Several Ugandan local leaders are being investigated for allegedly soliciting bribes from Rwandan refugees not willing to be repatriated, The NewTimes has learnt.
The Ugandan government launched the investigation days after local leaders in some districts were accused by the returning refugees of soliciting bribes in exchange for documents identifying them as Ugandans.
A Resident District Commissioner (RDC) who requested not to be named told this newspaper yesterday that leaders under probe are those in districts and counties.
“These are just opportunists. They look at this repatriation exercise as a fertile ground to get free money from miserable people,” the RDC said.
Prof. Tarsis Kabwegyere, Uganda’s Minister for Disaster Preparedness also confirmed the development in a telephone interview yesterday.
“These leaders are just greedy. We shall arrest all of them,” Kabwegyere said, adding that leaders should be honest, credible and straightforward.
The Rwandan refugees in Nakivale Settlement Camp claimed they bribed local authorities in Isingiro District in Western Uganda to avoid the ongoing repatriation.
“Instead of advising them (refugees) to go back home, corrupt-minded leaders are taking advantage of the situation,” Kabwegyere said.
He threatened that tough administrative measures will be taken against local officials found responsible for giving Rwandan refugees forged documents. Those given documents are said to be escaping the camps and settling in other areas of the country.
“The leaders are scaring them about their country and they end up running away,” Kabwegyere said. He appealed to the refugees to honour the repatriation exercise.
Over 20,000 Rwandan refugees have been residing in Nakivale Camp after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Their repatriation was agreed upon in a tripartite meeting that brought together both governments of Uganda and Rwanda with the UNHCR and the consensus was to have all the refugees repatriated by July this year.
Refugees claim that the local leaders demand about Ushs200,000 to obtain an LC letter confirming they are Ugandans.
The exercise has seen hundreds of refugees return home.