New report sheds light on France's role in Rwandan genocide

New report sheds light on France's role in Rwandan genocide
Nyamata Memorial Site, Credit: Wikimedia

Rwanda’s government has welcomed the publication of a new French report on the 1994 Tutsi genocide, describing it as “an important step towards a common understanding” of France’s role.

The report by a commission of historians, submitted on Friday to President Emmanuel Macron, states that France “remained blind to the preparation” of the genocide and bears “heavy and overwhelming” responsibilities in the tragedy, which claimed the lives of at least 800,000 people, most of them Tutsi.

"The Government of Rwanda welcomes the report of the Duclert Commission, which represents an important step towards a common understanding of France’s role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi," the Rwandan Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday.

"An investigative report commissioned by the Government of Rwanda in 2017 will be released in coming weeks, the conclusions of which will enrich those of the Duclert Commission," it added.

The research carried out by the commission, headed by French historian Vincent Duclert, points to “France’s failure in Rwanda” between 1990 and 1994 and its “blindness” to the genocidal shift of the “racist, corrupt and violent” regime of Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana, “despite repeated warnings issued from Kigali, Kampala or Paris.”

The report stressed, however, that there was no evidence of French complicity in the genocide, in which at least 800,000 persons died between April and July 1994, according to the United Nations.

France’s role in Rwanda has been an explosive issue between the two countries for over 25 years, even if their relations have thawed since Emmanuel Macron became president in 2017.

In a press release issued on Friday, Macron described the report as a “significant step forward” in understanding France’s involvement in Rwanda. “We hope the report might lead to new developments in our relationship with Rwanda,” he said, and that “this time the process of rapprochement can be irreversible.”

Macron will speak “in due course” on the lessons he will have drawn from the report, his office reported.

The Brussels Times

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