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Uganda releases 13 more Rwandans

Rwandan nationals who have been released from prison in Uganda sit during a press conference by a representative of the Rwanda High Commission to Uganda and Uganda’s minister of Foreign Affairs in Kampala on February 18, 2020.  PHOTO AFP

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Government has released 13 more Rwandan nationals detained on crimes related to threatening national security.

This brings to 22, the number of Rwandan nationals released by Uganda and immediately deported to their country.

The Foreign Affairs Minister, Sam Kutesa,, says the release of the Rwandan nationals is part of Uganda’s effort to normalize relation with her neighbor that fell apart at the beginning of last year, leading to the closure of Gatuna border.

The release of the Rwandans comes three days to the next Quadripartite Heads of State meeting meant to take place this Friday, February 21, at the Gatuna-Katuna One Stop Border Post.

President Yoweri Museveni met his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame in Angola recently to try and thrash-out their disagreements. The two president signed a memorandum of understanding that among others obliged the two countries to form an Ad hoc committee on the implementation of the MOU.

The committee comprises the Internal and Foreign Affairs Ministers, Attorney Generals and Intelligence services of both countries. The committee has met twice in Rwanda and once in Uganda. It’s these meetings that have led to the freeing of prisoners from both countries.

Those released are divided into three categories and include those deported for espionage but later returned to Uganda and arrested again. They are Ntirushwa Maboko, Habomugisha Jean Bosco, Ukwigezi Narcise. These have been released with their spouses. The third category includes those arrested for engaging in criminal activities repeatedly.

Ambassador Ayebare briefs the press, flanked by Foreign Affairs Minister Kutesa.

They are Penzi Eric, Abokuremeye Alphonse, Gitifu Bosco, Mugisha John Bosco and Ngaruye Jotham. Kutesa said the release of the 13 doesn’t in anyway mean they are innocent.

Kutesa also revealed that 15 Ugandans have also been set free from Rwandan jails. He said currently there are 39 Rwandans who are still in Ugandan prisons. For his part, Noel Mucyo, the First Chancellor at the Rwandan High Commission in Uganda who received the 13 former detainees, said his government was determined to fully implement the MOU that they signed.

He dispelled allegations that Rwanda continues to fuel the conflict through public utterances even by their president. “I’m not aware of any propaganda negative to Uganda, but we continue to see negative propaganda from Ugandan Media outlets,” Mucyo said.

When asked about Ugandans and Rwandans killed at the border, Mucyo said those killed were smugglers who were trying to enter the country through ungazetted border points. For the one year that the Rwandan border with Uganda has remained closed, Kutesa said, businesses and families and the East African integration have paid the price.

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