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Report Charging French Complicity in Rwanda Genocide Draws Mixed Reaction

A report published by President Paul Kagame's government, which accuses France of complicity in Rwanda's 1994 genocide is reportedly receiving mixed reaction. Opponents of President Kagame's government are questioning the timing of the report after commissioners presented it to the government more than six months ago. Some political analysts say the report would further worsen the relationship between Kigali and Paris. Kagame's government has previously accused Paris of covering up its role in training troops and militia who carried out massacres that killed some 800,000 people, and of supporting the ethnic Hutu leaders who orchestrated the slaughter.

France denies that and says its forces helped protect people during a U.N.-sanctioned mission in Rwanda at the time. Jean Bosco Gasasira is the editor of the Umuvugizi Independent Newspaper in Rwanda. From the capital, Kigali he tells reporter Peter Clottey that Rwandans say the report could worsen the already testy relationship between Kigali and Paris.

"Rwandans are reacting in two ways. Some are seeing the publishing of the report as long overdue because the commission handed over the report to His Excellency Paul Kagame six months ago. They were asking why the report wasn't published up till today and they see the truth of the report, most especially showing deeply the role of France in the Rwanda genocide. But on another side, some are seeing the publishing of the report from a political point of view as pure politics because the report commissioner was initiated after a French judge indicted about 14 Rwanda RUF (Rwanda Patriotic Front) forces showing that they also committed war crimes. But the report indicates that France had an upper hand in the genocide," Gasasira pointed out.

He said some Rwandans are expressing worry about the deterioration of relations with France.

"Definitely, the relationship would be hurt, but it is not even because of this report. I can even tell you that since RUF was still fighting, France did not have a good relationship with RUF. But even coming today, the relationship between France and the ruling party is like a game of the cat and a rat. So, the relationship has not been great, but the report could destroy the prevailing relationship that exists. So, that is our worry, especially after this report," he said.

Gasasira said the government is explaining to ordinary Rwandans why France was deeply involved in the country's genocide, which led to the enormous loss of lives and property.

"The government is explaining and bringing Rwandans far away and showing them what the French did in the 1994 genocide in the southern part of the country, whereby the French were behind what happened there. The government is trying to explain to the entire population the military relationship between the former government and the French. So the report is showing the French upper hand in the genocide," Gasasira noted.

He said some Rwandans want the report to be translated into other international languages.

"Definitely, there were some politicians who were there, and some of the pro-government journalists were calling upon the government to translate the report in international languages, French and English, so that the report could be submitted to the Security Council and the European parliament. This is a way pavement for indictment and the way I see it is propaganda against the French government showing France's upper hand in the genocide and the way they could be indicted," he said.

Rwanda's President Kagame cut ties with France two years ago after a French judge's called for him to stand trial over the death of his predecessor in April 1994, which is widely believed to have sparked the country's genocide. The call for Kagame to stand trial reportedly prompted street protests in Kigali. Relations soured further after the Rwandan commission later heard accounts from victims who said French soldiers raped them after seeking refuge with them during the genocide.