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Rwandan dissents ‘must pay for their crimes’



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Rwanda is not interested in holding talks with exiled dissidents but maintains its borders remain open for whoever wants to return.

Foreign Affairs minister Richard Sezibera made the remarks Tuesday noting that Kigali has not had talks with the Pretoria government after reports that South African-based dissident Lt Gen Kayumba Nyamwasa was willing to negotiate his return.

“We haven’t had any talks yet. The heads of State met and agreed to normalise relations between the two countries. They asked their Foreign Affairs Ministers to meet and discuss the matter. We haven’t met yet,” Dr Sezibera told journalists at a press briefing in Kigali.

He said Rwanda and South Africa are seeking a rapprochement after relations broke down in March 2014.

“I don’t know anything regarding Kayumba Nyamwasa. Our task is to meet between our two countries and restore relations,” he said.

Dr Sezibera maintained that dissidents who fled the country were free to return and even attend the National Dialogue commonly known as ‘Umushyikirano’ slated for December.

“As for Kayumba Nyamwasa and others wanted by our justice system for the crimes they committed, that is a different matter which has nothing to do with the plans to restore ties between Rwanda and South Africa,” he insisted.

Relations between the two countries soured after the former head of Rwanda’s External Intelligence Col Patrick Karegeya was murdered in January 2014 and a second attempt made on the life of former army Chief of Staff, Lt Gen Nyamwasa, in March the same year. South Africa openly rebuked Rwanda and expelled three Rwandan diplomats. Rwanda retaliated by sending home six South African diplomats.

Rwanda accuses exiled opposition group Rwanda National Congress (RNC), which Lt Gen Nyamwasa is said to be a founder of, of a spate of grenade attacks between 2010 and 2013, claiming scores of people.

He was sentenced to 24 years in prison by the military court in 2011 after it found him guilty of forming a terrorist group, threatening state security, undermining public order, promoting ethnic divisions and insulting the president, a ruling which rights groups termed as politically motivated.

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