Authorities in Uganda have released 13 more Rwandan nationals ahead of a meeting between the presidents of the two countries on Friday at Gatuna.
The release on Tuesday brings the total number of Rwandans released from detention in Uganda to 22, after nine others were released in January.
Uganda and Rwanda are mending relations that soured early last year.
Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa told a press conference in Kampala that the release follows a series of engagements that are part of last year’s Luanda memorandum of understanding to ease tensions between the two countries. Mr Kutesa said the latest release was “a further gesture of goodwill.”
He said of the 13 released, three had been arrested for espionage and security-related offences in 2019, were released and sent back to Rwanda but returned illegally and were rearrested.
Three others were spouses of the arrested, five were suspected of involvement in criminal activity, while two were on trial in the general court martial for illegal possession of fire arms.
“It must be underscored that the withdrawal of the charges against these people, just as with the nine that were released on January 8, 2020, doesn’t in any way suggest that the accused are innocent of the charges for which they were being tried,” Mr Kutesa said.
He added that it was just an option that Uganda chose to facilitate normalisation of relations in the context of the Luanda process.
Kampala now expects that Kigali will reciprocate and release Ugandans incarcerated in Rwanda, and also ensure that Rwandans released do not return to Uganda and commit crime.
Last week, Kigali released a Ugandan IT expert who had been in custody for nearly three months.
By The Eastafrican