Rwanda Brings Fresh Arrests, Torture Charges Against Uganda

(Bloomberg) -- Rwanda accused Uganda of arresting and torturing 190 Rwandan citizens during the past couple of years, the latest allegations in a growing diplomatic dispute between the two African neighbors.

Uganda has also deported 986 Rwandan citizens, Rwandan Foreign Minister Richard Sezibera told reporters in the capital, Kigali. His comments come after the government warned Rwandans during the weekend against traveling to Uganda and closed one of its border points with the country, citing road construction.

“We have been in negotiations with Uganda for the last two years to sort out the issue,” Sezibera said, referring to the alleged arrests and torture of Rwandans. “Negotiations are ongoing.”

Rwandan traders in Uganda are being frustrated by authorities there and their goods are being blocked without an explanation, Sezibera said. Rwanda exported goods valued at only 91 million francs ($101,110) to Uganda, he said.

Sezibera also accused Uganda of supporting the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, a rebel group sheltering in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo that goes by the French acronym FDLR, made up of some of the fighters that carried out the genocide in 1994.

Uganda refuted all the allegations, saying it supports regional trade, does not support any parties fighting Rwanda, and that it welcomes all nationalities.

“However, Uganda expects that all visitors to the country, including Rwandans, to remain law abiding because those who act contrary to the law are dealt with in accordance with the law,” according to a letter posted on the Uganda Media Centre’s Twitter account.

Key Insights

  • While Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni historically shared a close relationship, the two countries fought a proxy war in Congo in the late 1990s.
  • Kagame was once an intelligence officer in Uganda and Museveni later supported the Rwanda Patriotic Front, Kagame’s rebel group that stopped the genocide.
  • Ugandan exports in the first nine months of 2018 rose 19 percent to $180.9 million, making it the third-biggest exporter to Rwanda after China and the United Arab Emirates, according to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda.

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