Uganda’s minister of Regional Affairs, Philemon Mateke has for the first time come out to speak on accusations against him by Rwanda that he is in touch with armed so-called ‘terrorist’ groups that fight against the Kagame administration.
Rwanda last week successfully frustrated efforts to resolve the stand-off between Uganda and Rwanda when a delegation from Kigali attending the second meeting of the joint Ad-hoc committee on the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Kampala, rejected Uganda’s view for a neutral team to verify the accusations both countries raised against each other.
Rwanda has since February this year accused Uganda of incarcerating and deporting her citizens, supporting elements hostile to Rwanda as well as illegal detention of Rwandan nationals. Uganda dismissed the allegations and said judicial process was followed to deport some of the Rwandan citizens who were found engaged in criminal acts. Some of the Rwandan Intelligence Agents arrested in Uganda are facing the General Court Martial for Abducting Rwandan Refugees from Uganda and illegally repatriating them back to Rwanda. A notorious one known as Rene Rutagungira is one of those whose case is yet to be concluded by the Courts of Law.
Days after the failed Kampala talks, Rwanda’s head of delegation who is also the country’s Minister of East African Community, Olivier Nduhungirehe, spoke to Rwanda’s state owned newspaper, The New Times and claimed that in Kampala, the delegation gave the example of the attack on Kinigi on the night of October 3 leading to the death of 14 people by armed rebels and 16 were wounded using machetes and hammers.
He is quoted as saying: “First, the evidence gathered from the crime scene, including phone handsets, from the assailants showed that they were in coordination with Uganda’s state minister for regional affairs, Philemon Mateke.”
“The Ugandan minister was particularly in contact with one Nshimiye, alias Governor, the head of special forces of RUD-Urunana, who lives in Kisoro District (south-western Uganda) with his family, protected, and is in close contact with Mateke,” Nduhungirehe added.
He said Mateke travels regularly in North Kivu (DR Congo) for his operations.
“When you have a cabinet minister directly involved in a terrorist attack that killed civilians, families and those who escaped fled to Uganda and are protected by the Ugandan army, what more do you want to see to understand that they lack good faith?” Nduhungirehe asked.
He further claimed that the aging minister has also been in touch with other rebel groups against Rwanda operating in DR Congo.
“Many things have been said about him but I am not going to speculate about his motivations. But this was not his first action against Rwanda because you remember that when FDLR’s La Forges Fils Bazeyi (spokesperson) and Theophille Abega (intelligence head) were arrested in December last year in eastern DR Congo, they were coming from Uganda, they had been meeting in Serena Hotel for two days with, guess who, Philemon Mateke,” he said.
But on Thursday, a seemingly furious minister wrote a statement he said was in his personal capacity, not as a government official, where he described the accusations as “assault on my character”. Mateke referred to the move as a despicable campaign to malign his character.
“I have been silent for long, not because I was unaware of these people’s campaign , but because I did not wish to dignify these accusations, in their sheer absurdity, with response. Recently however, these people’s antics crossed a redline whereby their strategy is not just to impugn my character as a person, but to build a critical mass of hate against me and in the end lay ground for even more sinister, violent schemes towards me and my family,” he said.
Mateke’s fears for his life coincide with an investigation story published on the 19th of February 2018 by this news website, where we indicated that Rwanda conceived a grand scheme to assassinate Ugandan officials, top security officers and journalists considered as threats to their interests. Minister Mateke was on the list of the people Kigali wanted to assassinate.
It is common knowledge that when Rwanda decides to eliminate a person, they first of all pile allegations on their targeted individual that range from ‘terrorist’ to ‘enemy of the state.’ This is meeant to later explain away the assassination as legitimate action in defence of Rwanda.
When former Rwandan intelligence officer, Patrick Karegyeya was assassinated in South Africa, Rwanda explained away his murder and said they “did not regret the death of the terrorist.”
The leader of Rwanda’s banned political party RNC, Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa, who has survived three assassination attempts in South Africa that are all blamed on the Government of Rwanda, has often been branded as a terrorist. He dismisses the attempt to brand him a terrorist as mere intolerance by Rwandan leaders to political opposition saying he leads a political organisation. He as been quoted in the past as having said Rwanda often opts for assasonation to settle political differences.
When Rwanda closed her borders, senior government officials including Nduhungirehe launched a social media campaign used to circulate their allegations against Uganda. But, Kampala objected to media responses and opted for diplomatic channels to resolve the impasse. To date, Kigali has not relented on their social media campaign, something Minister Mateke regards as absurd. Minister Nduhungirehe often takes to Social Media to lambast Uganda and is often joined by other Rwanda Government officials, as well as countless trolls and faceless sites opened for the sole role of attacking Uganda, President Museveni, military officials and media personalities.
“Throughout this sage between the two countries, only one of the two parties (Uganda) has been the adult in the room, carefully, painstakingly following diplomatic ethos in handling some of the outlandish accusations and behaviour from the other side. The other side (Rwanda) on the other hand has a social media troll as its chief negotiator, a propaganda wanabbe who ambitions l seems to be to topple Joseph Goebbels as history’s most infamous liar,” he says.
Mateke explains that the accusations are “so absurd that if they were not potentially dangerous to my person right now, would easily be laughed off and cast in the trashcan of history’s greatest absurdities.”
Rwanda’s Minister Nduhungirehe has come under fire by several commentators on social media who wondering whether Rwanda expects anyone to believe that Minister Mateke who is approaching 80 years of age can command a military operation to attack Rwanda.
“Did old man Mateke command the attack in Rwanda via Whatsapp? Nduhugirehe had better craft a better lie,” one of the comments read.
“When did Mateke become a soldier? Does he fly by wind to and from Rwanda and Uganda? Nduhungirehe is not serious. So, can we now address Mateke as ‘General Mateke?” reads another comment.