Kidnapped tourist: PM Rugunda calls for more vigilance

Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda’s speech to Parliament about the kidnapped American tourist and her tour guide was one that showed a resigned government after three days of fruitless search for the hostages.

Taking questions from legislators during the Prime Minister’s question time, Rugunda was asked by the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament (LOP) Betty Aol Ocan on the security in the national parks following the kidnap of an American tourist, Kimberly Sue Endicott and a guide, a Congolese national Jean-Paul Mirenge Remezo.

The two were allegedly abducted while on an evening game drive in Queen Elizabeth National Park by gunmen who are demanding for $500,000 (more than Shs 1.8 billion) ransom.

“It was unfortunate that some of our tourists have had a problem. We should work together to secure them and get the criminals who violated their security and that of the country. In every country we have such incidents. Let us be vigilant to minimise them,” Rugunda told the MPs.

The police said that they had widened the search area beyond the Queen Elizabeth National Park and into the southwest districts of Kanungu and Rukungiri with a belief that the kidnappers are no longer inside the park.

On Wednesday, a joint force of security agencies sealed off all exit points along Uganda’s border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with a hope that the kidnappers have not crossed into the DRC.

Kinkiizi West MP James Kaberuka said, the kidnaps have been happening for some time but the government has previously ignored his complaints.

“I have raised this issue before on the floor of Parliament but because the victims have always been local businessmen, it didn’t attract a lot of attention,” Kaberuka said.