The Government of Rwanda has said that the two men who died following an incident near the border with Uganda were on the Rwandan territory when they confronted Rwandan security forces on patrol.
In a note verbale by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to their Ugandan counterparts, dated May 25, 2019, said the “incident took place in Tabagwe Cell, Tabagwe Sector, Nyagatare District, Republic of Rwanda.”
“The Ministry would like to inform that on the above named dates, Rwandan security forces intercepted a suspected smuggler on a motorcycle who had just crossed the border from Uganda at night through an ungazetted border point,” it said, rejecting claims by the Ugandan government, contained in a note verbale sent earlier Saturday, that the incident took place over 50m inside Ugandan territory.
Kigali says the security forces shot the two men – John Baptist Kyerengye, a Rwandan national and Alex Nyesiga, a Ugandan, after the former “resisted arrest and was immediately joined by others who attacked the officers with machetes.”
“The officers, in self-defense, fired and struck two individuals, Kyerengye John Baptist a Rwandan, and Nyesiga Alex, who later died,” the Ministry wrote to Uganda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In their own note verbale to their Rwandan counterparts, Uganda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicated that the incident had occurred at Kiruhura Village, Kashekye Parish, Kamwezi sub-county, Rukiga District in Uganda on the night of May 24.
But Rwanda says no member of its security forces crossed into Uganda, explaining that once the attacking group had crossed back into Uganda with their wounded associates, Rwandan security forces ceased pursuit.
The smugglers left behind a motorcycle, registration number RE 736 G, and their contraband, the Ministry said in the note verbale, according to sources.
The Ministry also noted that on the 25th of May, officials from both sides of the border had met on Saturday morning to examine the matter and determined that the incident had taken place on Rwandan soil.
“The Government of the Republic of Rwanda regrets the loss of life of the citizens of both countries and is ready to receive the body of her national now in Uganda,” the note said.
Adding that, “Government recalls its unwavering commitment to harmonious relations between the people of Rwanda and Uganda including those living in border areas.”
The Ministry’s official response to their Ugandan counterparts came hours after Dr Richard Sezibera, Rwanda’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, took to Twitter and described as “fake news” media reports that promoted Uganda’s version of events.
“Fake news: No such thing happened. Detailed response in a few!!” Sezibera tweeted Saturday.
Rwanda and Uganda have had tense relations lately with Kigali accusing Kampala of arbitrarily arresting, torturing and deporting Rwandan nationals. Rwanda says over 1000 innocent Rwandans are languishing in ungazetted detention centres in different parts of Uganda.
According to Kigali, many of those who have been deported have turned up at the border in very bad shape, some in wheelchairs, as a result of the ordeal they were subjected to in torture chambers.
The Rwandan government also accused Uganda of economic sabotage, after cargo trucks from Rwanda were impounded for months on several occasions with no clear explanation.
However, Uganda maintains that Kigali’s grievances are unfounded and instead criticised Rwanda’s travel advisory to its nationals.