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Mwenda has zipped his mouth so allow me be your trusted advisor, Taremwa tells Museveni, Kagame

The last friend that you and Museveni share is Andrew Mwenda whose claim to fame is being a fearless investigative journalist. Indeed, back in the day he played a big role in reconciling the two of you when things were not okay between our two countries. But strangely for the current cold war between Uganda and Rwanda, Mwenda has zipped his mouth and gone numb!

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COMMENTARY | DR BARNABAS TAREMWA

Your Excellency President Yoweri Museveni and President Paul Kagame;

Sendo Cleaners

The letter I wrote last time generated I heated debate both in Uganda and Rwanda. I am happy there is dialogue and debate beginning to take shape on the current bad blood between Kampala and Kigali leadership.

From the response of the citizens of the two countries, it emerged there are issues we need to address as sister countries through dialogue.

One of the responses that caught my attention was from my comrade Fidel Gatsinzi who seemed to represent views of Rwandans who allegedly were arrested while in Uganda, tortured and deported without going through the due process of the law if they had any case to answer.

To comrade Gatsinzi, I am compelled to believe his claim that he was arrested. I’m not sure about the claims of torture because since his arrest I have never spoken to him or met him. But in his letter he implied that he was tortured. I strongly condemn torture. It is a barbaric and cowardly methodology of extracting information from suspects for whatever reason.

As we all know, if anybody is subjected to torture, they will tell you what you want to know not necessarily the truth. President Museveni has repeatedly condemned torture as a method of interrogating suspects in many of his public speeches. More so torture is a crime against humanity under national and international laws.

Secondly, I’m compelled to think that maybe there is another side to Gatsinzi’s claims. Maybe something Gatsinzi is not telling us. Especially, because there are serious allegations against him by fellow Rwandans and refugees who live in Uganda.

They claim that he was involved in operations of kidnapping Rwandan refugees and forcefully taking them back to Rwanda. Also we have many Rwandans who freely live and work in Uganda. So the question is why was is it Gatsinzi who was deported out of thousands of Rwandans in Uganda?

But like I said earlier, whether Gatsinzi was involved in any crime or was merely suspected, he should have been charged in courts of law, and if he had to be deported, it should have been done legally.

Therefore, operational hiccups by security agencies like the case of Gatsinzi are making a bad situation worse. I would want to call upon the security operatives and their commanders to follow the law when they suspect anyone of committing a crime whether a national or a foreigner.

The due process of the law should not be disregarded. So I would like to advise Gatsinzi to seek for justice if he believes he never committed a crime while in Uganda.

Another response to my letter was the cry from a wife of a refugee who was allegedly kidnapped and forcefully taken to Rwanda by Rwandan agents working with some elements in Uganda Police Force.

Prossy Boonabana alleges that her husband, Rwema Gendarme was kidnapped from Uganda by Rwandan agents in 2015 and has since been held incommunicado and tortured.

Apart from her husband who was kidnapped, Boonabana lists a number of people that were killed by Rwandan agents in connivance with elements in Uganda Police Force. Her accusations should be seriously investigated by the government of Uganda and UNHCR should take keen interest in the case.

The accusations are very serious and are crimes against humanity.

It is known that there are some police officers in Uganda being investigated over illegal repatriation of Rwandan refugees and some are in detention over these crimes while others are on the run.

However, there is one thing that will complete the puzzle in this matter. The motivation to kidnap and repatriate Rwandan refugees came from Rwanda. Uganda Police officers didn’t wake up and decide they wanted to kidnap and repatriate these refugees to Rwanda. So they committed these crimes with accomplices from Rwanda.

In the spirit of openness and transparency, Rwanda should produce those who were working with the wrong elements in Uganda police to kidnap Rwandan refugees in Uganda.

The international community should intervene and ensure that the perpetrators on the two sides- Rwanda and Uganda are brought to book.

I want to believe this was not a state sanctioned scheme, so why should such rogue operations perpetuated by individual’s compromise relations of Uganda and Rwanda? These crimes were committed by individuals and they should be answerable. Rwanda and Uganda should cooperate and ensure individuals involved on both sides are apprehended.

The conversation Uganda should be having with Rwanda is for Rwanda to hand over accomplices that worked with Ugandan police officers to kidnap Rwandan refugees on Ugandan territory.

Is this asking for too much and does this require drumming up for war or obstruction of freedoms of citizens to exercise free movement of goods and services across borders.

There are accusations from some sections in Rwanda claiming that Rwanda National Congress (RNC) has cells in Uganda bent on destabilizing the Kigali leadership. But this is a matter that can be easily sorted.

The simple answer is dialogue and engagement. The two countries can set up a joint team to come to the bottom of this problem. This can only be done if Rwanda engages government genuinely instead of using proxies and obscure internet sites to accuse Uganda – let there be direct contact and talking between Kigali and Kampala.

In that line I would like to commend a young man in Rwanda by names of Ramma Isibo who also wrote and advised Kigali leadership to use their phones better and talk with Kampala.

Once again I want to appeal to President Museveni and President Kagame to resolve the current issues between Uganda and Rwanda. These issues are growing bigger by the day.

The little I know about President Museveni is that one of his biggest weapons is patience but I would want to tell you Mr. President that patience has limitations. More often the longer you wait the bigger the problem becomes.

Patience could have worked for you in 1976, 1986, in 1996, in 2006 but today the dynamics are different.

I also suspect that you don’t have many advisors you believe in. Remember during the wedding of comrade Noble Mayombo many years back, you told us you take advice from only three people. Number one was Noble Mayombo, the second you said was Gen Kale Kayihura and number three was Amama Mbabazi.

However, as we all know one is dead and the other two are out of action. From this context I imagine you may be in a dilemma of getting a trusted advisor.

I volunteer to be a one day advisor to you Your Excellency.

To President Paul Kagame, I well know that you have a lot in common with President Museveni. You also don’t have advisors you listen to; those advisors that I have always known to be closer to you are also long gone.

The last friend that you and Museveni share is Andrew Mwenda whose claim to fame is being a fearless investigative journalist. Indeed, back in the day he played a big role in reconciling the two of you when things were not okay between our two countries. But strangely for the current cold war between Uganda and Rwanda, Mwenda has zipped his mouth and gone numb!

For the sake of unity, peace and development of our region, let us start talking-lets have dialogue.
To my friends and relatives who are asking why I am involved in this debate, and those who would want to suspect that I have a side in this matter, let me assure you that as a revolutionist in the late evening of my life, none of the two governments (Rwanda or Uganda) can afford to compromise me.

My hobbies and passion are known-I’m an environmentalist and an animal breeder. So be rest assured that being compromised is out of question. I’m just crying out to ensure that unity, peace and brotherhood remain the bedrock of the two sister countries of Uganda and Rwanda.

Dr Barnabas Taremwa
Regional Cadre 311

Dr Barnabas Taremwa is a bush war comrade who participated in both the NRA liberation war alongside Museveni and Kagame and the RPA liberation of Rwanda.

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