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Rwandan Report Alleges French Role in Genocide

The Rwandan government is set to release a report documenting France's role in the country's 1994 genocide. As Derek Kilner reports from VOA's East Africa bureau in Nairobi, Rwandan officials have kept quiet on the contents of the report, but the document is expected to include details of French complicity in the genocide.

The report, running over 500 pages in length, is the product of the "Mucyo Commission", headed by former Justice Minister Jean de Dieu Mucyo.

The Rwandan government has declined to discuss the report's contents before its public release on Tuesday. But Richard Sezibera, an advisor to President Paul Kagame and a former ambassador to the United States, says the contents will be of little surprise to Rwandans.

"Many Rwandans know what took place during the genocide. The report will probably just put together witness testimony and other evidence of their involvement and document it. For the people of Rwanda the expectation is that the report will be part of their history and knowing what took place during the genocide and elucidating the roles of the different actors during that tragic time," said Sezibera.

The United Nations estimates that 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by ethnic Hutu extremists over the course of 100 days in 1994.

Report finds evidence France was aware, participated in genocide

According to a report in the Belgian newspaper Le Soir, the Rwandan report will provide evidence that France was aware of and participated in preparations for the genocide, and even participated in crimes. At a news conference last week, President Kagame said he has evidence of French complicity.

From June to August 1994, France conducted "Operation Turquoise." While France maintains that the operation was humanitarian, the Rwandan government has accused France of supplying arms and training to the Hutu extremists responsible for the genocide.

The French government had been a strong backer of the government of Juvenal Habyarimana. French forces rebuffed an earlier offensive by Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front rebels in 1990. But France denies any involvement in the genocide.

What triggered genocide?

Rwanda broke diplomatic ties with France in November 2006, after a French judge accused President Kagame of involvement in the downing of a plane carrying President Habyarimana, as well as the president of neighboring Burundi, in 1994.

That event provided the trigger for the genocide. President Kagame has denied any role, blaming the incident instead on Hutu militants seeking to use the incident as a catalyst for the campaign of killing.

Relations have remained cool between the countries, but Sezibera says they have improved since the election of France's new president Nicolas Sarkozy last year.

"The relationship has had its problems its slows and downs based mainly on the events that took place during the genocide and the role of France during the genocide," he added. "Since the new government came into power, the relationship has been slowly improving so I could say that it's not as good as it should be but it's getting a little bit better."

The Rwandan commission began its work in April 2006. It presented its report to the Rwandan government in November 2007, but the document has not been released publicly.