JOHANNESBURG, Mar 26 – Pretoria and Kigali have agreed to resolve a furious diplomatic row sparked by attacks on Rwandan dissidents exiled in Johannesburg, South African President Jacob Zuma said Wednesday.
Speaking after meeting Tuesday in the Angolan capital Luanda with his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame, Zuma told public broadcaster SABC that the two leaders had “agreed to share some detailed information and deal with the issues”.
The presence of many Rwandan dissidents in South Africa has long been a bone of contention between the two countries, but relations turned frosty after Kigali’s exiled former intelligence chief Patrick Karegeya was found strangled to death in a luxury Johannesburg hotel on New Year’s Day.
The full-blown row was sparked by a botched assassination attempt on March 3 against former Rwandan army chief Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, an opponent of Kagame, also in Johannesburg.
It was the third attempt on Nyamwasa’s life since he was granted asylum in South Africa in 2010.
On suspicion that three Rwandan diplomats were behind the attempts, South Africa declared them “persona non grata”, saying they had “violated their diplomatic privileges”, and expelled them on March 7.
Rwanda immediately retaliated by expelling six South African diplomats from Kigali.
Kagame’s response to Pretoria’s allegations was both ambiguous and hawkish. “Anyone who betrays our cause or wishes our people ill will fall victim,” he said at the time.
“Rwanda believes that they are undertaking some action, and we as South Africa have an international obligation that when people come to us for refugee status we’ve got to give it them,” Zuma said Wednesday.
His meeting with Kagame, which took place on the sidelines of a regional summit on the African Great Lakes region, had not been previously reported.
The diplomatic row was also discussed at the Luanda summit itself and “there was agreement that the two countries must discuss the issue and find a mutually agreeable solution,” Zuma’s office said in a statement.
Zuma said there “was an agreement that South Africa and Rwanda should meet and that has been accepted”, the statement added.