South Africa has expelled a diplomat from Burundi’s embassy in connection with a raid on an exiled Rwandan general’s Johannesburg home and Burundi is considering a response, a Burundian official said on Monday.
The raid on the home of former Rwandan army chief General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, who was not there at the time, has sparked a diplomatic row between South Africa and Rwanda, prompting tit-for-tat expulsions.
South Africa expelled three Rwandan diplomats last week and Rwanda, which borders Burundi, retaliated by ordering out six South African diplomats.
The row has strained ties between two African states involved in efforts to bring peace to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where South Africa has troops in a U.N. brigade that fought last year against rebels whom U.N. experts said were backed by Rwanda. Kigali denied such backing.
“The Burundi diplomat is accused of collaborating with suspects,” Gervais Abayeho, senior media adviser at Burundi’s presidency, told Reuters when asked about the expulsion, referring to suspects in the raid on Nyamwasa’s home.
“Burundi is reviewing information about South Africa’s decision before it can react,” he said.
A South African diplomatic source confirmed the expulsion, without giving details.
A diplomatic source, who asked not to be named, told Reuters last week that South African security services had tracked those involved in the raid and had said they were intelligence personnel attached to the Rwandan embassy.
No further details were available on the raid.
Nyamwasa survived an assassination attempt in Johannesburg in 2010.
South African police have also been investigating the New Year’s Eve murder in a Johannesburg hotel of another exiled opponent of Rwandan President Paul Kagame, former Rwandan spy chief Patrick Karegeya.
Exiled Rwandan opposition members have accused Kagame and his government of being responsible for Karegeya’s death and for attacks on Nyamwasa and other critics abroad. They deny Kigali’s charges that they are behind “terrorist” attacks in Rwanda.
Kagame and senior Rwandan officials have denied any involvement in the attacks on exiled opponents, but have called them traitors who should not expect forgiveness or pity.