Uganda has pardoned 180 Rwandans who have been detained in different prisons across the country, The Kampala Post has exclusively established.
The release of the Rwandan prisoners is part of wider measures aimed at normalizing the strained relations between Uganda and Rwanda.
Highly placed security sources told this website that authorities in Uganda have been working behind the scenes to ensure the brotherly relations between Uganda and Rwanda get back to normal.
"A number of government officials on both sides of our countries have been working to ensure that our relations return to normal," the source that asked not to be named said.
This website has also learnt that, on the Ugandan side, the Senior Presidential Advisor for Special Operations Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba is one of those spearheading the efforts to ensure normalcy between the brotherly nations returns.
The 180 Rwandan prisoners are part of the 833 prisoners across the country that were recently pardoned by President Yoweri Museveni.The move, according to government officials is also aimed at decongesting prison facilities in the wake of the deadly Coronavirus.
The prisoners were part of the bigger list of more than 1,000 names submitted by the prisons authorities to the President.
In the recent past, there have been visible acts on both the Ugandan and Rwandan sides including the exchange of comradely pleasantries.
In one of the public messages via twitter, Gen Kainerugaba sent a message to President Paul Kagame and the people of Rwanda on the occasion of the country's remembrance of the 1994 genocide (Kwibuka) last month, noting that Uganda and Rwanda have come a long way as sister countries.
In the wake of hostilities between the two neighboring countries, observers had predicted an all-out war especially after Rwanda closed its borders to Ugandans. Several Ugandans were shot inside Rwanda while some Rwandans also lost their lives as they attempted to cross into Uganda to look for food or check on their relatives.
The situation was exacerbated when Rwanda deployed troops along the common border with Uganda. On the Ugandan side, President Yoweri Museveni, on several occasions assured the citizens that nobody would disturb Uganda's peace.
Relatedly, Gen Kainerugaba had previously sent out messages warning of a bad day for whoever dared to attack Uganda.
However, in a soothing tweet, hinting at the efforts at normalising relations, Gen Kainerugaba acknowledged the long-standing hostilities but noted that quarrels should not always result in fights.
“Brothers/Comrades and Revolutionaries can quarrel but they should never fight. We have come from very far. I wish His Excellency General Kagame and the people of Rwanda a solemn and respectful kwibuka,” Gen Kainerugaba tweeted.
Gen Kainerugaba decorated the tweet with pictures of President Museveni and his Rwandan counterpart at previous events.
Kagame sacks abusive minister
Meanwhile, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame dismissed from Cabinet, Ambassador Olivier Nduhungirehe, the country’s Foreign Affairs Minister who on several occasions used undiplomatic language while addressing Ugandans and their leaders. This was through the Rwandan media and on his official twitter handle.
Nduhungirehe had been leading the Rwanda team in talks with Uganda following a standoff that climaxed with the unilateral closure of the Rwanda border with Uganda at Katuna in February 2019. The ex-minister had been criticized for insulting Ugandan leaders amid the sour relations.
According to a statement issued by Rwanda's Prime Minister, Nduhungirehe was removed from office for ignoring government policies and running his ministry as a private business.
"The President of the Republic of Rwanda has removed from office Amb. Olivier Nduhungirehe for consistently acting based on personal opinions over government policies, while serving as Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign affairs and International cooperation in charge of East African Community,” the statement noted.
Amb. Nduhungirehe's sacking came just hours after Gen Kainerugaba had sent his 'Kwibuka' message to President Paul Kagame and the people of Rwanda.
Meanwhile, Uganda had earlier released a total of 22 Rwandans in two batches.
The release followed a series of engagements that are part of last year’s Luanda memorandum of understanding to ease tensions between the two countries.