Kagame renews attack on France and Belgium for ‘direct involvement’ in genocide
France ‘an actor’ in massacre of Tutsis, says Rwandan president
Rwandan president Paul Kagame: pointed to ‘the direct role of Belgium and France in the political preparation of the genocide, and the participation of the latter in its actual execution’. Photograph: Evan Schneider/UN via Getty Images)
France has reacted with fury to Rwandan president Paul Kagame’s renewed accusations of direct French involvement in the 1994 genocide, on the eve of ceremonies marking the 20th anniversary.
The French government announced that justice minister Christiane Taubira would not attend the commemorations in Kigali after Mr Kagame, in an interview with the Jeune Afrique magazine, accused both France and Belgium of having a “direct role” in the genocide.
Some 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in the four-month killing spree triggered by the assassination of Rwanda’s Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana.
The spirited French reaction highlights France’s tormented relations with Rwanda since Mr Kagame, the former leader of the Tutsi rebels who swept to power after the genocide, became president.
Didier Reynders, the foreign minister of Belgium – the former colonial power in Rwanda– said he still intended to travel to Kigali to pay homage to the victims and their families. “We are not going to pay homage to the current Rwandan government,” he said yesterday.
The French foreign minister at the time of the 1994 massacres, Alain Juppé, said Mr Kagame’s comments were a “falsification of history”.
Mr Kagame notably said that France had not “done enough to save lives” by mounting Operation Turquoise in the west of the country, and had not only been complicit but “an actor” in the massacre of Tutsis. He pointed to “the direct role of Belgium and France in the political preparation of the genocide, and the participation of the latter in its actual execution”.
Mr Juppé said it was “intolerable that we are being designated as the main culprits.”
France’s financial and military support of the Hutu authorities in Rwanda are at the root of Mr Kagame’s suspicions. After two decades of mistrust, including a three-year break in diplomatic relations, there had been a tentative fence-mending in recent months.
Last month France sentenced a Hutu former army captain, Pascal Simbikangwa, to 25 years in jail on genocide charges in the first such trial, and it has arrested a second suspect.
But Mr Kagame shrugged off the verdict. “We’ll see what becomes of this sentence on appeal,” he told Jeune Afrique . – (Guardian Service)