Thirty-two Rwandans have just been released Uganda. This is in light of news that on Monday a Ugandan delegation will be traveling to Rwanda to discuss the implementation of the MoU. Rwanda has maintained that its citizens are routinely kidnapped and tortured. Uganda has always denied that it has any significant numbers of illegally incarcerated Rwandans. Yet today it has released several from the dungeons of Ugandan Military Intelligence, CMI.
Rwanda has deployed considerable diplomatic efforts to secure the release of hundreds of its citizens illegally detained in Uganda. These are people that were arbitrary and illegally arrested and never given the right to a trial. In fact many, the vast majority have been held incommunicado, cut off from their extremely worried families. This is the situation that led to a travel advisory from the Rwandan government to its citizens against travel to Uganda. The resulting plunge in trade volumes seriously hurt Ugandan businesses, and traders. Towns on the Ugandan side of the border were most affected, many becoming ghost communities after a few months.
The presidents of Rwanda and Uganda signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Luanda, Angola last month with the aim to restore normal relations. The MoU specifically addresses the plight of Rwandans like the hundreds that were abducted, locked up, and suffered hard labor while multitudes are in the torture dungeons of Ugandan intelligence agencies, most notoriously CMI. The other issue is Uganda’s hosting, backing, and facilitating groups sworn to destabilize Rwanda, foremost of them Kayumba Nyamwasa’s RNC.
The release of the 32 is creditable to the untiring fight for Rwandan prisoners in Uganda by the leadership in Kigali. The release of these 32 people, while welcome, is far from enough. Hundreds of innocent Rwandans remain illegally detained in the neighboring country and there is no reason that should be so. All have to be released in order for full normalcy of relations to return.
It is also important to note that the MoU also provided for a cessation of hostile support, funding and training of destabilizing elements against Rwanda. One has to hope that this is a first step of real commitment by Uganda to do the right thing, and adhere by all the terms of the MoU.