NEW TIMES 10 MAR 2020
An exclusive interview this newspaper has had with Seleman Kabayija – the deputy commander of the RUD-Urunana perpetrators of the terror attack in Kinigi District of October last year – has further exposed Philemon Mateke’s involvement in acts to cause instability in Rwanda. Mateke, Uganda’s state minister for regional cooperation always denies any involvement.
It has been reported in the news that Kabayija was one of only four of the attackers that in the morning of Friday 4 October 2019 managed to escape after they came under the retaliatory fire of Rwandan security forces. The New Times finally has secured an exclusive interview with this man, who now is facing the law to account for his part in the crime.
“Our attack was done with the planning and assistance of Minister Philemon Mateke”, said Kabayija, a lively looking fellow of 37.
We interviewed him just before an article in Chimpreports, a Kampala-based website, quoted Mateke saying that there were reports that Rwanda wants (sic) to capture some parts of southwestern Uganda, including Kabale and Kisoro. That was in an article published last Saturday, 7th.
This statement, dismissed by some as “a new low of misinformation coming from Uganda”, follows a number of similar claims in the same Chimpreports website. These are claims that, according to analysts, can be seen as trending in one direction: President Museveni is trying to find any excuse to derail the Angola MoU.
A few hours after the last round of quadripartite meetings aimed at resolving the Uganda, Rwanda impasse Museveni was addressing residents of Kabale in a speech with a number of claims contrary to what the meeting at Gatuna/Katuna – also attended by the DRC and Angola heads of state – had discussed, as the official communiqué indicated.
Rwanda and Uganda signed an extradition treaty that constitutes a legal framework by which to handle individuals involved in subversive acts practiced by the nationals of one state against those of the other; or by the nationals of one’s country residing in the territory of the other. Everything was laid out in the official communication afterwards.
So far individuals identified by Kigali include: Ugandan Military Intelligence (CMI) chief Brig. Abel Kandiho; Minister Philemon Mateke; Internal Security Organization chief Kaka Bagyenda and RNC agents Prossy Bonabaana and Sulah Nuwamanya among others. No Rwandan official, whether civilian or military has engaged in offences against Uganda, the facts show.
In his Kabale speech, Museveni was claiming that he is not aware of the presence of anti-Rwanda forces in Uganda. Referring to RNC for instance, Chimpreports said the Ugandan president had “flatly rejected Rwanda’s claims that some members of this outfit reside or operate in Uganda.
“Those who fled Rwanda and entered Uganda were arrested and handed back to Rwanda,” said Museveni.
But when RNC leader Kayumba Nyamwasa fled Rwanda in 2010, it was senior Ugandan officials that received him on the other side and, reports indicate, it was Kampala that facilitated his travel to South Africa. The same happened with former Rwanda spy chief Patrick Karegeya.
Observers will be further baffled by the Ugandan leader’s denials of RNC presence in Uganda when Museveni himself has confessed to meeting its officials like Charlotte Mukankusi and Eugene Gasana in State House. Or when RNC’s chief financier, Tribert Rujugiro runs a tobacco factory in Uganda. Or when there is an “RNC Uganda Province”, chaired by Pastor Deo Nyirigira of Mbarara.
Museveni further claimed that: “the diplomatic row that led to Rwanda closing its border in February last year emanated from internal conflicts in Rwanda, especially within the Rwandese Patriotic Front when some members of RPF disagreed with the Rwanda government and took refuge in South Africa.”
It has however long emerged that the Ugandan president, due to his ambitions of “regime change in Kigali”, plotted insurrection through Nyamwasa. The disgraced former head of the Rwandan military, investigations by Rwandan authorities found out was secretly in cahoots with the Ugandan leadership, since the Nineties. Karegeya too was in the same plots.
In other words, the facts show, RNC, FDLR, RUD-Urunana and other groups that Kampala has been using as proxies to destabilize Rwanda, all were part of a plot hatched in Kampala.
A couple of days after the Ugandan ruler addressed the residents of Kabale, he convened a meeting at Entebbe State House to which he invited Mateke, Kandiho, Bagyenda, as a well as a few other senior officials of his military, in addition to RNC agents Bonabaana and Nuwamanya.
