⏹ Uganda withdraws charges against nine Rwandan nationals
✅ Mugabo Nelson
✅ RTD SGT Rene Rutagungira
✅ Etienne Nsanzabahizi
✅ Claude Yakalemye
✅ Emmanuel Rwamuchwo
✅ Augustine Rutayisire
✅ CPL Nzeyamana Herman
✅ Munyagabe Adrien
✅ Urayeneza Gilbert
Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Uganda has withdrawn charges against nine Rwandan nationals and released them, one of many steps expected to help normalize relations between the two neighbors.
“In line with the Uganda-Rwanda Memorandum of Understanding signed in Angola,the government of Uganda has withdrawn charges of nine Rwandan individuals that were undergoing charges at the General Court Martial,” said Uganda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Uganda Sam Kutesa at a press briefing on Wednesday.
Rwanda has however demanded that more be released.
The High Commissioner of Rwanda to Uganda Maj Gen Frank Mugambage said in his remarks at the handover in Kampala that “the principle of arbitrary arrests must stop, but I want to say this is a step in the right direction and I want to thank you.”
There was an immediate response from Kigali, with Minister in charge of East Africa Affairs Amb. Olivier Nduhungirehe stating that “The just concluded handover of nine Rwandan citizens who were arbitrary arrested and illegally detained in Uganda is indeed a step in the right direction. However, nine is not all. Hundreds of our compatriots in the same situation in Uganda must be released.”
Nduhungirehe said this, despite Kutesa stating that charges were actually dropped against the nine. They had been charged with illegal possession of firearms.
“Let me set the record straight. We have withdrawn charges. These people were not arbitrary arrested. It was an act of goodwill and we hope it will be reciprocated,”said Kutesa.
He added that the decision to release the Rwandan Nationals was a result of a visit Rwanda by Ambassador Adonia Ayebare as president Museveni’s emissary to President Kagame. He said Rwanda had sent a list of its nationals in detention, although he adds, many of those on the list had been already sent back to Rwanda.
August 2019 Luanda Memorandum
Uganda said the decision to release the nine Rwandans was as per the August 2019 Luanda Memorandum of Understanding between Uganda and Rwanda, penned in Angola.
The charges against the nine were revoked by Makindye based General Court Martial yesterday and will be repatriated today.
New year message of hope
President Yoweri Museveni in his new year message on December 31, expressed optimism that relations between Uganda and Rwanda will improve soon.
“I can guarantee, that Uganda will do its share of the normalization of the relations between our two countries. I salute President Paul Kagame, the brotherly people of Rwanda and the people of Uganda,” Museveni said .
President Kagame 10 days ago held what the Office of the Rwanda President described as “a positive meeting” with Ambassador Adonia Ayebare, President Yoweri Museveni’s Special Envoy, who traveled to Kigali with a message regarding the two countries’ relationship.
“Ambassador Ayebare was well received by President Kagame and they had very fruitful discussions. Soon, the two sides will be taking decisive actions to end the tension,” Museveni said.
It is the first time President Museveni is commenting on the declining Rwanda Uganda relations in months.
The presidents of Rwanda and Uganda in August signed an agreement in Angola to ease months of tensions after the two leaders exchanged accusations of spying, political assassinations and meddling.
Since then, there has been slow progress on the actual return of normalcy especially the opening of the Gatuna border which the Kigali administration closed in February this year.
Delegations from Rwanda and Uganda three weeks back failed to reach an agreement and decided to refer the matters to the head of states of both countries.
News of the message, meeting and now release of prisoners will raise hopes of an agreement to end a year-long disagreement that has seen Rwanda close its borders.
Kagame and Museveni were once close allies but their relations have turned deeply hostile in a dispute that damaged trade between the east African neighbours.