February 14, 2020

Rwanda, Uganda Yet to Agree on Nationals Detained on Their Jails


Inside the talks venue at Rwanda’s foreign ministry in Kigali with Rwanda’s delegation on right and Uganda’s on left

The Uganda government for the first time publicly cited a number of its nationals allegedly “detained in Rwanda” – adding a new layer to the painstaking talks between Kigali and Kampala.

The Communique of the third Ad Hoc Commission on the implementation of the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding between Rwanda and Uganda held in Kigali this Friday, also shows the two sides are yet to agree on exact number of the other’s nationals being held.

The communiqué also introduces different new elements, that will be handled by President Paul Kagame and Ugandan counterpart Yoweri Museveni, when they meet at Gatuna border on February 21.

The issue of Rwandans illegally detained in Uganda is one of “three outstanding issues” that Kigali has raised against Uganda. President Kagame has enumerated them on many different public fora.

However, Uganda’s Museveni has maintained there is “no fundamental problem” with Rwanda. He also barred Ugandan officials from commenting on Rwanda-Uganda conflict. Instead, Uganda’s concerns have constantly been published in obscure websites, all of which, Rwanda says are owned by Ugandan intelligence.

At the leaders summit in Angola two weeks ago, the final communiqué said Rwanda and Ugandan delegations exchanged lists of people detained by either side. Rwanda has publicly and repeatedly said hundreds of its nationals are held in Uganda. Many have been dumped at border with horrific torture wounds.

However, today was the first time Uganda publicly gave a number. During the opening segment of the Ad Hoc meeting today, which was open to media, Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa said there were 50 Ugandan nationals detained in Rwanda.

Rwanda’s State Minister in charge of East African Affairs, Olivier Nduhungirehe, on the same platform, outlined seven “demands” to Uganda, including naming specific Ugandan officials Kigali wants ‘held accountable’ for ‘facilitating’ Rwandan dissidents in Uganda.

Rwanda’s so called “demands” to Uganda

This reference to Ugandan officials in a negotiation, marked a serious upping of the stakes by the Rwandan delegation.

After hours, like it did happen with the 2nd Ad Hoc meeting in Kampala, little was settled. Nearly all the issues have been referred to the Presidents’ summit next week.

Item One of today’s communiqué on nationals detained by each side, reads: “Both parties committed to further verify the number and status of national of either party detained in each other’s country and report back through Note Verbale in three-week’s time.”

In other words, both sides dont seem to agree on the list each side is presenting to the other.

The Ad Hoc commission also agreed on a new element; an extradition treaty is going to be prepared by technical teams on both sides, to be signed by Kagame and Museveni at Gatuna border Summit.

It shows perhaps there was agreement on both sides that it wouldn’t be possible for any side to simply ferry and handover members of negative groups on either territory.

The final Communiqué from today’s Ad Hoc commission

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