Belgium has rejected the accreditation of the contentious Rwandan ambassador, Vincent Karega, who has been implicated in the murder of political dissidents in South Africa. Karega will not assume the role of the new Rwandan ambassador in Brussels, a significant diplomatic post for Rwanda due to Belgium’s European institutions and historical ties with Rwanda. It’s reported that Belgium was not notified in advance about his appointment.
In 2013, Karega, a disputed figure, served as the ambassador in South Africa when Patrick Karegeya, the former Rwandan intelligence chief and dissident, was strangled to death in a hotel room on New Year’s Eve. South African authorities demonstrated that Rwandan diplomats were involved in the murder. In March, South Africa repatriated several diplomats from Karega’s team following further attempts to eliminate dissidents, declaring to Rwanda that South Africa could not serve as a base for illicit activities.
Last year, Karega stirred controversy again as the ambassador in the Congolese capital, Kinshasa. President Tshisekedi decided to expel him when M23 rebels, backed by Rwanda, took control of larger parts of Eastern Congo. His expulsion was triggered by a tweet he had sent describing the commemoration of a 1998 massacre in East Congo perpetrated by Rwandan troops as a ‘simplistic narrative’.
The Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has declined to comment on the refusal of accreditation. The Rwandan government expressed regret over Belgium’s decision, accusing it of yielding to pressure from the Congolese government and the propaganda of negationist organisations and activists. Yolande Makolo, a spokesperson, referred to a segment of the Rwandan diaspora in Belgium that protested against Karega’s nomination.
The New Times, controlled by the Rwandan government, has suggested that Belgium’s refusal could impact future relations between Brussels and Kigali. The newspaper accuses Belgium of siding with Congo, arguing that in the context of ongoing tensions between Kinshasa and Kigali, Belgium sought to strengthen its ties with the Democratic Republic of Congo.