Two men wanted for the deadly attack by RUD-Urunana militia on Kinigi, Musanze District on the night of October 3-4, 2019 are among 13 Rwandan nationals that Ugandan authorities handed over to Rwanda on Tuesday, February 18.
The duo, Kabayija Seleman and Nzabonimpa Fidel, were among at least four militiamen who fled to Uganda after Rwanda’s security forces neutralised the attackers, killing 19 of them and capturing five others.
The other two include ‘Captain’ Nshimiye a.k.a Gavana, and Mugwaneza Eric.
The four men were publically named by Rwanda’s State Minister for East African Community (EAC) Amb. Olivier Nduhungirehe at the opening of last Friday’s talks in Kigali between Rwanda and Uganda aimed at restoring ties between the two neighbours.
Rwanda had said that the RUD-Urunana fighters who withdrew to Uganda had been received by Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) on the other side of the border before they were transferred to Mbarara and later to the headquarters of Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) in the capital Kampala.
Kigali also said it had material evidence that Uganda’s state minister for regional cooperation Philemon Mateke was in contact with the Musanze assailants prior to and during the attack. It said the call history of one of the phones recovered from the crime scene belonged to Mateke.
Mateke would later deny this as did the Ugandan government.
“Captain Nshimiye a.k.a “Gavana”, who coordinated the Kinigi terror attack of the night of 3-4 October 2019, is still under the protection of Uganda security organs and is handled by the Minister of State Philemon Mateke.
“He freely frequents Kyangwari refugee camp where some of their combatants and dependents are located. Nshimiye regularly travels to Kisoro to visit his wife and to meet Minister Mateke for briefings,” Nduhungirehe said during last Friday’s talks.
He added: “In the same vein, Nzabonimana Fidèle, Kabayiza Seleman and Mugwaneza Eric, RUD Urunana operatives who participated in the Kinigi attack and reported to the Uganda authorities on 12th October 2019, are still protected by Uganda’s security organs from facing justice in Rwanda.”
In a statement released Tuesday, the Ugandan government placed the 13 Rwandans handed over to the Rwandan embassy in Kampala in four categories, with the two RUD-Urunana operatives in what it called Category D. The two men, the statement said, “were under trial in the General Court Martial for illegal possession of firearms and charges have been withdrawn.” Ugandan authorities further claimed that “the two suspects reported themselves with their guns to UPDF at the border.”
Rwanda accuses Uganda of arbitrarily arresting and torturing Rwandan nationals, and denying them access to consular and legal services as well as not producing them before courts of law. Kampala has also been linked to anti-Kigali armed groups seeking to destabilise Rwanda.
Women, married couples among those released
The 13 Rwandans handed over by Uganda on Tuesday were expected to arrive back home last night.
Nine others were set free early January.
Among those released Tuesday include three women and two married couples.
Besides the two RUD-Urunana operatives, the 11 others freed were identified as; Ntirushwamaboko, Jean Bosco Habumugisha, Narcise Ukwigezi, Ansiira Ukwitegetse (Ntirushwamaboko’s wife), Christine Mukamazima (Habumugisha’s wife), and Hyacinthe Dusangeyezu, the wife of René Rutagungira, one of the nine released in January. Others include Eric Penzi, Alphonse Ahokuremeye, Bosco Gitifu, John Bosco Mugisha, and Jotham Ngaruye.
The development comes four days after the third meeting of the Ad Hoc Commission on the implementation of the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding between Uganda and Rwanda held in Kigali and ahead of Friday’s talks between the two countries’ presidents facilitated by Angola and Congolese leaders.
The talks are being held under the Luanda MoU signed by both countries in August last year.
Kagame, Museveni to meet again
President Paul Kagame and his Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni will be meeting for yet another Quadripartite Heads of State Summit – which will also attract the leaders of Angola and DR Congo – in an effort to normalise ties between Kigali and Kampala.
The meeting will take place at the Gatuna border crossing between the two countries.
Also expected at the summit are Angolan President João Lourenço, and Félix Tshisekedi of DR Congo – who have been facilitating talks between the two neighbours since mid-last year.
Three such summits have been held since the signing of the Luanda MoU in August 2019, the latest of which took place earlier this month. This week’s summit will be the first under the Luanda framework to be held outside of Angola.
Early last year Kigali issued a travel advisory to Uganda saying it could not guarantee their safety there.