On October 1, 1990, Maj. Gen. Fred Rwigyema, a Rwandan refugee serving in the Uganda army, led thousands of fellow Rwandan refugees across the border to topple the government in Rwanda.
”We have been attacked, and we have not identified the invaders yet,” Colonel Rusatira of Rwanda Defense Ministry told Radio France International three days after the attack on Kagitumba Border. ”All we know is that they are wearing uniforms looking like those of the Ugandan army.”
A communique issued by Kampala condemned this act by refugees saying, “The escape and re-entry into Rwanda was done without our knowledge or support.”
The escape of refugees was a climax of years of their careful and clandestine mobilisation, and training. The Rwandan refugees had for years suffered under previous regimes in Uganda. Because of their torture, humiliation and denial of inaleanable human rights, the refugees had learned the benefits of surviving clandestinely.
Infact when Mr. Yoweri Museveni rebelled against his boss President Apollo Milton Obote, the Rwandan refugees saw a loophole and chance to advance their decades long held plans of returning home.
The Rwandan refugees joined Museveni’s Resistance movement armed wing of course as the easiest means of gaining realtime war theatre experience that would later be instrumental in launching a protracted armed struggle against the racist regime in their motherland.
After the Rwandan refugees helped bring President Museveni to power, Gen. Rwigyema had risen in ranks as once deputy commander of the National Resistance Army and later deputy defense minister. Such military operation and leadership skills coupled with excellent ideological orientation and a shared objective among the Rwandan refugees was enough to facilitate their return back home.
Indeed the first test of the refugees’ level of excellence was the element of surprise on the day of invasion.
President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and President Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda were away in New York for the conference on children.
This desertion of excellent warriors of Rwandan origin in the National Resistance Army has always given sleepless nights to Museveni and held nearly all Rwandans with suspicion.
These former Rwandan refugees sucessfully toppled the Habyarimana regime in Kigali in 1994 and single handedly ended a genocide against Tutsi that claimed over a million lives.
Rwanda has been restored to a functional and progressive state with an enviable position in various global rankings and this triggers more envy from Rwanda’s northern neighbour.
According to analysts of Relations between Kampala and Kigali for the past 27 years, Kampala has always wanted to prove it is superior and that it could influence internal functioning of the regime in Kigali.
Through numerous attempts, Kampala has not grown past petty old school squabbles against the Kigali leadership.
The Uganda government now facilitates anti Rwandan elements, possibly dreaming of toppling Kigali. However, Kigali has grown its capabilities in nearly all fronts and can take on challenges both home and abroad.
Closing Gatuna, Kagitumba Borders
Repeated torture and humiliation of Rwandans legally living in Uganda forced Rwanda to close its borders and protect its citizens from harms way since March 2019.
The Kampala regime which has lost touch with Kigali believes that any Rwandan on Uganda territory must be a source of valuable information on Kigali- the reason many Rwandans are rounded up in a non selective manner, tortured and detained. Kampala thinks at least every Rwandan must be on a spy mission in Uganda.
In March 2018, President Museveni refused to attend the African Continental Free Trade Area Treaty meeting in Kigali. Three days after the meeting, President Paul Kagame flew to Kampala with a delegation to meet Museveni for discussions.
During a joint press conference Museveni was tasked to explain the harassment against Rwandans in Uganda. “I think there needs to be close cooperation between intelligence services,” he said.
“There is no fundamental conflict between Rwanda and Uganda,” Museveni said.
However, Museveni still maintains a bullyish attitude towards Kigali and heaps blame on Kigali for the frosty relations between the two countries despite attempts of mediated talks to normalise relations.
In a recent interview with foreign press, President Museveni was pressed to explain the border closure politics.
President Museveni has blamed President Paul Kagame of Rwanda for shutting the border two years ago.
Museveni denied claims by Kagame that he was acting like the master of the region and a bully.
On Rwanda Spying on Uganda, he laughed it off saying the secrets are in his head therefore their effort is a waste of time.
In a July Interview with Financial Times, President Kagame was also tasked to explain espionage claims.
President Kagame was asked to respond specifically to allegations of spying on Ugandan officials.
“Our country, like any other country, does intelligence. In fact they even monitor people’s communication. For us to know our enemies and what they do wherever they are is something we have always tried to do within our rights like it is in the rights of all the countries we know in this world,” Kagame said.
He added, “of course there are rules that govern all these things we do. Probably more things happen discreetly than those that happen in the open. That is why some people will pretend and accuse people of doing certain things that they do even more than the people they are accusing.”
“We have done intelligence and we are going to do it for the future because that is how countries operate,” Kagame said.
“I don’t think Rwanda would be an exception. That is how we get to know about our enemies and those that support our enemies. We know a lot about them but we use mainly human intelligence. We are very good at that for your information. We really do a good job of that,” Kagame told the FInancial Times Journalist.