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DR Congo refuses to hand over ex-MP Kipoi

Nine months after the police announced the arrest of former Bubulo West MP Tony Nsubuga Kipoi, Ugandan security does not seem to know where he is.

What is known is that he is still in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); but the police’s Interpol directorate says their DRC counterparts have refused to hand him over.

“Up to now, they have never given him to us, and I actually don’t know what is going on,” Interpol Director Assan Kasingye told The Observer on Saturday. “I did whatever I did, provided everything that was required of me but they refused to hand him over.”

Kipoi was arrested in February this year from a Kinshasa hotel. The police, basing on information from the Ugandan embassy in DRC, said the former lawmaker would  be extradited within two weeks. On Saturday, Kasingye, IGP Kale Kayihura  and Internal Affairs Minister Aronda Nyakairima left for Monaco, France, for the Interpol general assembly,  which they hope to use to seek explanations from their DRC counterparts.

“During [the assembly] we shall get time and meet officials of the DRC police, I hope they will probably tell us why they can’t hand him over,” Kasingye said.

Diplomacy

Kipoi’s arrest, The Observer has learnt,  followed a diplomatic complaint by Uganda’s ambassador to DRC, James William Kinobe, to DRC security chiefs. This was after he was spotted at a Kinshasa hotel by President Museveni’s advance party to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) summit in February.

“The president’s advance team in company of a military officer attached to the embassy was looking for accommodation when they suddenly bumped into him seated in the hotel’s restaurant and on inquiry, the hotel staff told them that he was accommodated there by the [DRC] intelligence services,” a government source told The Observer.

Kipoi is wanted in Uganda over robbery and treason charges. He was charged and bailed in July last year, before he fled to DRC.

State-guest status

In November last year, he was arrested by the DRC authorities but was later accorded a guest-of-the-state status, accommodated and protected by the DRC government.

“You know he is a crafty man. I think when he got arrested, he told them that he has a rebel group and given the problems we have with them [DRC], they felt he would be of value to their interests,” Ambassador Kinobe said, when asked about Kipoi’s whereabouts.

With the police failing to get him, Kasingye said, the police now hope that government will help.

“The only alternative now is the diplomatic channel which is not under my ambit; our ambassador, the ministry of Foreign Affairs or the president can engage his counterpart so that he can be handed over,” Kasingye said.

Still alive

The government has, however, decided to ignore him, because arresting him would give an “unnecessary political clout.” Kinobe strongly denies rumours that the former MP could have been killed.

“We know where he stays but we have decided not to pursue him further because that may make the DRC government to believe the lies he told them that he poses a big threat to us,” Kinobe said.

On February 25, Kipoi lost his seat in Parliament after MPs adopted a report by the Rules, Privileges and Discipline committee that found him guilty of missing 15 consecutive sittings of the House without the leave of the speaker.

sadabkk@observer.ug

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