Nigerian president to visit South Africa following xenophobic attacks

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. / Internet photo

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari will pay a state visit to South Africa next month following a wave of xenophobic attacks in both countries, the South African presidency announced Saturday.

Buhari will meet with his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa "to reinforce the strong bonds between the two countries and to jointly develop responses to challenges affecting people and businesses in South Africa and Nigeria," the presidency said. South Africa has witnessed days of riots that mainly targeted foreign-owned shops, including Nigerian businesses.

At least 10 people have been killed, two of them foreign nationals, in violence that began in its administrative capital Pretoria and spread to nearby Johannesburg, Ramaphosa said Thursday.

Meanwhile, South Africa's telecommunication giant, the MTN Group, and supermarket chain Shoprite have closed all stores and service centers in Nigeria after their premises were attacked. In the wake of public violence in both countries, Ramaphosa held discussions on Friday with Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, special envoy of Buhari.

Abubakar conveyed Buhari's concern over recent events in South Africa and expressed commitment to the values of prosperity and the advancement of Africa that are shared by South Africa and Nigeria, said the presidency. "Nigeria stands ready to assist South Africa in establishing the root causes of xenophobic attacks and developing sustainable solutions to the challenges concerned," the presidency quoted Abubakar as saying.

Buhari has promised that the Nigerian government will act against lawlessness and the targeting of South African assets in Nigeria, the presidency said. Ramaphosa reaffirmed the South Africa-Nigeria relations as being firm and strong, saying the two partners were resolute in their shared commitment to building an Africa at peace with itself and others, according to the presidency.

South Africa is host to some 274,000 refugees and asylum seekers, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Xenophobia-related attacks are common in South Africa where foreigners are blamed for taking up employment that should have been taken by locals.


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