A Rwanda delegation heads to France today (Monday) to ascertain the role Paris played in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide. This comes after President Paul Kagame held a news conference with the French Foreign minister. During the session, Bernard Kouchner admitted French political complicity in the genocide, but sharply denied France’s militarily involvement in the slaughter, which saw scores of ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus exterminated. Some political observers have hailed France’s admission, saying the move could mark a turning point in the sore diplomatic relations between the two countries.
From the capital Kigali, Rwanda’s foreign minister Charles Murigande tells reporter Peter Clottey that he welcomes France’s admission.
“I think it is a good position of the evolution of the French government. In the past they did not accept any responsibility whatsoever. Now, they seem to have accepted to have made serious political mistakes. That is a good first step towards acknowledging that they played a role in the 1994 genocide because if you make mistakes, there surely have to be consequences for your mistakes. The point of view of the Rwandans is that these consequences were the 1994 genocide. Their (France) point of view is that they made serious political mistakes, but they did not take any part in the 1994 genocide. The mere fact the minister of foreign minister of France came to Rwanda is in itself a positive development,” Murigande noted.
He said Rwandans welcome France’s political complicity in the country’s genocide.
“I think in general the Rwanda people received it very well, although I cannot claim to have conducted a census of the opinion of the Rwandese people. But I would believe that the people of Rwanda would welcome such an admission because it has been lacking for the last 14 years,” he said.
Murigande said diplomatic relations between the two countries could improve in the future.
“I think this admission is the first step towards a long process of normalization of relationship between our two countries. We’ve instituted a joint commission to look at all the problems that have arisen between the two countries. As we speak, a Rwandan delegation is on its way to Paris to meet their counterparts and start a critical review of what the role of France was (in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide),” Murigande pointed out.
He said sore relations between Rwanda and France could take a while to resume being smooth and uninhibited.
“I would expect that it would take some time because as you will recall, the diplomatic relationship was severed or broken off following the issuing of international arrest warrants by a French judge against members of the leadership of our country. This was a very serious development, and we do not take it lightly, and we shall have to address issues like that and many other issues in order for us to resume diplomatic relations on a good and firm solid ground,” he noted.
French Foreign minister Bernard Kouchner says his visit to Kigali is meant to improve relations between the two countries.