Nkurunziza strikes Museveni: kicks Uganda scouts out of Burundi

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Uganda scouts blocked at Burundi border

What started like a simple exchange of letters between President Museveni and Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza is soon spiralling out of control.

Nkurunziza had written to Museveni accusing the Rwandan president Paul Kagame of sponsoring coups and rebels to topple the Bujumbura government.

He suggested that Museveni being the chairman of the East African Community [EAC] should use the regional bloc to restrain Kagame from sabotaging his presidency.

Kagame told Nkurunziza not to provoke him saying Rwanda chose to join EAC and that he would defeat anyone who dares attack Rwanda.

Museveni also wrote back to Nkurunziza telling him not to manipulate the EAC for his own gains, something that doesn’t seem to have settled well with the Burundian leader.

Burundi blocks Uganda scouts

On Sunday December 16, 2018, this year’s African Zone Scout competition kicked off at Gitega in Burundi.

The competitions were supposed to attract competitors from Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi the hosts.

Ugandan scouts

Uganda was the chair of this year’s zonal competitions and was supposed to provide judges, the band and guest of honour.

However, the team comprised of 309 scouts was blocked at the border, even the top officials who wanted to proceed to the event changed their minds and moved back with the rest of the team.

Students from Ntare School who had moved ahead of the team were directed to withdraw and return to Uganda to the shock of Uganda Scouts Association (USA).

The USA chief commissioner, Gen. Katumba Wamala, told the Captain (SFC officer in charge of security for the scouts) to bring the kids back if the Burundian authorities had become ‘so inhuman’.

Cold treatment

The team was first held at Mutukula border post for over 10 hours.

When they finally proceeded to Burundi in the night, they again spent another night at the border owing to security issues.

They were supposed to leave the National Scout Camp site in Kaazi on Friday morning but the scouts were delayed after it became evident that security operatives were being organised to escort the children.

The children stayed a night at Kaazi and left on Saturday at about 4:00am and reached Mutukula border post at 9:00am.

At Mutukula, the delegation was cleared to proceed at 7:30pm with an army escort from Tanzania after several discussions on whether Ugandan armed security operatives should be allowed to enter the country while armed.

Disappointed kids

The soldiers escorted the six buses, but diverted from the main route and chose a marrum road that leads through a game reserve, where the buses got stuck in the mud.

The weather was too cold for the children but the scouts pushed the buses and were assisted by some truck drivers who used the trucks to pull one of the buses from the mud.

The scouts arrived at the Burundian border at about 9:00am on Sunday, where the Tanzanian arm handed over and the immigration officials cleared everybody, but asked them not to proceed.

The Ugandan security personnel were again locked up in discussions on whether they would be allowed to cross with their guns.

Stephen Bitwingire, the national deputy commissioner, engaged all authorities including Uganda’s ambassador to Burundi, Brig. Matayo Kyaligonza, to no avail.

He appealed to the scouts’ regional headquarters in Nairobi and the EA federation to intervene and resolve the matter.

Uganda is scheduled to host the African Scout jamboree in 2020 at Kaazi.

Additional reporting by New Vision

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