Uganda releases 13 more Rwandans

Wednesday February 19 2020

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni (left)

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni (left) shakes hand with his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame after signing an agreement to end the hostility between the two countries in Luanda, Angola, on August 21, 2019. PHOTO | URUGWIRO 

JONATHAN KAMOGA
By JONATHAN KAMOGA
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Authorities in Uganda have released 13 more Rwandan nationals ahead of a meeting between the presidents of the two countries on Friday at Gatuna.

The release on Tuesday brings the total number of Rwandans released from detention in Uganda to 22, after nine others were released in January.

Uganda and Rwanda are mending relations that soured early last year.

Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa told a press conference in Kampala that the release follows a series of engagements that are part of last year’s Luanda memorandum of understanding to ease tensions between the two countries. Mr Kutesa said the latest release was “a further gesture of goodwill.”

He said of the 13 released, three had been arrested for espionage and security-related offences in 2019, were released and sent back to Rwanda but returned illegally and were rearrested.

Three others were spouses of the arrested, five were suspected of involvement in criminal activity, while two were on trial in the general court martial for illegal possession of fire arms.

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“It must be underscored that the withdrawal of the charges against these people, just as with the nine that were released on January 8, 2020, doesn’t in any way suggest that the accused are innocent of the charges for which they were being tried,” Mr Kutesa said.

He added that it was just an option that Uganda chose to facilitate normalisation of relations in the context of the Luanda process.

In a press release on Wednesday, Rwanda's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it welcomed the release of its citizens.

It added that it had already stopped the prosecution of 17 Ugandans and released three others who had completed their sentences.

- Additional reporting by The EastAfrican.

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