Rwanda is seeking explanations from Kampala following fresh arrests of Rwandans inside the East African country – a development that could worsen the already tense bilateral relations between the two countries.
Reports from Kampala indicate that some 40 Rwandan nationals were on Tuesday arrested in the Kampala suburb of Kibuye in a joint operation conducted by the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) and Uganda Police.
According to Uganda’s Daily Monitor, the operation was conducted at an unidentified church located on the first floor of Joinus building in Kibuye, a suburb along Entebbe Road, which reportedly has a membership of only Rwandan citizens.
The Minister of State in charge of East African Community Amb. Olivier Nduhungirehe told KT Press that the Rwandan government is following up on the latest arrests of Rwanda.
“We are yet to get enough information. The High Commission is following the case with Ugandan authorities,” Nduhungirehe said.
Rwanda’s High Commissioner to Uganda, Maj. Gen (Rtd) Frank Mugambage in a brief phone interview said that the mission is following up on the reports of fresh arrests targeting Rwandans.
“We are yet to get details but we are following up on the issue,” he said, adding that more details will be provided in due course after Ugandan authorities communicate.
The Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesperson Patrick Onyango told Daily Monitor that police only played “a supportive role” in the operation.
Rwanda has particularly accused the military intelligence outfit CMI of targeting Rwandans inside Uganda, with hundreds already languishing in arbitrary detention centres without trial.
Rwanda also says Rwandans have been subjected to torture while others have been deported illegally and dumped on the border.
The Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) spokesperson, Brig Richard Karemire, did not provide any details regarding the arrests but sources say the operation is privy to CMI, which operates unilaterally.
Rwanda also accuses CMI of facilitating groups fighting the Rwandan government mainly the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) led by Kayumba Nyamwasa.
No details have been provided regarding the arrests, despite local media in Uganda reporting that the arrested individuals were a ‘security threat’.
Relations between Rwanda and Uganda have over the last two years worsened with Rwanda accusing Kampala of arbitrarily arresting Rwandans and backing rebel groups seeking to distabilise the country.
Rwanda also vehemently dismisses reports that the arrested Rwandans are spies but rather ordinary citizens going about their businesses in Uganda before they are targeted by security operatives who either compel them to join rebel groups or lock them up for refusing.
On June 12, in a meeting held in Luanda, Angola, under the auspices of the host President João Lourenço and Félix Tshisekedi of DR Congo, attended by President Paul Kagame and President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, both countries expressed ‘willingness’ to have a dialogue to resolve the ongoing situation.
However, nearly two weeks now, there is no sign of the situation relenting. No dates have been set for further dialogue.
With the arrests inside Uganda continuing, officials in Rwanda say it is too early to tell if the dialogue which will be facilitated by Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will lead to the restoration of warm relations between the two neighbours.
Rwanda maintains that Rwandans should desist from traveling to Uganda for their own safety.