Uganda issues protest note to Rwanda over deadly border shooting

Saturday May 25 2019

Uganda's minister of Foreign Affairs, Sam

Uganda's minister of Foreign Affairs, Sam Kutesa. FILE PHOTO  

By JOB BWIRE

Uganda on Saturday wrote a note verbale to Rwanda after Rwandan soldiers allegedly entered its territory and killed two men, amid rising tensions between the leaders of the two countries.
Relations between Rwanda's Paul Kagame and Uganda's Yoweri Museveni, once close allies who backed each other into power, have turned deeply hostile in recent months, with the pair trading accusations of espionage, political assassinations and meddling in each other's backyards.

Uganda said the alleged raid occurred around 8pm on Friday at a border post near the Ugandan village of Kiruhura in Rukiga District in the west of the country.
Uganda’s ministry of foreign affairs on Saturday said they were ready to hand over the body of one of the victims, John Batista, 25 to the government of Rwanda on May 27, 2019. The other victim was identified as Alex Nyesiga, a Ugandan.

Authorities said the soldiers entered "about 50 metres into Ugandan territory" in pursuit of Batista, a businessman and resident of Nkoma cell, Ntarabwe Parish, Burasirazooba sub county, Nyagatare District in Rwanda, who rode into Uganda on a motorbike laden with goods from Uganda but made a U-turn on seeing the soldiers.
"The victim resisted attempts to arrest him, and he was shot to the head and killed instantly," reads part of the statement adding that Nyesiga who tried to intervene was also shot dead.
The soldiers then retreated into Rwanda.

"The government is ready to hand over the body of the deceased Rwandan national on Monday 27th May 2019 at Katuna. The government of Uganda protests in the strongest terms the violation of its territorial integrity by Rwandan soldiers and the criminal, brutal and violent act by the Rwandan soldiers, on Ugandan territory against unarmed civilians. The ministry demands that action be taken against the perpetrators of this attack. The government of Rwanda is strongly urged to take appropriate measures to avoid recurrence of such provocative incidents in the future," the statement adds.

Rwandan officials were not available for comment.
The border is porous and traders often smuggle goods from Uganda into Rwanda.
Rwanda has drastically reduced the quantity of imports from Uganda a few months ago and its citizens are banned from crossing over to Uganda.
Uganda however has not imposed tit-for-tat measures.
Uganda’s Police spokesperson, Mr Fred Enanga earlier said 44 Rwandans had been intercepted illegally entering southwestern Uganda recently and had been handed back in a "very peaceful manner."

The row between the two strongmen risks dragging in their neighbours, threatening economic integration and regional stability in an already conflict-prone swathe of the continent.
The standoff escalated dramatically in March when Rwanda publicly accused Uganda of abducting its citizens and supporting rebels bent on overthrowing the government.
Museveni -- who has admitted meeting, but not endorsing, anti-Kagame rebels -- harbours his own suspicions about his erstwhile ally. His officials have accused Rwandans in Uganda of spying, and some have been detained by military courts or deported.

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