The government of Uganda has issued a protest note to the Rwandan government over the shootings by Rwandan security personnel that continue to occur along the Uganda-Rwanda border.
The protest note was delivered to Rwanda’s high commissioner to Uganda, Maj. Gen Frank Mugambage on Tuesday by ambassador Patrick Mugoya the permanent secretary of ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Uganda's protest comes after Rwanda handed over the bodies of two Ugandans; Job Byarushanga and Bosco Tuhirirwe who were shot dead in Rwanda last Sunday by Rwandan security personnel on allegations of smuggling tobacco into Rwanda.
Rwanda has since justified the double murder, saying they have their own operation methods and approach when it comes to criminality such as smuggling. But in a statement issued by the government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo, Uganda says it is seriously concerned and protests in the strongest terms Rwanda's reckless shootings of Ugandans.
Rwanda closed its borders with Uganda in February this year after accusing Uganda of harbouring and facilitating dissidents plotting against President Paul Kagame. Rwandans have since been blocked from crossing into Uganda and those who have attempted have been arrested or shot at.
"The alleged crime cannot justify the high handed and criminal act by the Rwandan security personnel, against unarmed civilians residing along the common border." Ofwono said.
"Furthermore, the ministry notes that these murders are inimical to the ongoing efforts to improve relations between the two countries. The ministry demands that a joint investigation in the murders be conducted and the perpetrators held accountable."
Uganda also cautioned Rwanda against shooting its own citizens who have attempted to cross into Uganda for food or other services. On November 4, 28-year-old Peter Havugimana became the latest shooting victim as he crossed back into Rwanda with a sack of potatoes from Uganda. Havugimana was reportedly shot in the shoulder from about 200 metres in Rwanda near the Ugandan border. He was forced to flee back to Uganda where a bullet was removed from his body.
"The government of Uganda considers the shooting incident a grave matter and that although the latest victim is Rwandan, it constitutes a pattern of reckless and high-handed acts on the part of Rwanda security personnel, against simple, ordinary people that live along the common border. The government of Uganda is ready to hand Peter Havugimana to the relevant Rwanda government authorities, if he wishes to return." the statement added.
There have been efforts to iron out the differences between the two countries after President Yoweri Museveni and Kagame met in Angola in August. Officials from both countries later met in Kigali but a subsequent meeting in Kampala never materialised for unknown reasons.