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South Africa protests to Rwanda over 'insult'

BBC Africa/Maximilian Kasseh, Jr.
 South African International Relations minister, Lindiwe Sisulu.
South African International Relations minister, Lindiwe Sisulu.

South Africa has summoned the Rwandan envoy in Pretoria over apparently offensive remarks directed at South African International Relations minister, Lindiwe Sisulu.

Ms. Sisulu's spokesman told the BBC the remarks on social media were "unacceptable" and "must stop".

Ms. Sisulu recently met an exiled critic of the Rwandan leader, angering Kigali.

A senior Rwandan official, Olivier Nduhungirehe, had criticised the meeting on Twitter.

Ms. Sisulu's spokesman, Ndivhowo Mabaya, said that the South African High Commissioner in Kigali, George Twala, had also been recalled to Pretoria for consultations.

"It is our commitment to normalise the relations, but we can be more focused without being insulted on social media and the use of undiplomatic language," he said.

Mrs. Sisulu told a press conference last month that she had met Rwanda's former army chief, Gen Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, in Johannesburg.

She said she was "pleasantly surprised" to hear that Mr. Nyamwasa, who has established an opposition party in South Africa, was willing to negotiate a reconciliation deal with his former government.
Gun attack

Mr. Nyamwasa has been living in exile in South Africa since 2010, after falling out with Rwanda's President Paul Kagame.

Mr. Nduhungirehe, Rwanda's deputy foreign minister, criticised the meeting on his Twitter account, in remarks South Africa said were offensive.

He said that if any South African official wanted to negotiate with a "convicted criminal" who was leading a "subversive movement", they were free to do so but they should "never think" about involving Rwanda in the process.

In 2014, South Africa expelled three Rwandan diplomats in connection with an attack on Mr. Nyamwasa's home in Johannesburg.

Rwanda retaliated by ordering out six South African envoys.

Mr. Nyamwasa has survived at least two assassination attempts in exile.

Four men were found guilty in 2014 by a South African court over a gun attack that left him with stomach wounds.

Mr. Nyamwasa described the attack as politically motivated.

Relations between South Africa and Rwanda also became strained after Rwanda's former intelligence chief, Col Patrick Karegeya, was murdered in a hotel suite in Johannesburg.

Shortly after the murder, Mr. Kagame said: "You can't betray Rwanda and not get punished for it. Anyone, even those still alive, will reap the consequences. Anyone. It is a matter of time."


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