On 05 Mar 19, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uganda Hon Sam Kuteesa released a statement regarding the Rwanda-Uganda border row following the concerns raised by Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Richard Sezibera during a press conference held on the same day, while clarifying on the border standoff.
In his statement, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uganda completely denied all the three main issues of concern raised by the Republic of Rwanda, which include; (i) ongoing arrests, harassment, torture, incarceration without consular access and deportation; (ii) Uganda providing safe haven for dissidents with intent to destabilize Rwanda including RNC, P5, and FDLR; and (iii) sabotaging the free movements of Rwandan goods to Uganda and exports transiting through Uganda.
Whereas all the three issues of concern raised by the Government of Rwanda are factually founded, Uganda remains adamant by denying all the counts, and ironically, indirectly accused Rwanda of involvement in the acts of terrorist attacks with the assassination of Muslim Sheiks, State Attorney Joan Kagezi, MP Ibrahim Abiriga and others. It is therefore important to note the status of these alleged assassination cases by Rwanda.
The story behind the purported assassinations by Rwanda
Since 2012, about seventeen (17) Muslim clerics were shot by unknown assailants. Uganda’s Police has in most of the cases linked the incidents to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) and promised investigations.
Moreover, on 30 Dec 2016, President Museveni blamed the killing of Muslim clerics on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebels based in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and said he had petitioned President Joseph Kabila to act. The President was speaking at Entebbe State House, while hosting Muslims at the Iftar dinner. The President’s remarks came after the Mufti of Uganda, Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubajje, petitioned him on the continued killing of Muslim leaders in the country.
Consequently, in 2017, Uganda police raided Nakasero mosque and arrested 11 Muslims over acts of criminality. During the same month another mosque in Kiwatule was raided and 13 more Muslims were arrested.
In the same vein, former Uganda Police Chief, Gen Edward Kale Kayihura had repeatedly issued statements and comments linking the assassinations to the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group based in the eastern part of DR Congo. Appearing before the media on December 30, 2014, at Naguru Police Headquarters, a Kampala suburb, Gen Kayihura told the journalist: “While we are not ruling out other motives in individual cases, there is strong evidence linking these murders to Al Qaeda-affiliated ADF. We have credible intelligence which indicates that the majority of these clerics have been targeted because of their refusal to embrace extremist theocratic ideology; one which promotes the use of violence and terrorism as a tool of social, religious and political change.”
These statements were followed by series of arrests of several Muslim leaders and on 25 Aug 2017, a Ugandan High Court sentenced a Muslim group leader and three associates to life in prison on “terrorism” charges. Sheikh Mohammad Yunus Kamoga, who heads the Tabliq group, and 13 others were arrested and charged with “terrorism” and the murder of other Islamic group leaders. During a High Court session, Kamoga and three Tabliq members were sentenced to life, while two others were given 30 years each. The cases were related to the murders of nine Muslim scholars; of Joan Kagezi, a prosecutor working on the 2010 Kampala bombings case, in March 2015; of an army officer in November 2016 who had defected from a Ugandan-led rebel group in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo; and of Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIGP) Felix Kaweesi in March, 2017. In each case, the victims were shot dead by motorbike-riding assassins, and in each case, Muslim suspects were rounded up.
As this wasn’t enough, on 6 June 18, during the State of the Nation Address at the Kampala Serena Hotel, President Museveni again linked the ADF to the rising criminality, kidnaps and murders of mainly women, assassination of high profile murders including that of AIGP Andrew Felix Kaweesi, several Muslim clerics and prosecutor Joan Kagezi. He told the Nation that most of the alleged murderers have been arrested and are due to appear in court.
It is important to clarify that in all these cases, there is no Rwandan national among the suspects who have been arrested and detained on charges of murder and terrorism.
Intriguingly, whereas Ugandan judiciary was busy trying the suspects, Muslims in Uganda have instead accused President Museveni’s government of persecution and demanded that the police authorities explain endless arrests of their leaders on what they called bogus charges under the guise of police investigations because no one has been found guilty of the crime.
