Intelligence services of Rwanda and Uganda require working closely together to prevent prolonged friction that endangers the security of both countries; President Yoweri Museveni and President Paul Kagame agreed last year.
At the height of an ugly tension, on March 25, last year, President Kagame flew to Entebbe, Uganda and held a private discussion with President Museveni to sort out issues on the Railway project, cross border electricity, the Airline operations and most importantly security.
As the two presidents were ironing out these issues, dozens of Rwandans were languishing in Ugandan detention centres including kidnappings while others suffered gruesome torture and eventually dumped at the Rwandan borders.
After their meeting, the two presidents held a joint press conference.
When a journalist raised the concerns of harassment and torture subjected to Rwandans in Uganda, because of accusations of espionage, Museveni did not deny, but said; “the answer to that is close cooperation between the intelligence services.”
According to Museveni, the intelligence services of the two countries needed to get facts on every pertinent case.
“There hasn’t been enough coordination not only on the intelligence side but also on the development side,” Museveni said, adding that a Ugandan minister should be able to dial on a cell phone and call his counterpart in Rwanda to consult about any issue within the shared sector.
“If they could only work closely, I think a lot of confusion would be avoided because there is nothing substantive when I listen carefully,” Museveni said.
Exactly twelve months later after the two leaders met in Entebbe, the friction between the two countries is still tense.
More and more Rwandans still get dumped at the border after enduring torture at the hands of Ugandan security agents.
Ugandans and Rwandans have been demanding to know exactly what is happening to the two countries but details are not very cool.
President Kagame who had patiently kept these issues to particular forum, decided to open the lid on the can during the 16th National Leadership Retreat at RDF Combat Training Center in Gabiro district.
“We have Rwandans who go to Uganda who have been in prison, in their dozens, some of them are in military prison, others nobody knows where they are,” Kagame said.
The president also noted that almost every week there are people who are brought and dumped across the border, and when you asked some of them, they say they have been in prison for two years.
“When you ask our friends from across the border, they tell us they were illegal immigrants, but they were in prison for two years, with no charges, until they pack them in a truck and take them across the border.”
Kagame linked most of these disturbing cases to enemies of the state especially the RNC grouping that is operating cells in Uganda; “Some of the Rwandans who are put in prison is on the advice of RNC. There is the case of a man who has been in prison for two years after he refused to be recruited by RNC.”
Kagame also talked about another case of a man and woman who were taken away from their home, forced to leave their children of seven and four years old home alone.
To this day no one knows where they are.
“I have raised it with our friends; I have been as elaborate as I can. I have begged and begged, but in that begging process, I have come to this point: in a relationship, country to country or person to person, there are three types of relationships.”
“One is, we can be friends, allies; we can work as closely as anyone can. That is my choice. If that is the choice of the other party, they will never fault us for not responding as allies and friends. We are honest friends and allies of anyone who wants to be.
Second type is, you can say why, don’t you ignore me, I ignore you and we have nothing to do with each other. For me that is fair. Let’s each do our own thing without bothering about the other. It is not my choice, my choice is the first one.
The third one is, I don’t like you, I will always cause you problems, we will always conflict. It will not come from us, from this country or me, to seek problems with others.
“We have been provoked, people have crossed our borders, killed our people and we have not responded. We were able to see someone wanted to drag us into this mess. When they have dragged you into this sort of problem, then you start looking the same.”
Finally on this matter, Kagame said, “You can attempt to destabilize our country, you can do us harm, you can shoot me with a gun and kill me.But there is one thing that is impossible: No one can bring me to my knees. Men and women of my country, you should never accept that. You are much better than that”.