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Once we mobilise, you can’t survive, says Museveni

Day of clashing elephants: 504 kilometres away in Rwanda, President Kagame accused Uganda of training RNC rebels and revealed that he had met with Museveni to fix the problem but without much success. In Kampala, Museveni warned that his government has the capacity to not only defend the country but also crush any aggression

POLITICS | Uganda’s capacity to defend itself or fight back against foreign aggression is “very big” and no one can “survive” once the country mobilises against enemies, President Museveni has said.

In an ominous warning issued without specifics, Museveni followed up on a similar message 24 hours earlier in Bunyangabu District in Rwenzori, saying that his government was well prepared to handle any aggression aimed at destabilising Uganda.

“Those who want to destabilize our country do not know our capacity. It is very big. Once we mobilise, you can’t survive,” President Museveni said while commissioning factories in Mukono District on Saturday Saturday.

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Although he did not name any particular country, there is no prize for guessing that his warning was directed at Rwanda, whose president Paul Kagame was almost at the same time elaborating on the recent tensions between the two countries.

Addressing leaders at the 16th National Leadership Retreat, Umwiherero, in Gabiro, eastern Rwanda on Saturday, Kagame took time to explain the strained Rwanda-Uganda ties that has seen Rwanda block its citizens from travelling to Uganda amid strong accusations that Uganda was harbouring dissidents training to destabilise his government.

“We have been talking, myself and my counterpart [Museveni], I sent my senior officials. In one of the meetings with Uganda authorities, I told my counterpart, ‘President, I’m begging with you, deal with this matter,’” Kagame said.

Earlier in the week, The Observer newspaper published detail of Museveni’s meeting with Kagame, revealing that the Rwandan leader had demanded that Museveni rein in the tobacco ‘magnate’ whom he accused of sponsoring Rwanda National Congress (RNC) rebels.

Tribert Rujugiro is a Rwandan businessman with a tobacco factory in West Nile and other interests in the private sector.During the launch of his factory, President Museveni was the chief guest.

“Initially, he [Museveni] said he did not know him [Rujugiro], then I proved to him that he knew him,” Kagame said.

“I have asked my counterpart of Uganda whether there is anything they have against Rwanda and promised I would go back and address it, whatever it was. I said ‘Rwanda doesn’t want this problem, I don’t want it. And he could not point out any.”

Kagame confirmed the strong accusations his ministers have levelled against Uganda in the last few weeks, saying almost a carbon copy of what his foreign affairs deputy minister Oliiver Nduhungirehe had said in January.

“It appears the only leeway for Rwandans to be safe in Uganda is if they go saying they are against Rwanda. But I wouldn’t advise anyone to do that, no Rwandan should be against their country. My advice is that Rwandans should not go there unless they are sure,” he said.

“These Rwandans are being arrested by Ugandan authorities on a tip-off of other Rwandans, by the RNC agents. RNC has been given a free hand to recruit in Uganda.Those who refused to be recruited by RNC have been framed, many arrested.”

Kagame appears to have decided to confront the matter head-on himself after President Museveni’s comments on Thursday.

“No one will disturb the peace in Uganda. The peace will be maintained. The ADF are in [DR] Congo and the conflict will remain there. Whoever wants to cause conflict in Kasese, will not manage. ADF cannot come here so do not be scared,” Museveni said during celebrations to mark the International Women’s Day in Bunyangabu.

Save for the carefully veiled messages, Museveni had not come out openly to address himself on the tension with Uganda even after such a strong accusation that Uganda was habouring and training Rwandan rebels. It remains to be seen if he will now address himself on the matter after Kagame’s revelations about their confidential discussions.

However, Uganda has made its official position known in the matter through Foreign Affairs minister Sam Kutesa, who denied the country is hosting any rebels at all.

President Museveni commissioned two factories at Buikwe in Lugazi, five factories at Mbalala and a bus assembly plant at Namanve Industrial Park. He assured the investors of security.

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