Museveni speaks on Rwanda rebel leader

Rebel leader. Lt Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa

President Museveni has distanced Uganda from supporting exiled Rwandan dissident, Lt Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa, as alleged by Rwanda, but pledged to investigate the matter further.

The President was addressing a gathering in Kabale District on Friday evening, shortly after his meeting with Gen Paul Kagame, his Rwandan counterpart, at the no-man’s land at the Katuna/Gatuna border point. The meeting was facilitated by presidents João Lourenço of Angola and Felix Tshesikedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

“I was at the border attending a meeting but an issue was raised that Uganda harbours people that support [Lt Gen] Kayumba Nyamwasa. We agreed to investigate the matter, although it is not true that Uganda harbours such people,” President Museveni told residents who had waited since morning to hear of the outcome of the talks.

Lt Gen Nyamwasa, who has declared intention to fight the government of Rwanda, is currently in exile in South Africa. He joined Uganda’s army in 1986, shortly after President Museveni had come to power, and served in it together with Mr Kagame until 1990, when they launched a war of their own against the then government in Rwanda.

When they took over power after the 1994 genocide, Lt Gen Kayumba gained influence in the establishment, rising to become Chief of Staff in the Rwandan army and head of intelligence. He was later posted to represent Rwanda in India as ambassador before he fell out with the Kagame regime and took refuge in South Africa.

He declared that he had founded and outfit named the Rwanda National Congress (RNC) and in 2010, he survived an assassination attempt on his life in South Africa.

President Museveni flashed back to the days when the Rwandan duo were close comrades, saying he was not sure what had set them apart.

Mr Museveni said: “I do not want to go to the media judging who is right or wrong.”

Explaining the release and repatriation to Rwanda of dozens of Rwandans who were formerly held by Ugandan authorities, President Museveni said: “I directed that the Rwandan nationals who were on a spying mission in Uganda be released as long as they did not kill or rape any woman. We also released two people who allegedly participated in a group that attacked Rwanda last year.”

The President sensed the palpable disappointment of the residents over the failure to reopen the border as they had hoped and moved to reassure them.

“What I like in this is the presence of our mediators in this summit. Keep supporting the NRM government, the border issue shall be resolved because we work on the truth,” he said.

The President made three stopovers at Mayengo in Katuna Town Council, Hakishenyi Trading Centre and Kabale Town.

Local leaders, including the Kabale District chairman, Mr Patrick Besigye Keihwa, the mayor for Katuna Town Council, Mr Nelson Nshangabasheija, and the mayor for Ryakarimira Town Council, Canon Enock Kazooba, expressed disappointment that the border remained closed.

Mr Kazooba cautioned residents against using undesignated crossing points into Rwanda before the border is formally reopened.

Over the past year, there have been several incidents in which Rwandan soldiers have shot dead Ugandans and Rwandans crossing through such points.

Mr Keihwa accused Rwanda of coming up with fresh allegations at every point of talks meant to resolve the border issue.

At the Katuna summit, Rwanda was not satisfied that Uganda had done enough to ensure that individuals who intend to overthrow the government in Kigali were not operating in Uganda.

It was agreed that Uganda investigates the allegation within 30 days and if both countries are satisfied, another meeting of the presidents will be called at Katuna within 15 days to reopen the border.