Jo’burg, Kigali mend diplomatic fences

Rwanda and South Africa could be on the verge of burying the diplomatic hatchet.

The two countries cut ties in March last year as both nations expelled diplomats from either side after a fierce diplomatic row triggered by accusations that Rwandan security agents were committing crimes in South Africa.

South Africa expelled three Rwandan diplomats after an incident involving Rwandan exile Kayumba Nyamwasa and Kigali retaliated by sending home six South African diplomats. Both countries, however, maintained ambassadors from either country.

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Last week, South African Minister for International Relations and Co-operation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said relations between South Africa and Rwanda were “cordial” after she met her Rwandan counterpart Louise Mushikiwabo in Addis Ababa to discuss ways to restore ties.

Ms Mushikiwabo confirmed to The EastAfrican that the two countries have been working on ways of restoring diplomatic ties.

“The minister is right, and indeed we are in the process of reappointing diplomats. Improvement of relations is underway,” Ms Mushikiwabo said.

Ms Mashabane maintained the ties between the two countries have been cordial because despite expelling diplomats last year, both ambassadors remained at their posts in their respective embassies.

South Africa expelled the Rwandan diplomats and one Burundian diplomat after it linked them to a raid on Lt Gen Nyamwasa’s Johannesburg home.

Ms Mushikiwabo said the disagreements were centred on South Africa’s continued protection of “wanted fugitives” who had declared a war on a legitimate government from its territory.

Ms Mashabane said she had a “very nice dinner” with Ms Mushikiwabo and “re-committed to keeping our diplomatic relations cordial.”