Rwanda Releases SFC Soldier During Lt Gen Muhoozi’s Visit

Uganda and Rwanda police officers facing eachother at Kamwezi border ,Rukiga district in 2020 (Photo Credit Samuel Amanya)
A Uganda People’s Defense Forces-UPDF soldier attached to the Special Forces Command (SFC) has been released, during the visit by the Commander of Land Forces Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba to Rwanda.

Ronald Arinda, 23, a resident of Muguri village, Kakyerere ward in Ryakarimira town council, Kabale district was arrested on November 27, 2021, from a cattle market in Burera district in Northern Province, a few meters away from the Uganda-Rwanda border.

Arinda who was on official leave from the army crossed into Rwanda when Rwandan security informers disguised as locals who live along borderline enticed him to buy their cattle.  Arinda’s arrest created anger among locals in the Ryakarimira town council. 

But on Saturday night, after a one-day visit to Kagame in Urugwiro village in Kigali city, Muhoozi said that Arinda has been released.  He confirmed in a tweet that he managed to return to Uganda with Arinda after requesting Kagame for his release.

“I further thank President @PaulKagame for honouring my request to release our SFC soldier, Private Ronald Arinda, who strayed into Rwandan territory on personal business without permission. I returned with him tonight to Uganda,” Muhoozi said in a tweet, and added that he held cordial and in-depth discussions about how to improve bilateral relations between two countries.

“I thank President @PaulKagame  for the very warm reception my delegation and I received in Kigali today. We held very cordial and in-depth discussions about how to improve our bilateral relations. I am confident that under the leadership of our two Presidents we shall be able to quickly restore our historical good relations”,  he said.

Rwanda closed its borders with Uganda in February 2019 and issued a travel advisory to its nationals against travelling to Uganda. In the advisory, Rwanda said that the safety of its nationals in Uganda was not guaranteed.

President Paul Kagame accused Ugandan authorities of abducting its citizens and locking them up in non-designated areas as well as hosting and facilitating dissidents especially from Rwanda National Congress-RNC and the Democratic Forces for the liberation of Rwanda, which have declared war on the Kigali government. 

Talks between Kagame and Museveni were hosted by Angolan President Joao Lourenco and Congolese leader Felix Tshisekedi, but the last such meeting took place in February 2020. No meeting has been held since, partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Relations between the countries also soured after an investigation last year found that Rwanda used Israeli Pegasus spying software to hack into the phones of Uganda's Prime Minister and the Foreign Affairs Minister, among others.

The impasse between the two countries suffocated businesses in the sub-counties located along the border while leading to an increase in smuggling. As a result, many people both Rwandan and Ugandan nationals have been shot to death and others injured by Rwandan authorities.