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Rwanda Demands French Apology for Alleged Role in Genocide

The Rwandan government says it will not restore diplomatic relations with France unless France apologizes for damages it inflicted on the country during its 1994 genocide. The government cut ties with France last month and subsequently expelled the French ambassador. It also closed all French-aided projects in the country.

Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Charles Murigande spoke about Kigali’s call for France to apologize. “For the last 12 years, we tried to build relationship somehow ignoring the role that France had played in the genocide," he said. "We have realized that this is a big bone of contention between Rwanda and France and it would continue to poison the relationship between the two countries. I think for the two countries to renew normal diplomatic relationship, it is better to tackle head on this issue of the role that France had played during the genocide. Otherwise, we would be building on moving sand.”

Murigande dismissed opponents of the government who are asking for the government’s proof of France’s complicity in the genocide.

“That is really primary school stuff. When France sent its soldiers to fight along the forces that committed the genocide, they did this in broad daylight. It isn’t really a secret of what France did in Rwanda, it is very well known,” Murigande noted.

He said Rwanda’s Patriotic Front (RPF) rebels defeated the French troops during the genocide and would do it again if France should try to arm rebels fighting the government.

“France may do that, but France in the past supported these militias and former soldiers when they were running government and yet we eventually defeated them. It would be an uphill task for France to transform these rag tags militias into a force that could eventually defeat us,” he said.

Murigande said students of the closed French schools could join other schools or start a new school following the national curriculum.

“There existed one French school here, which had about 200 children. It wouldn’t be difficult to distribute those students in the very many schools that exist in Kigali. So it's not problem at all and they were just in the first term," he said. "So these children can either choose to enroll in other schools or they can even create their own school following Rwanda’s curricula.”

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