By Busein Samilu and Muhamadi Byemboijana
A day after Uganda dropped all charges against nine Rwandans who have been in detention for more than a year, Rwanda’s Ambassador to Uganda has asked Ugandan authorities to release all Rwandans illegally detained here.
Amb. Frank Mugambagye, the Rwanda High Commissioner to Uganda called upon the Ugandan authorities to immediately release all the Rwandans whom he said were arbitrarily arrested.
Mugambagye’s remarks came during a news conference called by Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa to announce that nine Rwandans who were detained by the military, had been set free and deported.
Mugambagye applauded the release of the prisoners but added that Uganda needs to go a step further.
He said: “A step in the right direction needs to be followed by further actions to end all the concerns that we have always have raised over time. It is not only those. We would request in good gesture as the Minister has said that all those who were arbitrarily arrested and are under illegal detention should also be released”
Ambassador Mugambagye added: “The principle of arbitrary arrests should stop because I have been following the lawyers on these cases but there was no evidence or witnesses over the cases that were raised against them.”
Relations between the two countries have been sour for more than a year. Matters were escalated by the closing of the border by Rwanda in protest of the alleged illegal detention of Rwandans in Ugandan jails.
While giving the New Year’s message, President Yoweri Museveni promised to iron out the problems as a way to mend relations.
In response, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame during his New Year’s message said that Rwanda was ready to restore the relationship if Uganda could do the needful and solve the issues which they (Rwanda) were complaining about including illegal detention of their nationals.
Museveni sent a special message through his envoy Ambassador Adonia Ayebare, Uganda’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations to his counterpart.
“The withdrawal of charges and release of these nine are some of the fruits from the negotiations that took place,” Kuteesa told Journalists.
The ex-prisoners were identified as: Nelson Mugabo, Retired SGT Rene Rutagungira, Etienne Nsanzabahizi, Cloude Yakalemye, Emmanuel Rwamuchwo, Augustine Rutayisire, CPL Herman Nzeyamana, Adrien Munyangabe and Gilbert Uyrayeneza were paraded before the press at Serena Hotel in Kampala before being deported.
Minister Sam Kahamba Kutesa said that the release of these nine Rwandans was done as part of the normalization of relations between the two countries.
“It is the hope of the Ugandan government that the Rwandese Authority receives this as goodwill and I wish to reiterate Uganda’s commitment that in ending the beef by ensuring any outstanding issue and concern will be addressed in an open and transparent way,” he said.
According to Kutesa, the suspects were released on a mole prosecu. “This is when someone who is charged and during or before trial, you decide for whatever reason to withdraw charges against him and for our case, we are doing this as a political move to ease the tension between our two countries which is in accordance to the law.”