Debunking propaganda article on RDF crossing into Uganda

A police officer in dilapidated staff quarters in Uganda. Ugandan armed forces have for years called for decent accommodation. Internet photo

A Ugandan website on Thursday published an article entitled “EXCLUSIVE: Tension Flares as Rwandan Soldiers Cross into Uganda”, in which the writer quotes unsubstantiated sources to sell a narrative that Rwandan soldiers enter Ugandan territory in search of drinks, food and cigarettes.

One misinformation goes; “…after taking their drinks, they walk back to Rwanda”. Really? Rwandan soldiers, wearing military uniform and carrying guns and ammunition would go all the way to Kisoro inside Uganda?

Equally funny is how the so-called source, instead of informing UPDF or area Uganda police of the purported presence of Rwandan soldiers on Ugandan territory, opted to report to a journalist!

This is cheap propaganda and demonstrates irresponsibility on the part of the author and the media house.

One wonders what is on the other side of the border that cannot be found in Rwanda that would entice Rwandan soldiers to enter Uganda in utter violation of immigration rules.

Is the author trying to insinuate that there is lack of supplies in Rwanda and, as such, soldiers have to seek these in Uganda?

Let me just remind the publication that they should care more for supplies of UPDF, which are in shortage and leave Rwanda Defence Force alone.

As the author probably knows, Rwandan soldiers are well taken care of, from what they need to eat to clothing, let alone accommodation.

Claims that RDF soldiers were sighted in Kisoro are unfounded and are only aimed at selling a narrative to Ugandans that their territory is being infiltrated by Rwandan soldiers.

This also raises suspicion that the author could be laying ground for the Ugandan military so that when they loot peoples’ property – for which they have a reputation – it will then be attributed to Rwandan soldiers.

I remember very well how in September 2018, a group of UPDF officers attached to Queen Elizabeth National Park grabbed game meat from lions, after a successful hunt by the cats.

As narrated by an eyewitness, UPDF soldiers chased the lions off their prey and carried the carcass back to their barracks.

Meanwhile, the article further claims that since last year, Rwanda deployed its military along the Ugandan border as the two countries’ relations worsened amid counter accusations of espionage, economic sabotage and supporting rival armed movements operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The story continues to point out that Uganda is yet to deploy soldiers along the border with Rwanda, a move officials reportedly said is “part of President Museveni’s effort to avoid the escalation of the conflict.”

The author, whether deliberate or out of ignorance, did not mention UPDF’s deployments along the border with Rwanda and how the Ugandan military has reinforced its Second Division under the Command of Brig Kayanja Muhanga, which has its headquarters in Mbarara District.

It is common knowledge that the UPDF’s Second Division that has two brigades – 309 and 401 – has since November 2018 adjusted its deployments.

These two brigades have moved deployments towards the border with Rwanda.

The 401 Brigade, which with its headquarters in Kabale under the command of Lt Col Ibrahim Mutabazi, has three battalions; 19 infantry battalion, 35 battalion and 33 battalion, all made deployments along the border with Rwanda.

For instance, the 19 infantry battalion, also headquartered in Kabale under the command of Lt Col Emmanuel Mukasa, deployed in areas such as Cyonyo, Rushaki, Kamuganguzi, Gafunzo and Butobere.

The 35 battalion, under the command of Lt Col Johnson Muhanguzi, has dispositions in Nyakabande, Nyarusiza, Kanombe hill, Ntamutindi hill and Bunagana, while the 33 Battalion commanded by Lt Col Tumwine with headquarters in Kisoro has deployed at Kisoro, Rwindi, Kanungu, Ishasha, and Rugano.

On the other hand, the 309 Brigade, commanded by Col Keith Katungyi and based in Kisoro, has two battalions; the 7 Battalion commanded by Maj. Geoffrey Nabimanya and 47 Battalion commanded by Maj. Jotham Kature.

These two battalions are deployed at Bunagana, Rukungiri, Kabingo and Kikagati.

All these deployments by the UPDF are along the border with Rwanda.

It is an open secret that since November 2018, UPDF started deployment of heavily equipped forces at Kihumuro Hill in Kabale.

Kihumuro Hill is used as an Infantry Tactical Operations Base Camp and the number of soldiers here has grown up to 1,000. The entire force there is under the command of Maj. Joshua Annuarachi and it includes counterterrorism and CMI (Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence) operatives who conduct surveillance and gather intelligence along border.

Sources also indicate that an artillery platoon led by one Lt Judith is deployed on Kacwekano and Karujanga hills – overlooking Rwanda – with artillery capabilities (Katyusha rocket launchers, 11mm, 14.7mm and 12.7mm).

Other sources from Kisoro District revealed that continuous deployments of UPDF soldiers from the 35 battalion operating in Kisoro have been going on for the last few days.

Sources further intimated of the presence of an estimated 200 Special Forces at Butobere, at a place called Nyabitabo.

Now, contrary to what the author claimed, there is sufficient proof of UPDF deployments along the border with Rwanda. One wonders why all these deployment?

If the Ugandan website was interested in truth these are facts they should have laid bare, instead of fabricating an imaginary story of Rwandan troops amassing along the border and occasionally crossing into Uganda.

The views expressed in this article are of the author.

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