The Muslim leaders and many other Ugandans have implicated Museveni himself in the killing of the Sheiks. They argue that most if not all those who have been targeted in the systematic killing of Clerics belong to the Kibuli faction that is opposing the government backed Old Kampala faction. The argue that the Kibuli faction is historically linked to Buganda kingdom which Museveni is struggling to weaken and that there is an ongoing government backed land grabbing and Islam in Uganda has valuable land thus why Museveni has targeted the Moslem clerics opposed to his agenda.
In similar incidents, on 30 March 2015, Uganda’s Senior Principal State Attorney Joan Kagezi was shot dead by unknown gunmen trailing her on a motorcycle at Kiwatule, Kampala suburb driving her children home from school. Prior to her death, at least nine Muslim clerics had been murdered in a similar way, with gunmen arriving on the scene riding motorcycles and disappearing using the same after committing the crime. By January 2017, the investigators of the case had not made any headway into the murder, except the recording of witness statements, scene of crime and ballistic reports. Indeed, the suspects who were arrested in connection with the murder were released or charged with other cases. At the time, Jane Kajuga, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) spokesperson, told the media that; “there is no single person who has been charged with the Kagezi murder. We have not been availed with any evidence that warrants a prosecution.”
In reference to the DPP’s office, there are discrepancies within the evidence on the police record and they suspect that the intelligence security agencies could have influenced the recording of the statements pinning senior police officers. Again here, in all testimonies and investigations conducted, there is no Rwandan national mentioned among the suspects.
As regards the death of the Member of Parliament Abiriga, who was killed on 8 June 18, he was assassinated in similar manner as previous murders of Joan Kagezi and AIGP Felix Kaweesi. He was shot by two people who were riding on a boda-boda, killed together his brother Saidi Buga near his home in Matugga, Wakiso District, driving his yellow Volkswagen.
Subsequently, on 20 June 2018, President Museveni addressed Parliament on government’s strategy to defeat rising cases of murders and kidnaps following the assassination of Arua Municipality MP Ibrahim Abiriga. In his speech President Museveni rolled out a nine point strategy which he said will be employed by government in defeating crime. Though he attributed murder cases to the negligence and collusion with the criminals by some elements in the security services, he remained tightlipped on the arrest of former Inspector General of Police Kale Kayihura and other senior police officers despite the New Vision publication which linked Gen Kale Kayihura’s arrest to the murder of former Assistant Inspector General of Police Andrew Felix Kaweesi. President Museveni did not mention suspects in the murder of Ibrahim Abiriga; he only gave the country’s long history of insecurity, which he said ended with the defeat of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel outfit and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in 2007.
It is worthy to note, that to date the Government of Uganda continues to search for the people who killed Abiriga. Investigations have not made headways in connecting the links and as of today there are no tangible clues upon which the office of the DPP can sanction the file.
A quick reflection about Abiriga before his assassination is that he was among the initiators of the move to amend the constitution to remove article 102b so as to have the 75 year upper age limit for the president removed which was highly opposed in parliament and among many Ugandans, hence a good target for assassination for those who wanted to eliminate him and implicate the opposition members who had opposed the lifting of age limit.
It is on record that before his killing, he had complained that President Museveni had refused to pick his phone calls for six months; however no one knows the grudges which had developed between him and Museveni because he was among enthusiast supporters of NRM.
In a nutshell, the DPP office has no tangible clues upon which it can sanction the file to prosecute all the suspects arrested in connection to all the murder cases mentioned in the statement released by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uganda. All cases are being handled by the General Court Martial.
After evaluating the evidence presented in each case, there is no credible evidence so far to show that the suspects were involved in the murder of all the mentioned cases. The key witnesses seem to have been coached to implicate the suspects and were promised monetary rewards to implicate the former IGP Kale Kayihura, hence bringing in Rwanda.
And what is more fascinating is the fact that of all the Rwandan nationals who are still languishing in Ugandan detention centers, none of them has been suspected to have been involved in any of the afore-said assassinations and murders. The assassination are widely believed to have been sanctioned by President Museveni to eliminate his enemies considering the nature how the operation is executed (mode of operation), confidence of the assailants, weapons used and efforts by CMI and ISO to distort the investigation by falsely implicating Gen Kale Kayihura and Rwanda.
As The Great Lakes Eye scans the region for you, watch this space!