‘People’s Govt’ Wants Rwandan Envoy Given Full Access to Uganda’s Detention Facilities

Godfrey Atkins Katusabe, the Minister for Foreign Affairs in 'People's Government' addressing reporters on Thursday.

The opposition through their so-called ‘People’s Government’ have proposed that the Ugandan government gives unlimited access to Rwandan authorities to the detention facilities so as to clear any doubts regarding the allegations that many Rwandans are being detained illegally and tortured in Uganda.

This comes as relations between Uganda and Rwanda continue to sour following fresh accusations by the Kigali administration against Kampala.

Last week, Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Richard Sezibera said that whereas Rwanda champions regional integration, “we want practical things” and “we also put safety of our people before trade”.

He said over 190 Rwandans are known to have been arrested illegally in Uganda for the past two years. These are not allowed consular services as prescribed by international laws, he said.

Similar claims had been made by Rwanda’s State Minister for East African Affairs, Olivier Nduhungirehe.

But Uganda has repeatedly denied these claims, saying there have been no such arrest except for those that follow legal procedure.

On Thursday, Bukonzo West MP, Godfrey Atkins Katusabe who was recently appointed the Minister for Foreign Affairs in Kizza Besigye’s ‘People’s Government’ has asked that in order to come out clean on the allegations, Uganda should allow the Rwandan High Commissioner to Uganda Maj Gen Frank Mugambagye access detention facilities.

“We expected Kutesa [Uganda’s Minister for Foreign Affairs] to come clear. Maj Gen Mugambagye should be given unlimited access to jails and government should release Rwandan nationals reported to be rounded up, harassed, beaten and jailed without due process,” Katusabe told reporters at a news conference held at Kizza Besigye’s offices at Katonga Road in Kampala.

He took a swipe at President Yoweri Museveni and government whom he said have lost the moral high ground to lecture other countries on the rule of law since there have been numerous irregularities in criminal proceedings previously.

He emphasized the need for Rwanda and Uganda to resolve the current stalemate, adding that Uganda is too big to be reduced to personal vendetta between Museveni and his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame.

“Uganda is bigger than President Museveni. Uganda is about 41 million other people. It can’t be one person that wants to run the show on behalf of the country,” he said.

The ‘People’s Government’ has also proposed the withdraw of Ugandan troops from the border with Rwanda which they say could escalate the tension. They say the presence of troops on both sides of the border is a recipe for provocation that could trigger a full blown war.

“We don’t want war, we have seen enough of that in the past. There’s much more that unites us together than divides us”.

There have been suggestions that the grievances by both Uganda and Rwanda be presented to the regional body, EAC for a solution to be reached. Katusabe said that the alternative option for dialogue should be mediation by external players.

He proposed former U.S President, Bill Clinton and former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair as suitable mediators for the Rwanda-Uganda conflict.

“I propose Tony Blair and Bill Clinton because during their term of office, they held the two (Museveni and Kagame) in high esteem. They at some point referred to them as a speacial breed of leaders in Africa,” he said.

“They are in position to ask them ‘where did they lose it?’. And to ask how much time Museveni need to accomplish what his assignment is before he can retire”.

He as well expressed concern over what he termed as uncoordinated communication by officials in the Ugandan government which he said risks escalating the problem.

On her part, Ingrid Turinawe who acts as the Minister for Internal Affairs in Besigye’s ‘People’s Government’ said that President Museveni owes it to the Ugandans he leads to tell absolute truth on what the actual bone of contention is between Uganda and Rwanda.

“We as People’s Government ask that Museveni tells the truth and nothing but the truth. If he has personal problems with Kagame, Ugandans should not be dragged in it,” she said.

“This standoff has serious implications. We have Ugandans who study and cultivate in Rwanda as well as Rwandans who come to Uganda to study and cultivate,” Turinawe said.

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