Rwanda protests kidnap claims

Rwandan ambassador to Uganda Maj Gen Frank Mugambage. Photo by Abubakar Lubowa.

What you need to know:

Rwanda says the commissioner for refugees was out of order to claim that Kigali agents tried to kidnap an asylum seeker.

Kampala- The Rwandan government has criticised the commissioner for refugees, Mr David Apollo Kazungu, for reportedly making “absurd and ridiculous” statements in the media about attempted kidnappings of refugees in Uganda.

Rwandan ambassador to Uganda, Maj Gen Frank Mugambage, told journalists at his office in Kampala yesterday that there ‘is a framework under which refugee issues are discussed other than making irresponsible falsehoods in the media’.

“It’s very absurd such an official propagates statements about attempted kidnapping of Rwanda refugees,” Gen Mugambage said.

“He should have consulted us beforehand. Actually we are not happy about this. He has done it several times and for this last incident, we have written to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressing our concern,” he said.

The envoy repeatedly demanded action to be taken against Mr Kazungu by relevant authorities. “We are certainly concerned because this ‘kidnap thing’ has become a strain to our government, especially if it’s made by a senior government official.”

Mr Kazungu, in a snap response to the Daily Monitor said: “Since when did Rwanda start advising on the coordination of refugees here?”

“I haven’t received communication from what he [Mugambage] calls framework for discussing refugee issues, so I cannot comment,” Mr Kazungu said before hanging up.

Last week, Mr Kazungu told the press that the government had foiled an attempt by unknown individuals to kidnap a Rwanda refugee, Mr Protais Hakizimfura, from the Namayiba Bus Park in Kampala.

Mr Hakizimfura had gone to pick his wife who had travelled from Kigali.
Mr Kazungu said the refugee had showed proof that he had served time in jail for six years and was released before leaving Rwanda.

Rwandan authorities said yesterday Mr Hakizimfura is wanted for genocide charges with Gen Mugambage giving his own account of events on the day of the attempted kidnap.

The envoy narrated that a genocide survivor, Ms Grace Ruzindana, who had also travelled on the same bus raised an alarm on seeing Mr Hakizimfura, which attracted other people and later police, who arrested him.

“[Mr] Hakizimfura was one of the perpetrators who terrorised Mr Ruzindana’s village in Nyakabande on the outskirts of Kigali. When this lady saw him, she made an alarm because she was shocked that he was here,” Gen Mugambage explained.

But Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson, Patrick Onyango, last week gave Daily Monitor a different story.

He said Mr Hakizimfura was “waylaid by unknown individuals at Namayiba and in the process, a scuffle ensued, which drew the attention of bystanders and eventually police intervention”.

The refugee and his wife were then taken into custody and the assailants were arrested, according to police.

Yesterday Gen Mugambage inversely said: “No one is telling stories that genocide perpetrators are out there hiding but people will tell all sorts of stories that are easily believed how they are being persecuted because they want refugee status or to be given asylum in first world countries.”

Yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson, Mr Fred Opolot, acknowledged receipt of a ‘protest note’ from Rwanda, asking the government to reign in on the official [Mr Kazungu].

He said: “We have made arrangement and this issue will be resolved at diplomatic level.”

In October last year, a Rwandan dissident, Lt Joel Mutabazi, a former guard to President Paul Kagame was controversially arrested and handed over to Kigali government officials in a questionable circumstance that resulted in the suspension of a Ugandan police crime chief, Joel Aguma.