"Rwanda Demanded Removal of Uganda's Military Intelligence Chief Gen Kandiho among Conditions Before Relations Between the Two Countries Could be Restored" - Media Reports
Following the removal of Major General Abel Kandiho from his position as Uganda's head of Chietancy of Military Intelligence (CMI), The East African reports that,
Analysts say the development, coming hot on the heels of two emissaries meeting President Paul Kagame, means President Yoweri Museveni is ceding more ground on the conditions that Rwanda tabled before the two countries’ relations can be restored.
Rwanda had demanded that Gen Kandiho be removed from the CMI post.
The Rwanda leader first met President Museveni’s special envoy who is also Uganda’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Adonia Ayebare, on January 18. The envoy delivered a special message from the Ugandan leader to President Kagame.
Four days later, President Kagame received Uganda’s first son and UPDF Commander Land Forces, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, at Urugwiro in Kigali.
Details of these visits remain unknown but revolve around the thawing of relations between Rwanda and Uganda. The sour relations led to Rwanda closing the Katuna/Gatuna border in February 2019, which remains closed to date.
Kigali cited and demanded the removal of Maj Gen Kandiho. It claimed that under his watch, CMI operatives engaged in human rights abuses, including kidnap, torture and imprisonment of hundreds of Rwandans in Uganda. This is one of the issues that led to the countries’ falling out.
However, Ugandan daily The Monitor said it is unclear whether the change was directly requested by President Kagame during the meeting with Muhoozi in Kigali.
The paper wrote,
Maj Gen Kandiho’s transfer comes just days after President Museveni’s son, Lt Gen Muhoozi who is also Special Presidential Advisor on special operations visited Rwanda on Saturday to meet President Paul Kagame for a trip that marked warming relations between the neighbouring countries after years of tension.
The neighboring country has constantly accused and directly named Maj Gen Kandiho in alleged harassment and illegal detention of its citizens.
Another Ugandan news outlet, ChimpReports, was on similar opinion that "it is unclear whether the change was directly requested by President Kagame during last weekend’s meeting with Muhoozi in Kigali."
Rwanda has constantly accused and directly named Gen Kandiho in alleged harassment and illegal detentions of its citizens.
Rwanda's New Times noted that
Under Kandiho, CMI has for the past few years been accused of torturing and killing Rwandans before being dumped at borders without due process.
It was not clear whether the two events are connected but four days back, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, a Senior Presidential Adviser on Special Operations and Commander of Land Forces of the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF) was in Kigali, in an effort to repair ties between Rwanda and Uganda.
To observers, Muhoozi took a good step but Kigali waits to see more convincing practical steps taken by Kampala where outstanding issues that must be believably dealt with include the continued arrest and harassment of Rwandans in Uganda, and the activities of terrorist groups operating in Uganda intent on destabilizing Rwanda.
"Uganda Removes Intelligence Head At The Centre Of Rwanda, Uganda Row" reads a headline on Kigali's KTPress' top story.
The removal of Maj. Gen Kandiho follows the visit last week of Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, President Yoweri Museveni’s Senior Presidential Advisor in Charge of Special Operations and Commander of Land Forces, where he met President Kagame, to discuss relations between Rwanda and Uganda.
President Kagame and General Muhoozi agreed on practical steps needed to restore the relationship between Rwanda and Uganda.
Observers have linked the changes in Uganda’s Intelligence apparatus to efforts to address outstanding issues between the two countries.
Gen Kandiho, who has been replaced by Maj Gen James Birungi, has also been accused in various reports of human rights abuses and last year, he was targeted with economic sanctions by the United States Government.
Gen Birungi has been on a special assignment to monitor the guarantors of the South Sudan peace process, and previously has served as Chief of Air Force Staff of the Uganda Peoples Defense Air Force and also as commander of the Special Forces Command.
Who is General Kandiho?
Major General Abel Kandiho, who has worked at the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence for the bigger part of his military career as an officer and later heading it, also worked at the Ugandan High Commission in Kigali in the early 2000s.
Previously, before May 2014, he served as the Commander of Makindye Military Barracks – the headquarters of the UPDF Military Police.
On May 30, 2014, he was replaced in that position by Colonel Emmanuel Kanyesigye. Kandiho stayed on as Deputy Commander.
In December 2021, the United States placed sanctions on Kandiho over his alleged involvement in cases of human rights violations, which he denied.