon Mateke,” Nduhungirehe said.

In earlier interviews, John Bosco Kabera, the Rwandan police spokesman is quoted saying that the group belong to a militia called RUD-Uranana, a splinter group of the notorious Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), a militia founded by Hutu extremists partly responsible for the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Today, Nduhungirehe said that Mateke was in contact with a one Nshimiye alias governor, the head of special forces of RUD-Urunana.

But Sounding rather dismayed, Mateke spoke to URN on phone, posing rhetorical questions: “Am I their citizen? Am I a mercenary?”

The 76-year-old minister even went bare knuckles, saying that when “officials in Rwanda want to eliminate someone they start accusing them of such”, adding that those accusing him have been known for “eliminating people”.

From last week’s meeting, it looks like Rwanda and Uganda are not anywhere near resolving their dispute.  Officials from both countries have referred the matters to Presidents Yoweri Museveni and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame to handle after they failed.

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