Rwanda is a good neighbor, but can never be brought to her knees

The Ugandan security agencies current unlawful, brutal treatment of Rwandan nationals only is the continuation of a pattern of subversive acts by Kampala against the leadership of Rwanda.

At the leadership retreat that began yesterday at Gabiro Combat Training Center, President Kagame in his opening speech touched on a number of important national issues – foremost among them the current strained relations between Uganda and Rwanda. 

Predictably, Uganda’s propaganda mouthpiece Chimp Reports published an article titled “Kagame: I spoke to Museveni about Rujugiro, Nyamwasa and Rutagungira.” Instead of focusing on the substance of President Kagame’s speech, they chose to report on Tribert Rujugiro, the chief financier of Kayumba Nyamwasa’s Rwanda National Congress (RNC) who established business interests in Uganda to fund activities that are geared at destabilizing Rwanda, a scheme whose objective is shared by the RNC and Museveni’s government.

Chimp Reports writes that two weeks ago, Rwanda’s Ambassador to Uganda had reached out to the authorities in that country “to request that Uganda closes the businesses owned by Rujugiro,” and “on economic grounds President Museveni didn’t accept the request and two weeks later,” it continues maliciously, “Rwanda reacted by closing its border and blocking its citizens from crossing into Uganda.”

Rwanda did not close the Gatuna border due to Rujugiro. It was to allow construction work. Moreover, Museveni’s refusal to distance himself from Rujugiro is not the only basis for Rwanda’s decision to issue a warning to its nationals against traveling to Uganda; it was due to the incessant harassment, jailing, torture, and deportation of Rwandans in Uganda without due processes.

Indeed, the history of Uganda’s efforts to destabilize Rwanda by supporting those who seek to subvert the government of Rwanda has a long history.

Interestingly, Chimp Reports recalls that “Museveni has carefully avoided commenting on Rwanda, apart from the press conference at State House Entebbe where he said there wasn’t any ‘fundamental problem’ between Uganda and Rwanda.” 

However, it conveniently forgets to note that at the same event President Museveni had conceded to the presence of RNC rebels in Uganda who were facilitated by CMI,

“When I met President Kagame in Addis Ababa he gave me some facts which I followed up. A group of Banyarwanda was being recruited through Tanzania and Burundi to go to Congo. They said they were going for church work, but when they were interrogated, it was found the work was not exactly religious. It was something else,” he said in reference to the RNC recruits who were intercepted at the Kikagati border with CMI issued travel documents that were to facilitate them to the rebel outfit’s training centre in Minembwe, DRC, through Bujumbura.

In President Kagame's speech that alluded to the many provocations from Kampala against Rwanda and Rwandan nationals; and the hostile stance of the Ugandan leadership President Kagame did not mince words. 

“I am not in control of what somebody thinks about me, or plans to do against me, but I must be in control of something,” said the President. He continued: “So you can attempt to destabilize us, attempt to do us harm or do it actually. Even at a personal level, you can kill somebody; you can shoot me with a gun and kill me, that’s a possibility for some people. But there is one thing that is impossible; that cannot happen to me, and I wish it shouldn’t happen to our country. Nobody anywhere can bring me to my knees, absolutely not. Because coming to your knees is your choice, I think it’s a choice! There are people who make a choice to be brought to their knees. Men and women of Rwanda, you must never go to your knees, you should never accept that!”

The Rwandan head of state was talking not merely of events that have been happening recently, such as the escalating incidents of persecution of Rwandans in Uganda by Kampala security services, the injustices meted out on Rwandans that end up abducted and thrown into dungeons of Uganda’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) and others like ISO.

The Ugandan security agencies current unlawful, brutal treatment of Rwandan nationals is only the continuation of a pattern of subversive acts by Kampala against the leadership of Rwanda. 

The Museveni government has sought to destabilize Rwanda from way back in 2001, the President disclosed, adding that it continued like that, up to when matters took on another face with the hosting and facilitating of Kayumba Nyamwasa’s RNC group that has perpetrated terrorist acts in Rwanda, detonating grenades that killed Rwandans and wounded very many.

Rwanda, through its diplomatic mission reportedly raised the issue of RNC recruitment, and other subversive acts numerous times but, according to reports, Kampala only turned a deaf ear.

President Kagame at Gabiro yesterday revealed that he personally complained to President Museveni about Rujugiro’s activities in Uganda. “I raised the issue of Rujugiro who runs business in Uganda and bankrolls groups that seek to destabilize Rwanda

“Initially he (Museveni) said he did not know him (Rujugiro), then I proved to him that he knew him!”

According to the President, these acts of RNC in Uganda include recruitment – actively assisted and facilitated by CMI and ISO – of young Rwandans in Uganda who are taken to RNC training camps in eastern DRC. According to eyewitness accounts of Rwandans that have suffered torture at the hands of CMI and RNC agents, RNC is also active in abducting, kidnapping, jailing and torturing Rwandans.

One of the cases of abducted and victimized Rwandans is Rene Rutagungira, a family man who did business in Kampala. CMI agents in May 2017 dragged him from a bar in Bakuli, Kampala and took him to Makindye. Up to now, he is in locked up there, yet the Ugandan authorities have never proven a thing against him. 

The injustices and harassment against Rwandan civilians traveling to, or living in Uganda perpetrated by Ugandan agencies and RNC have reached the extent to which Rwanda recently took the measure to strongly advise Rwandans not to travel to Uganda. 

Coinciding with that decision, Rwanda directed heavy commercial trucks from Uganda to use the Kagitumba border instead of Gatuna. Some Ugandan media have tried to portray this as a decision to “close the border”, which it is not. Trucks can enter Rwanda through Kagitumba via Mirama Hills.

The President added, “My choice is to be friendly neighbors, and anyone who chooses that, they will never find us wanting on that. We are honest friends and allies with anyone that wants to live with us as friends.

“The second choice is to let me be; while I don’t prefer that, I’d respect your choice. The third is when you don’t like us, and decide to keep causing problems; I will create capacity to contain those problems, but they will not come from me.”

The views expressed in this article are of the authors.