Kampala/Kabale- The Minister for Presidency, Ms Esther Mbayo, has warned Ugandans against going to Rwanda after incidents of shooting to death of suspected smugglers.
In an August 4 leaked letter titled; ‘Border incursion by Rwandan security forces on Ugandan territory’ by Ms Mbayo to Resident District Commissioners, she told Ugandans that it is too risky for them to travel to Rwanda.
“A directive to you all the RDCs, especially those in the districts bordering Rwanda, to inform the Ugandans of the criminal Rwanda government policy of shooting smugglers that are not armed, although what they are doing is illegal.
Ugandans should stop going into Rwanda or those who go should do so at their own risk,” the letter reads in part.
Efforts to get a comment from Ms Mbayo about the letter were futile as her mobile phone contacts were switched off.
Ms Judith Nabakooba, the Minister of Information and ICT, did not respond to our questions about the letter.
However, sources at the President’s office confirmed that the letter is genuine, but the minister had released it without making deep consultations.
The relationship of the two countries has been tense with each accusing the other of funding groups that stabilise their governments.
The June 2020 last virtual meeting of the ad hoc commission for the normalisation of relations between the states ended without a position, especially on the opening of the Gatuna border point.
In the new directives, Ms Mbayo said: “As for the Rwanda soldiers infiltrating into Uganda to kidnap people, the concerned agencies are already briefed as to how to deal with the provocation”.
The RDCs in the border districts with Rwanda said they had not yet officially received the letter, but they had seen it circulating around social media groups.
“I have seen it on WhatsApp, but I have not received the letter,” Mr Peter Mugisha, Kisoro RDC District, said yesterday.
Mr Darius Nandinda, his Kabale counterpart, too denied receiving the letter.
The Kisoro District chairperson, Ms Abel Bizimana, said the directives will fuel the tensions.
“As people living at the border, we have been choked down by the closure of the Rwandan border with Uganda before coronavirus hit. All we need is to see the conflict ending,” Mr Bizimana said.
Mr Julius Barusya, the district councillor for Kamuganguzi Sub-county in Kabale, said banning Ugandans from crossing into Rwanda was not necessary because the borders are closed as per the Health ministry guidelines.