Over 170 Rwandans set to be freed by Uganda

Vincent Biruta. Courtesy

There is optimism over the restoration of ties between Rwanda and Uganda as 176 Rwandans currently held in the neighbouring country’s prisons are set to be released in the coming week.

This was confirmed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Vincent Biruta on Friday morning.

 

Biruta said that Rwanda, Uganda and their facilitators had been holding regular discussions in recent weeks to review progress since the last Quadripartite Heads of State Summit held in February this year.

 

The summit, which was the fourth, was held at the border of Gatuna and was attended by both Presidents Kagame and Uganda's Yoweri Museveni, and their facilitators and fellow heads of state from Angola and DRC.

 

Rwanda has since received a list of 176 Rwandans which the Foreign Affairs Ministry is going through and verifying against their database.  

Biruta, however, said that it was still too early to establish what percentage the 176 represent against the total number of Rwandans held in Uganda.

He said the total number is not officially known.

In recent days there have been comments by some high ranking Ugandan officials that suggested progress in the improvement of relations. 

These, Biruta termed as mixed signals as they are at times followed by actions contrary to the spirit of integration.

“As for the statements by high ranking officials, you wonder if they are personal sentiments or official positions. At times you have these statements and later the following day there are actions that are contrary. We can build on the positive signals and actions such as the release of Rwandans who are being held… we have had mixed signals, while there are positive statements and sentiments on twitter, there are Rwandans who have been arrested,” he said.

He described the scheduled release of Rwandans as a move in the right direction towards restoring ties.

Going forward, he said that the countries are also exploring the possibility of virtually holding a meeting by the Ad Hoc Commission on the implementation of the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding between Uganda and Rwanda to review progress.

The commission is on both sides headed by ministers in charge of foreign Affairs.

The February summit had given Uganda a month to verify the allegations and evidence presented by Rwanda which included illegal arrest of Rwandans as well as anti-Rwanda groups operating from Uganda.

Once proven, Uganda was expected to take all measures possible to address the challenges. 

The actions and response to the findings are subject to review by the Ad Hoc Commission.

Once the recommendations are fulfilled satisfactorily, a fifth summit will be convened for the solemn normalization of ties.

“We are talking and exploring ways we can have a video conference on the Ad Hoc Commission and later a summit. However before that there are lots of actions that can be taken in the spirit of the summit,” he said.

Manasseh Nshuti the Minister in charge of East African Community (EAC) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said that while statements and sentiments by Ugandan government officials are good, actions are better to facilitate recovery of relations.

cmwai@newtimesrwanda.com

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