Rwanda received its nationals released by Uganda on Wednesday as the two east African neighbors work to end months of a cold peace.
Ugandan immigration officials handed over the nine men to their Rwandan counterparts at the Gatuna border post on Thursday morning. They were being accused of spying and political meddling in Kampala’s military court.
Marcelino Bwesigye, Uganda representative said: “These people were found living in Uganda without the necessary papers. And there were other charges by other organisations.
“But the government of Uganda decided to withdraw the charges against them in line with the memorandum of understanding signed between the two republics of Uganda and Rwanda.”
Rwanda’s foreign affairs ministry called the gesture a good start but urged the release of all its nationals still held in Uganda.
Vincent Biruta, Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs also told the press: “Today’s decision to release the nine people… because there are many still in prison. If they are all released, we will continue to talk, and of course we will be able to see it.
“We will do everything we can from our side, including telling Rwandans that there is no problem, that they are safe to go to Uganda, that they can go and do business.”
The prisoner release is the first major step at normalizing ties between the two erstwhile allies which took a negative turn when Kigali closed its border to Ugandan exports last February, denying Kampala millions of dollars in revenue.