Two of President Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni’s ministers have rebuked President Paul Kagame and his Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) for claiming that Uganda could have supported recent attacks by M23 rebels in DR Congo.
The November 07 attack by M23, whose major raid was in the 2012-2013 period, saw many flee to Uganda via the Bunagana border point in the South Western Ugandan district of Kisoro.
Days after the attack, on November 09, RDF issued a statement titled ‘RDF not involved in M23 attack in DRC’ denying involvement in the attack.
The Rwandan army irked Kampala when it said M23 had launched attacks from the Ugandan side.
“The Rwanda Defense Force is neither involved in nor supports any activities of the ex-M23 armed group. It has been reported that an armed group believed to be ex-M23 rebels, on Sunday evening 7 November 2021, crossed into DRC from Ugandan territory where it is based, and attacked and occupied the villages of Tshanzu and Runyoni,”
“The ex-M23 group in question did not seek refuge in Rwanda during their retreat from DRC in 2013, but has been based in Uganda, from where this attack originated, and to where the armed group retreated. Any reports, in the media or by officials in the region, that the ex-M23 armed group originated from or retreated to Rwanda, is propaganda aimed at undermining the good relations between Rwanda and DRC.”
A day later on November 10, junior foreign affairs minister in charge of international relations, Henry Okello Oryem, dismissed RDF’s claims as ‘rubbish,’ adding that that calm had been restored.
“That is rubbish. What do you want me to tell you? Rubbish,” said Minister Oryem.
“The situation is calm, it is positive now and most of those who fled are now returning to their homes in DRC.”
Oryem went on to say that Uganda would continue to welcome refugees because her people have previously been refugees anywhere else.
“Uganda is a welcoming country for refugees. We are Pan Africanists and people are free to come to Uganda to stay, or to go. And those who have chosen to stay in Uganda, will stay in Uganda, be hosted as refugees and at an appropriate time, they will be able to go back home,” said the minister.
“In the 70s (1970s), Ugandans fled this country under Idi Amin in hundreds and thousands. Idi Amin was killing Ugandans, throwing them into the rivers for crocodiles to eat them. Ugandans were running to Tanzania, Kenya to take refuge. All those are memories. Now, tomorrow, if fire burns you, where will you run to?”
Appearing on NTV Uganda’s On the Spot show on November 11 night, Security Minister Maj Gen (Rtd) Jim Muhwezi emphasized Oryem’s position.
“The allegations made by Rwanda that Uganda was the launchpad in the recent M23 attacks in DRC are baseless and regrettable,” said Muhwezi.
“Uganda respects International law and cannot cross borders to cause insecurity in the neighborhood.”