KAMPALA - The Ugandan army has confirmed this week’s arrest of 20 Rwandans who were apprehended on their way to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to join Rwandan genocidal forces there.
“We arrested them on suspicion of being on their way to FDLR (Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda) bases and we have handed them over to (Ugandan) Police to process their prosecution,” the Spokesman of Uganda people’s Defence Forces (UPDF), Maj. Felix Kulayigye, confirmed by telephone yesterday.
The suspected rebel recruits were arrested on Tuesday at Katete in Isingiro district near the Ugandan border with the DRC.
Kulayigye however said that he was not in position to know whether the suspects who were commuting by minibus would be extradited to Rwanda.
“It is not for us (UPDF) to decide on the extradition…all we did was arresting people who we believed were going to join FDLR in DRC and they are now in the hands of the Police,” he said.
Uganda’s Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kuteesa could not be reached for comment as his cell phone was off by press time.
However, when contacted yesterday Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs minister, Dr Charles Murigande said he was not aware of the arrests.
“I have not been informed of the arrests…at least not at the ministerial level and I cannot comment on the matter,” Murigande said.
Kulayigye said that the UPDF will never allow any Rwandan rebel group to operate on Ugandan soil.
“We cannot allow Ugandan soil to be used to destabilise (Rwanda),” Kulayigye said.
The arrested FDLR suspects are among Rwandan refugees based in western Uganda.
The refugees are part of a large group of Rwandans that crossed to Uganda in 2001 from Tanzania, where they had fled to following the 1994 war and Genocide. However, most of those refugees have since returned to Rwanda while many among those that refused to voluntarily repatriate are suspected to have participated in the Genocide.