March 4, 2019

Oxfam Director Byanyima Under Fire Over Her Uganda-Rwanda Comments

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In this Jan 25, 2015 courtesy photo, Winnie Byanyima shares light moment with President Kagame, then African Development Bank Group President Dr Donald Kaberuka, and Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote. It was during the AfDB annual summit in Kigali

The Executive Director of British charity Oxfam Winnie Byanyima is the latest to face the wrath following her comments on the Rwanda-Uganda relations in which she called on the leaders of the two countries to resolve the dispute or “ship out and let others restore peaceful relations”.

On Sunday evening, Byanyima sent a series of Tweets about the closure of the Gatuna border post and the responsibility of leaders to peacefully resolve the deteriorating relations.

On the closure of the border, she tweeted: “Now that should make us all angry and demand answers from our leaders. Closing borders and restricting movement of people and goods, is hurting incomes and will kill jobs. Hello [Museveni] [Kagame] you have some explanation to make to us citizens. Are you accountable Excellencies?”

Accused of making equivalence, she clarified: “I’m not taking a side here, and yes I’m making an equivalence. Both leaders need to shape up and manage state relations in our best interests- we the citizens. If they can’t, they should ship out & let others restore peaceful relations, human rights and protect jobs and incomes.”

By Monday morning, her posts had attracted about 100 responses with a few coming to her defense and the majority attacking her.

Rwanda’s State Minister for East African Affairs, Olivier Nduhungirehe, who is taking the front seat in making public comments about the ongoing Rwanda-Uganda deteriorating situation, was not holding his guns with Byanyima.

Responding to Byanyima this morning, he said: “Please speak for yourself and for your President, if your wish. You are not a citizen of #Rwanda, you failed to condemn human rights abuses against Rwandan citizens in #Uganda; therefore, you have no title or moral authority to lecture our President on anything.

Byanyima is also the wife of Kizza Besigye, the leading opposition politician in Uganda and founder of the biggest opposition party, the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC).

Byanyima is also a regular visitor to Rwanda due to the many conferences taking place in the country and has also had encounters with President Kagame on several occasions at international events.

Back in 2003, when Besigye, her husband was in exile in South Africa after he severed ties with President Museveni and formed his own party, Byanyima and her three year old son Anselm Kyamufumba Besigye left Uganda via Kigali in a Rwandair flight from Uganda. The incident was all over the news.

This had followed another incident at Gatuna border in which Anselm and his aunt Edith Byanyima were refused to cross to Rwanda by Uganda immigration officials. They were returned to Kampala.

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