Sex soils diplomatic relations

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Charles Murigande, told Daily Monitor from Kigali that the manner in which the diplomat was arrested and “disgraced” epitomised Uganda’s hostile disposition towards its neighbour. “How could we let him (Ngarambe) continue to work in a hostile environment where he was humiliated? His capacity as a diplomat in Uganda was mortally wounded,” said Murigande. Rwanda, in its protest letter sent to Uganda, described the arrest as “totally unacceptable”. However, Uganda’s Minister of State for International Cooperation, Okello Oryem, in his first official response to the arrest, told parliament recently that Kampala never meant to humiliate the Republic of Rwanda. “I wish to point out that at no time during the evolution of this incident, was any action consciously designed and undertaken by Uganda to humiliate the above diplomat and cause embarrassment to the government of Rwanda,” Oryem said. “In fact it is our view that the matter is a largely private affair, which is being blown out of proportion by the press.” His explanation, however, did little to cool the flaring tempers of the MPs ‘ who blamed security agencies for handling the situation poorly, risking sparking a war. MPs hastily asked Oryem to withdraw his statement, which he reluctantly did. From Kigali, Minister Murigande told Daily Monitor that Ngarambe was back in Rwanda. “He was called here (Kigali) for consultation but he was not called to put an end to his duties in Kampala. He might come back so that we let the people, who violated his diplomatic immunity live with that violation.” Rwanda’s Ambassador to Uganda Kamali Karegesa said Okello Oryem offered no apologises for the incident. “I told them that they knew that Ngarambe was a diplomat. One hour after arresting him, General (David) Tinyefuza called me to break the news, and they went ahead and held him for three more hours,” Kamali said after meeting Oryem at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He said the Ugandan officials “were not apologetic even when they know they violated Article 29 of the Vienna Convention which protects diplomats from acts like this one”. “The minister told me that they would reply to our protest note but continued to insist that Ngarambe committed the crime as an individual not a diplomat,” Kamali said. He said relations between the two countries remain warm despite what many might see as another diplomatic fallout. Daily Monitor reported that Uganda’s intelligence agencies had linked Ngarambe to acts of espionage through collusion with contacts in Uganda’s top spy agencies. Responding to the claims, Murigande said the link “explains the ruthless behaviour expressed on him (Ngarambe)” and suggests that the arrest was done to him as a result of the security’s “perception” of Ngarambe as a spy. “But it was a total violation of the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations especially Article 20 which gives diplomats immunity from such treatment,” Murigande said. Dr Murigande said the government of Rwanda had been left to draw conclusions that “what happened to Ngarambe was planned and implemented” by Uganda. The foreign minister also said he had briefed Rwandan President Paul Kagame on the Ngarambe case and “you can trust that his feelings are the feelings of the government of Rwanda. When the government protests, we protest collectively,” Murigande said. Murigande, who equated the current standoff between the two countries to turbulence during a plane flight, also said he was optimistic that relations would improve. “The interests between our two countries are paramount and I believe the leaders of our two countries will strive to promote these interests.” Before he was forced to withdraw his statement in parliament, Oryem told MPs that police stormed the room in Windsor Lake Victoria Hotel and “found Mrs Rugunda in bed with an unidentified man and thereafter took him to Entebbe Police Station.” He said Ngarambe identified himself at the police station as a diplomat and was immediately freed. He said Uganda has assured Rwanda that it would continue to respect and “follow the existing mechanisms put in place to moderate the bilateral relations between the two sister countries.” However, that was not enough to calm the MPs. Sheema South MP Ephraim Kamuntu said, “There are diplomatic channels of handling such incidents. There was no need to make a farce out of the incident in the press.” “The relationship between these two countries is of a fundamental nature,” Kamuntu said. Rakai Woman MP Sarah Kiyingi said the matter should be diplomatically resolved and therefore it was superfluous for the minister to bring an inflammatory statement. Said Kiyingi, “Enough damage has already been done.” Police failed to get sufficient information on its file to take Joyce Ngaiza Rugunda to court on charges of adultery. They extended the bond they granted her . Mini profiles of the trio involved in the diplomatic saga Joyce Ngaiza Rugunda A Dar es Salaam University-trained lawyer, Joyce Ngaiza, is a lecturer at Makerere University’s Law School. She has a postgraduate diploma in law from the LDC and a Masters degree from the University of Warwick where she enrolled in 2004. For her early education, Ngaiza, whose middle name is Kokuteta, went to school in Tanzania. She attended primary school in Oysterbay, the most upmarket suburb of Dar es Salaam, comparable to Upper Kololo. She then went to Kigungiro Girls’ Secondary School and Korogwe Secondary School. While in the UK, she lived in Gibbet Hill Road in Coventry City. Elegant and vivacious, Ngaiza, who has strong Rwandan roots, is said to have taken strong interest in the political events that led to last month’s presidential election. She keenly followed Besigye’s rape case at the High Court and was often seen in the company of other diplomats accredited to Kampala Ngaiza also works at Royal Dutch Embassy as a political assistant to the Netherlands ambassador, hence she is not a stranger to the diplomatic society. Her official position of Governance Officer, coupled with her placement in the academia, means that she usually delivered papers on issues relating to democracy and governance in Uganda. Her marriage to Rugunda is facing a severe test since Saturday’s embarrassing hotel raid in which she was caught by her husband and security personnel with John Ngarambe, a top Rwandan diplomat accredited to Kampala. Edmond Rugunda An engineer in private practice and described as a pious Catholic, Edmond Rugunda, the husband of Joyce Ngaiza, was born and raised in Mbarara. A source, who went to school with Rugunda placed his age at between 37 and 38. His father, Mr Francis Rugunda, was a successful Mukiga businessman, who had interests in construction and agriculture. For his early education, he (and his siblings) attended the prestigious Kabale Preparatory School and Namasagali College. In 1989, he was one of the young Ugandans, who went to Dar es Salaam University on an exchange programme with Makerere. His contemporaries say because of his strong Catholic roots and practice, Rugunda never had a girlfriend until he met the irresistible Joyce in Dar. The romance between the two, who are from well-off families grew and eventually blossomed into marriage. Edmond’s elder brother, Norbert Rugunda, is a councillor in Mbarara Municipality. Sources said he has strong links to Uganda’s intelligence community. When Rugunda repatriated his bride to Uganda she stayed at home for sometime. Eventually, she got a job at Makerere University. He has one child with Ngaiza. John Ngarambe John Ngarambe, Kigali’s First Secretary to Kampala, was raised in Uganda and went to school here. Over the years, he has built friendship with Ugandans in the intelligence and cultivated a massive contact base. Sources said he had nurtured sustainable contacts in the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence and other paramilitary organisations. It is said that Ngarambe, an effective intelligence gatherer, collected information on the secret workings of Uganda’s security agencies. Sources said Ngarambe was the head of Rwanda’s external intelligence in Uganda. Before he was accredited to Uganda last year, he worked as First Secretary at the Rwandan Embassy in London. He replaced Gerald Mbanda, who had been expelled by Uganda in August 2005 after a diplomatic impasse with Rwanda, which also saw the expulsion of an equivalent Ugandan diplomat accredited to Kigali. He is known to be a gifted chess player. He is a good socialiser and Kampala’s social scene will miss him.

April 2006
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