Uganda has deported a French and a Rwandan executive from telecoms group MTN, accusing them of planning to compromise national security, police said in a statement released on Tuesday.
MTN Uganda, part of the South African telecoms firm, said its Chief Marketing Officer, Olivier Prentout, was detained at Entebbe airport on Saturday after returning from a business trip and then sent back to France.
MTN Uganda also said its Head of Sales and Distribution, Annie Bilenge Tabura, was arrested by security personnel as she arrived at its headquarters in Kampala on Monday morning, then deported to Rwanda.
It did not comment directly on the police accusation, but said the company and all its employees were committed to respecting and operating within Ugandan laws. There was no immediate statement from either executive.
Uganda Police in a Statement signed by Polly Namaye the Deputy Police Spokesperson said “ We want to commend the Directorate of Immigration and Citizenship Control for strengthening the screening procedures at all border points.
“We strongly believe that the deportation of the two foreigners, who were using their employment as tools to achieve their ill motives, has enabled to disrupt their intended plans of compromising our National Security.
“We urge all members of the public to remain alert and continue helping the Police and its sister security agencies by reporting any suspicious activity.”
Last year, MTN Uganda complained that government security personnel had raided its data center and disconnected four of its servers.
The telecom firm has more than 10 million subscribers and competes chiefly with India’s Bharti Airtel.
MTN’s 20-year license expired in October. The firm applied for a 10-year extension and the Uganda Communications Commission gave it an interim renewal lasting 60-days pending resolution of a number of unspecified issues before a final license is issued.
Ugandan authorities have said MTN has agreed to list its shares on Uganda’s local bourse as a condition of renewing its license, though the firm itself is yet to confirm this.
Meanwhile, Uganda Government last evening confirmed the arrest and deportation of Ms Elsa Mussolini, the MTN mobile money general manager, after police authorities grilled her for at least four hours in connection with alleged incitement to violence.
Mussolini and her colleague, Anthony Katamba, the general manager corporate services and chief legal counsel at MTN, were summoned to Kireka at 2pm and were separately grilled by detectives at Special Investigations Division (SID) under the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.
After government deported two MTN employees to Rwanda and France, on allegations of compromising national security, the CID deputy director in charge of special investigations, Elly Womanya, wrote to MTN managers inviting then to SID “without fail” to assist security in the on-going investigations into alleged incitement of violence.