Local leaders in the Ugandan districts bordering Rwanda have condemned the continued shooting of Ugandans inside Rwanda by Rwandan forces.
The leaders said they are disappointed that the killings have persisted despite the ongoing implementation of the memorandum of understanding signed between President Museveni and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame in August last year in Luanda, Angola.
On August 21 last year, the Ugandan presidential press secretary, Ms Linda Nabusayi, said during the meeting in Angola, the two leaders committed to refrain from actions that are capable of causing destabilisation or subversion in each other’s territory and also eliminate all factors that may create such perception and financing, training and infiltration of destabilising forces.
She added that the pact indicated that the two countries would resume cross-border activities, including movement of persons and goods.
Mr Patrick Besigye Keihwa, the Kabale District chairperson, and his Kisoro counterpart, Mr Abel Bizimana, yesterday said the shooting is a serious provocation that might result in acts of revenge on Rwandans living on the Ugandan side.
A Ugandan, Teojen Ndagijimana, aged 26, was shot dead on Saturday night by Rwandan security forces in Kumugu Trading Centre in Musanze District inside Rwanda, about three kilometres from the Uganda border.
He is the fourth Ugandan to be shot dead inside Rwanda by Rwandan forces since the Kigali government closed its border with Uganda at Katuna in February last year, stopping movement of goods and people from either country.
Rwanda declared Uganda a hostile country. Other Ugandans who have been shot dead by Rwandan forces are Alex Nyesiga, 32, who was killed in May last year together with a Rwandan national as they entered Rwanda from Uganda.
On November 9, two other Ugandans Job Ebyarishanga and Bosco Tuheirwe, both residents of Rukiga District near the border, were shot dead about 1km inside Rwanda. Rwanda police later claimed the deceased were smuggling raw tobacco into the country.
“Shooting and killing Ugandans suspected of smuggling in Rwanda is against human rights because there are other options that the Rwandan security operatives can use to discipline foreigners that commit offences in their country. Such trigger-hungry actions may lead our people to revenge because of such extrajudicial killings,” Mr Bizimana said.
“Presidents Museveni and Kagame came to power when the people in the two countries were living in harmony and it is their duty to undo anything that went wrong as soon as possible for the good of the people in the two countries,” he added.
Mr Keihwa said whereas no single Rwandan has been killed in Uganda since their country issued a directive stopping them from crossing into Uganda, when Ugandans continue being shot dead in Rwanda, they may be provoked into retaliatory action.
“Nobody should test the patience of Ugandans that have lost their relatives and friends in Rwanda shooting since last year. I condemn in totality the shooting and killing of Ugandans in Rwanda. Respecting people’s lives is very important, especially when there are other options such as courts of law where suspects are charged with the offences committed, but not extrajudicial killings. The presidents of the two countries should do their best to resolve any outstanding issues for the good of the people in either country,” Mr Keihwa said.
When contacted for a comment on the increasing frequency of shooting Ugandans in Rwanda yesterday, the Rwandan ambassador to Uganda, Maj Gen Frank Mugambage, said: “Talks are going on. Leave it at that.”
Mr Peter Mugisha, the Kisoro Resident District Commissioner, said they held a district security committee yesterday and discussed the shooting of Ndagijimana, adding that they were waiting for a response from the Ugandan Foreign Affairs ministry about when the body would be brought home.
“Because of the bureaucracy, we expect to receive the body of the Ugandan murdered in Rwanda on Wednesday. I have warned Ugandans against crossing to Rwanda many times. We are doing our best to calm the residents. After the district security meeting, I am moving to Murora Sub-county to calm residents, relatives and friends of the deceased,” Mr Mugisha said.