The New Times (Kigali)

8 August 2012

Rwanda: South Africa Cautions Kayumba Against Political Activities

The South African government has warned exiled Rwandan dissident, Kayumba Nyamwasa, to stop all "political activities" against the Rwandan government.

A statement from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) of South Africa, received by The New Times, said Kayumba's conduct breached the code of conduct of refugees.

DIRCO Director General, Ambassador, J M Matjila, described Kayumba's comments as "irresponsible and libellous."

The warning follows Kayumba's recent remarks in an interview with a South African newspaper City Press, claiming that nobody had barred him from politics which seemed to imply that the South African government had given him the green light to conduct political activities.

"South Africa and Rwanda maintain friendly diplomatic relations and such statements are devoid of all truth," said J M Matjila.

It is the first time South Africa has come out strongly against the former Rwandan General which demonstrates strong bilateral relations between the two countries.

"Nyamwasa is a refugee in South Africa and in terms of the law governing refugees, South African Refugee Act number 130 of 1998, he is required to refrain from engaging in any political activity or subversive action against any government as this would constitute a breach of the law and he could be liable to lose his refugee status," the statement added.

"It has come to the attention of the South African government that certain Rwandan citizens claim to have engaged in political activities against the Government of the Republic of Rwanda 'with the approval of the South African Government'. South Africa and Rwanda maintain friendly diplomatic relations and such statements are devoid of all truth," the statement added.

The South African Government, the statement noted, views the comments attributed to Kayumba Nyamwasa in an article in City Press of 29 July 2012 in a serious light.

"These irresponsible and libellous comments against a country with which South Africa maintains diplomatic relations, as well as suggestions of plotting regime change, are strongly condemned by the South African Government".

The Rwandan High Commissioner to South Africa, Vincent Karega, told this paper yesterday the warning was a welcome move.

"It's a good move from the South African government. They (fugitives) have been lying to Rwandans living here that the government here is supporting their agenda against Rwanda".

"This is a good indication of strong relationship we have with South Africa," he added.

Kayumba and Patrick Karegeya have been granted asylum in South Africa, which means they are supposed to lead quiet lives. However, they have been organising political meetings against the Rwandan government.

Kayumba and Patrick Karegeya, a former Colonel in the Rwandan army, are both wanted in KIgali to serve their respective sentences which were delivered in absentia.

Early last year, the Military High Court sentented Kayumba and Karegeya to 24 and 20 years in jail, respectively, after finding them guilty of, among others, forming a terrorist group, promoting ethnic divisionism, threatening national security, undermining public order and desertion from the army (in the case of Kayumba).

Rwandan prosecution office later issued their arrest warrants.

They were convicted along two others; Gerald Gahima (20 years) and Theoneste Rudasingwa (24 years), who stay in the US.

Kayumba is the subject of a pending law suit launched by two South African human rights groups which are demanding that his refugee status be stripped.

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