A twitter war has broken out between Uganda government spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo P’Odel, and Amb. Olivier Nduhungirehe, the Minister of State in Rwanda Foreign Affairs ministry in charge of the East African Community.
It started with the Executive Director of Uganda Media Centre telling press in Kampala that Uganda was neither holding Rwandans in its cells nor witch-hunting its citizens.
“There is no witch-hunt for Rwandese in Uganda. There is also nobody from Rwanda being held by the Ugandan authorities for any reason,” Opondo said. W
He added: “We would like to send a clear message to Rwanda that there is no one Uganda is harassing from Rwanda or has in custody.”
Rwandan minister Nduhungirehe responded by telling Opondo: “This statement is factually and demonstrably incorrect.”
He added: “There are more than 40 Rwanda-n citizens languishing in cells of Uganda’s Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence (CMI) and more than 800 Rwandans who were deported from or refused entry to Uganda since January 2018.”
Opondo then challenged Nduhungirehe to produce evidence of his claims.
“Thanks Minister, you would do your audience greater favour by providing details of the detained by name, ID and passport numbers and locations from where they were picked,” Opondo noted.
“We did already and our countless notes verbales remain unanswered. You can start by the list below and contact our High Commission in #Kampala for further information. The families of the detained are getting worried about the fate of their loved ones,” the minister responded, adding a list of Rwandans detained in Uganda.
“Our @RwandaMFA will communicate soon about this matter. The Ministers of both countries spoke on the phone about the situation at #Gatuna border and information related to any closure of our common border or any summoning of our High Commission in Kampala is simply not true.”
Nduhungirehe added: “If what you say is true, if all those Rwandans are detained in Uganda “because they broke some laws that govern this land”, why then denying that any single Rwandan is held incommunicado in Uganda? Why not acknowledging it and communicating about the reasons of their detention?”
Opondo then gave in: “Just crosscheck all these were charged before courts of law in Uganda, but they’re at liberty to challenge the charge and jurisdiction of the court”.
On the same day, Richard Sezibera, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Republic of Rwanda, advised citizens not to travel to Uganda where they will allegedly be harassed.
“Rwandans are strongly advised NOT to travel to Uganda due to on-going arrests, harassment, torture, incarceration without consular access, deportation etc,” Sezibera said in a social media message.
He added: “This is for their own security. Ugandans in Rwanda or travelling through Rwanda are safe.”
His remarks came hours after the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence [CMI] released Rwandan nationals and sent them back to Kigali.
Donnie Kayibanda who was arrested in Kisasi township, a Kampala suburb while returning from a relative’s wedding in January this year.
Kayibanda who studied at Butare University as a soldier is reportedly attached to Rwanda’s National Intelligence and Security Service [NISS].