South Africa - Rwanda

South Africa recalls ambassador to Rwanda

Photo: Wikimedia

South Africa’s top diplomat Ayanda Nstaluba said the presence of Rwandan political fugitives in his country is complicating bilateral relations on Thursday.

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In the latest sign of worsening ties between the two countries South African High Commissioner to Rwanda Gladstone Dumisani Gwadiso was summoned back to Pretoria amid growing concerns about Kigali's repressive policies as the country prepares for presidential elections.

Recalling an ambassador is normally regarded as an illustration of the strongest form of official displeasure with another country and a precursor to the severing of diplomatic ties.

But Director General at the department of International Relations and Cooperation Ayanda Ntsaluba said this is not the case with Dumisani Gwadiso, who is being brought home for consultations.

Ntsaluba said South Africa is avoiding practicing public diplomacy with Rwanda and admits the “temperature has been raised” by Rwandan dissidents seeking refuge in South Africa.

Rwanda is facing international pressure following the beheading of an opposition leader and the attempted assassination in June of former Rwandan army chief General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa in Johannesburg who is now seeking political asylum in South Africa.

Nevertheless Ntsaluba is at pains to avoid pointing the finger at the Kigali government over the attempted assassination:

"We are not making any connection by recalling our ambassador between the government of Rwanda and the specific incident involving general Nyamwasa.”

Five men have been charged over the murder, but South African prosecutors have not revealed their nationalities, saying only that they were investigating if the men were in the country legally.

Ntsaluba said the investigation into Nyamwasa’s shooting is ongoing.

The permanent secretary at the Rwandan Foreign ministry Eugene Munyakanza told RFI that there was no reason to be alarmed. 

"There's no stand-off between Rwanda and South Africa and no tension between the two countries. It's normal for a country to call back its envoy for consultation."

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