The Rwandan government moved quickly today to distance itself from the death of exiled former Rwandan intelligence chief Patrick Karegeya.
Karegeya was found dead in a Johannesburg hotel room, South African police said. He was stripped of the rank of colonel after falling out with his former ally, Rwandan President Paul Kagame in 2006.
Kagame had accused him of involvement in terrorist attacks in the Rwandan capital, Kigali. Interviewed today, Rwandan ambassador to Uganda Frank Mugambage said the opposition's claim that Karegeya was killed by the Rwandan government was false and baseless.
"The government of Rwanda has nothing to do with his death," he said.
Karegeya, formerly head of Rwanda's foreign intelligence service, had lived in South Africa for the past six years. There is no confirmation of reports by his party that he had been murdered.
A fellow exiled dissident, the former Rwandan army chief Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, has survived two assassination attempts since fleeing to South Africa in 2010. The two men were among four exiled former top officials for whom Rwanda issued international arrest warrants in 2011.
A military court sentenced them to long jail terms in absentia in 2011 for threatening state security and promoting ethnic divisions. In 2010, Gen Nyamwasa and Karegeya formed a new opposition party - the Rwanda National Congress.
In a statement released today, the opposition, Rwanda National Congress (RNC) said: "The Rwandan opposition is deeply saddened to announce the assassination of Colonel Patrick Karegeya in Johannesburg."
"His body was found in a hotel where he went for a meeting."
"It is true," Frank Ntwali, the party's chairperson for Africa, told AFP early Thursday.
"He was strangled by agents of [Rwandan President Paul] Kagame," Ntwali said.
Karegeya was killed at the Michelangelo Towers, an up-market hotel in the Johannesburg suburb of Sandton. It was not immediately clear if he was killed on Tuesday night or on Wednesday.
Karegeya, in his early fifties, was for a long time very close to Kagame. He served as head of external intelligence for around a decade before being demoted to army spokesperson and was later arrested and jailed. He was stripped of his rank of colonel in 2006 and fled into exile the following year.