Uganda releases more Rwandan prisoners to ease tension

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Uganda on Tuesday handed over 13 more Rwandan nationals, who were under custody, to immigration for deportation as the two neighboring countries seek to ease tension.

Sam Kutesa, Uganda’s minister of foreign affairs, who handed over the Rwandans to immigration in the presence of Noel Mucyo, first counsellor at the Rwandan embassy, said this is a further gesture of goodwill by the Ugandan government.

Uganda on Jan. 8 release 9 Rwandan nationals who were freed by a military court-martial after prosecution lost interest in several cases they were facing among which included illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

Kutesa said the 13 who were released on Tuesday also faced similar charges as those released last month. Some faced espionage charges while others were spouses of those arrested.

He said the withdrawal of charges does not in any way suggest that the accused are innocent of the charges with which they were being tried.

“It is simply an option that government of Uganda has chosen in order to facilitate normalization of relations in the context of the Luanda process,” he said.

Kutesa said Uganda expects Rwanda to reciprocate the goodwill gesture by addressing some concerns it has raised, including the Ugandans still incarcerated in Rwanda.

In August last year, Uganda and Rwanda signed the Luanda Memorandum of Understanding in a bid to normalize the relations between the two countries.

Early last year, Rwanda closed its common border with Uganda alleging that the latter was incarcerating its citizens. Uganda denied the allegations and accused Rwanda of infiltrating its security circles.

Since the Luanda, Angola summit, both sides have been holding meetings to normalize the relations.

Uganda President Yoweri Museveni and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame are scheduled to meet Feb. 21 in a bid to further ease the tension. Enditem

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