In an apparent culmination of a long standing diplomatic furore between South Africa and Rwanda, the two countries have expelled each other’s diplomats. This came to a head on Friday when Kigali asked six South African diplomats to pack their bags and leave the Central African country in what was described by its foreign ministry as reciprocation for the dismissal of three of its own personnel. This was after Pretoria gave three Rwandan officials only seventy two hours to leave the country following the assassination attempt on a top ranking Rwandan refugee.
On Monday night, a group of men ransacked the home of former army general in the Rwandan army in what appears to be a third assassination attempt on former President Kagame’s top aide. What apparently led to the diplomatic meltdown is that three of those that are apparently linked to the assassination attempt are members of the Rwandan diplomatic community in South Africa. To lend credence to this view, members of the Rwandan National Congress, Kagame’s main opposition and of which Nyamwasa is a founding member, emphatically stated that those who have always attempted to get rid of the General are behind this attempt. Predictably, the Kagame’s administration has denied being responsible for this and any other attacks but have gone on to say that the victims are traitors who should expect no pity or forgiveness from them. They have further accused the South African government of habouring undesirable terrorists bent on destabilizing the Kagame’s administration.
This latest attempt has sparked outcry from the Rwandan refugee community in South Africa who are calling on the South African government to close it down and cut all diplomatic ties with their home country. This follows the death of former Rwandan intelligence chief, Patrick Karegeya who was found strangled in one of Johannesburg’s luxury hotels on New Year’s Day. David Batenga, a close relative of the slain former intelligence boss said of his home country’s embassy that it is not an embassy but an operation centre for planning the killing of innocent civilians.
In the wake of all this furore, the South African government has not issued a press statement but have promised that they will issue one in due course. However, a foreign affairs spokesperson has confirmed that the South African security services have been involved in tracking down the people involved in the attack.
An interesting dimension to this is that both these countries are actively involved in attempting to find a peaceful solution to the Great Lakes region, in particular, The Democratic Republic of Congo. They have been on each other’s toes as South Africa has accused Rwanda of aiding the Congolese rebels, a charge which the Kigali administration has vehemently denied.