France denies Rwanda genocide role

French foreign ministry says allegations are ‘unacceptable’.

Paris and Kigali continuously blame each other for the atrocities committed in 1994 [AFP]
Paris and Kigali continuously blame each other for the atrocities committed in 1994 [AFP]

Romain Nadal, the foreign ministry spokesman, said on Wednesday: “This report contains unacceptable accusations made against French political and military officials.”

‘Questionable objectivity’

Nadal said France had not received the report through “official channels”.

“It is possible to question the objectivity of the mandate of this ‘Independent commission charged by the Rwandan authorities to gather evidence showing the implication of the French state in the genocide carried out in Rwanda in 1994’,” he said, quoting the official title of the Rwandan inquiry.

The report said: “The French support was of a political, military, diplomatic and logistic nature.

“Considering the gravity of the alleged facts, the Rwandan government asks competent authorities to undertake all necessary actions to bring the accused French political and military leaders to answer for their acts before justice.”

But Nadal suggested France would not let the report further sour relations between Paris and Kigali, which severed diplomatic ties in November 2006.

“Our determination to build a new relationship with Rwanda, moving beyond our difficult past, remains intact,” he said.

The spokesman highlighted the meeting in December between Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president and his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame, and a subsequent visit to Kigali by Bernard Kouchner, the foreign minister, as evidence of warming ties.

“We continue to place our relationship with Rwanda within this forward-looking perspective,” he said.

French ‘complicity’

Andrew Tusabe, the acting charge d’affaires for the Rwandan embassy in Washington, told Al Jazeera the report exposed French complicity at the highest levels.

“If you go to the report you will see for yourself how communication was done from the top leadership in Paris to the embassy in Kigali and how different people who had a role in the genocide were housed at the embassy residence,” he said.

The report accused senior French military officials of complicity [AFP]

Tharcisse Karugarama, Rwanda’s justice minister, said the report also highlighted “the role played by France in the aftermath to protect the genocidal forces and make it very difficult for them to be apprehended and brought to justice”.

The report accused the French of helping to train the Hutus, the ethnic group blamed for the slaughter of 800,000 people, and for forcing hundreds of thousands more to flee their homes.

“This should be clear that this report will not lie down, put in store somewhere. This report will be used,” Karugarama said.

“It will help in bringing to justice, making very serious attempts to bring to justice people who were involved in committing genocide in this country.”

‘Too late’

Paul Rusesabagina, whose story of saving some 12,000 people during the genocide inspired the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda, told Al Jazeera that while there is no evidence to prove that France was aware of any preparation for the genocide, its troops arrived “too late” for any civilians to be saved.
“It was too late because millions of people were on their way crossing the borders to all the neighbouring countries… millions of people were going to Congo and Burundi and also to Tanzania.

“The whole country was almost empty… and many hundreds had already been killed,” he said.

Along with Mitterrand and de Villepin, other senior officials listed in the report include Alain Juppe, a former foreign minister who is also a senior figure in Sarkozy’s party, and Edouard Balladur, a former prime minister.

Another suspect is Hubert Vedrine who, like Balladur, is a senior politician.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies


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