Museveni, it turned out, had gathered these people; the very individuals Rwanda has named during MoU talks as most detrimental to her peace, for them to once again articulate slanders against the Rwandan leadership. But, according to analysts, it also was with an eye at attempting to sanitize them in the public eye.
The words of Selemani Kabayija, who was the deputy commander of the Kinigi attack and had been part of the planning that involved Mateke, are further evidence of the complicity of Kampala officials in acts to destabilize Rwanda’s peace. The terror suspect, one of the two handed by Uganda to Rwanda, said: “When we attacked Kinigi we killed people.” He then disclosed that at the time, Mateke was aware what was going on.
“During the attack Gavana (Nshimiye, the commander of the RUD-Urunana attack) was on the phone with him. They kept updating each other as we entered Rwanda.” According to publicly available information, Gavana is one of the four that escaped back to Kisoro (as well as Kabayija himself), one Nzabonimpa Fidel and Mugwaneza Eric.
So far Ugandan authorities have declined to hand over Gavana, and Mugwaneza who were the leaders of the attack.
Reports also indicate that Mateke still is facilitating their movements, especially Gavana whom he hosts in his Kisoro hotel. Though Kampala has handed over Kabayija and Nzabonimpa, for which Rwanda thanks them, Kigali authorities have remarked, “a lot more still needs to be done”.
Kabayija who looked close to tears during our interview revealed how it was Mateke’s Kisoro-based network that recruited him into RUD-Urunana. He said he was in Uganda in Mityana District where he did petty trade when one day a man that identified himself only as Kyakabale called him on his phone to tell him there was money to be made in Congo, through sale of minerals.
“Kyakabale said that if I could join him in Kisoro he would take me across the border into DRC,” Kabayija said. He says that his talk with this Kyakabale took place in December 2017. “When I agreed to join him in Kisoro; and when I reached there the following day I discovered that in fact Kyakabale was a soldier of RUD-Urunana.
“It looked obvious that they were operating freely in Kisoro, the area of Minister Mateke,” he adds. He said Kyakabale told him that “he had misled me with talk of money”, but that the real reason he wanted him was to join ‘in the fight to remove the Kigali regime.’” Kabayija says he agreed to join the rebels there and then.
This information tallies with reports that Ugandan authorities, mainly intelligence organs have been recruiting – using different methods such as deception, direct persuasion, or torture – Rwandans nationals, whether those that cross from Rwanda or those already resident in Uganda, to join anti-Kigali rebels. A report released on 30 December 2018 by the UN Group of Experts on DRC described in detail such recruitment activities on behalf of the so-called “P5”; of which RNC, FDLR, RUD-Urunana are part and parcel.
Kigali’s team of officials on the ad-Hoc Committee to implement the Luanda MoU, led by State Minister for Regional Cooperation and EAC Affairs Olivier Nduhungirehe, has shown how Mateke is a coordinator of anti-Rwanda rebel groups. They’ve specifically named an incident in December 2018 when Mateke convened a meeting of RNC and FDLR officials in Kampala Serena Hotel, “to foster closer working relations between the two.”
Kabayija narrates that once he reached Kisoro, there was a network of guides to take him across the border into DRC – to the forests of Mpimbi, which is just about a kilometer from the town. “That is where RUD-Urunana headquarters were,” he says.
Though they launched the attack on Kinigi from Congolese territory, it was under the direction, and support of Uganda, Kabayija emphasized. During the attack he and the others killed fourteen civilians. But nineteen of the terrorists were in turn killed by Rwandan forces who also captured five alive. Of the four that survived and managed to escape, a detachment of UPDF, the Ugandan military received them in Kisoro District, just across the border.
These are things that corroborate information that Rwandan officials have been telling the public. The handset that Gavana used in contact with Mateke was one of the material evidences that were recovered from the scene of the attack. It pinned the Ugandan minister.
However Chimpreports, a media website that was given direct access to the state house meeting, has kept giving Mateke a ready platform to aggressively spread anti Rwanda misinformation, including those allegations that “Rwanda wants to capture Kabale and Kisoro”.