His excellency Paul Kagame the president of republic of has today revealed that he has talked to his counterpart and president of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni concerning the ongoing stampede at the border.
Kagame while appearing at national retreat event echoed that he had taken time to discuss with Museveni about the pressing issues at hand that have stayed stagnant for 2 years in a row.
He further added that the discussion had much emphasis on alleged rebel leaders that are believed to be funded by the Ugandan government,
arrest and torture of Rwanda nationals in Uganda.
In his speech, he says he raised the issue of businessman Tribert Rujugiro who runs business in Uganda and “bankrolls groups that seek to destabilize Rwanda.”
Mr Rujugiro, a very wealthy man, runs the Meridian Tobacco Company, a $20 million (Shs 72 billion) operation which opened in Arua last year. The plant is a subsidiary of Pan-African Tobacco group, the manufacturers of Supermatch cigarettes.
Kagame in his speech, accused Museveni of feigning unawareness about the said tycoon.
“Initially, he (Museveni) said he did not know him, then I proved to him that he knew him,” Kagame said unreservedly.
This is the first time since relations worsened about three years ago, that Kagame is divulging the nitty gritty of his closed-door back-and-forth meeting with Museveni.’
According to reports, Kagame in the past weeks delegated the Rwandan envoy to Uganda, Gen Frank Mugambage to request that Uganda closes the businesses owned by Rujugiro.
On economic grounds, President Museveni didn’t accept the request, and two weeks later according to the reports, Rwanda reacted by closing its border, and blocking its citizens from crossing into Uganda.
Kagame further revealed at the event held at the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) Combat TrainingCentre in Gabiro, Gatsibo District, that he and Museveni talked about the numerous Rwandans that have been arrested and tortured in Uganda.
These, he says, are often targeted for not supporting the Rwandan rebel groups operating in Uganda.
One such, he said, is Rene Rutagungira who’s been detained for 2 years in Kampala.
Kigali claims the Rwandan National Congress (RNC), a dissident group based in Uganda failed to recruit Mr Tutagungira and worked with Ugandan authorities to arrest and torture him.
Rutagungira was picked from a bar in Kampala in 2017 before being detained and interrogated by the military intelligence.
He was accused of facilitating the killing and abduction of Rwandan dissidents and refugees in Uganda. He later arraigned before the Makindye General Court Martial, along with a number of senior police officers and accused among others of kidnapping former presidential bodyguard Lt Joel Mutabazi in Kampala.
Kagame says the relations with Uganda had lately run out of hand before he backed the decision to close the border.
“Things are hitting us in the face, our people are being arrested and you wonder why we are not doing things that would ensure that our people, students, and all have what they want,” he said.
“It appears the only leeway for Rwandans to be safe in Uganda is if they go saying they are against Rwanda. But I wouldn’t advise anyone to do that, no Rwandan should be against their country. My advice is that Rwandans should not go there unless they are sure.”
Kagame’s speech is seen as an attempt to pressurize Museveni to speak out on the arrests of Rwandans and what he is doing about it as president.
In his speeches, Museveni has carefully avoided commenting on Rwanda’s grievances apart from the press conference at State House Entebbe where he said there wasn’t any “fundamental problem” between Uganda and Rwanda.
At the Rwandan border, the shutdown caused a lot of strain mostly to businessmen trying to cross with goods.
Those with perishables reported enormous losses.
There were also concerns of Rwandans on the other side who needed to cross to Uganda for essential goods and services, such as food, and even education.
The Rwandan leader said the inconvenience was regrettable, but noted that some them don’t need to cross to Uganda because some of these goods and services can be accessed locally.
“It’s a shame we still have people crossing the border to get water on the other side, even where there is a water point on our side within the same distance. I don’t want to blame residents. I blame the leaders, even in places with no water sources,” he said.
Kagame at the event expressed resolve to protect his government, even if it means giving his own life.
“You can shoot me and kill me if you like,” he said.
“But there is one thing I am certain about: you can never bring me to my knees. Men and women of Rwanda, you must never go to your knees, you should never accept that. We are better than that.”
Kagame also had a veiled response to President Museveni, who has often scoffed at potential threats from immediate neighbors.
“I have heard people saying that nobody can destabilize their country. I agree with them, but in the same breath, you shouldn’t seek to destabilize others. That’s a fair deal. I hope people will give us a chance to deal with our problems,” Kagame retorted.
He added, “My choice is to be a friendly neighbours, and anyone who chooses that they will never find us wanting on that. We are honest friends and allies with anyone who wants to live with us as friends.
“The second choice is to let me be, each one for oneself. While I don’t prefer that I’d respect your choice. The 3rd is when you don’t like me and decide to keep causing me problems. I will create capacity to contain those problems but it’ll not come from me”