France has cancelled plans to attend a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide following allegations by Rwanda's president that France participated in the mass killings.
French Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal told VOA that France was surprised by the declarations. He said the accusations go against the ongoing process of reconciliation between the two countries.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame told the weekly Jeune Afrique
that France and Belgium played what he called a "direct role" in the political preparation for the genocide. In the interview, to be published Sunday, he also accused France of participating in the genocide in "its very execution."
The French Foreign Ministry said Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, who had been due to travel to Rwanda on Monday, would no longer attend the commemoration.
Relations between France and Rwanda have long been strained. Ties were completely frozen between 2006 and 2009 but had been gradually improving in the last few years.
Rwanda has often accused France of aiding the perpetrators of the 1994 genocide — an accusation France has denied.
In 2006, a French judge accused President Kagame of ordering the assassination of then-Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana, whose death in a plane crash set off the massacres.
During Rwanda's genocide, Hutu extremists killed an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus during a span of 100 days.
Some information for this report comes from AFP and Reuters.