The french president Emmanuel Macron said this Thursday in Rwanda that he recognized “the responsibilities” of France in the 1994 genocide in that African country, in a speech delivered at the Kigali memorial.
France “He was not an accomplice” but allowed “for too long for silence to prevail over the examination of the truth,” he said, adding that “only those who crossed the night can perhaps forgive, give us the gift of forgiveness.”
SIGHT: France bears “overwhelming responsibility” for Rwandan genocide
The long-awaited speech took place during an official visit to Rwanda, announced as the “final step in the normalization of relations” between the two countries, after more than 25 years of tension over France’s role in the tragedy, which left at least 800,000 dead, mostly Tutsis, between April and July 1994.
“Here today, with humility and respect, I have come to recognize our responsibilities”, He said Emmanuel Macron in a speech after a visit to the genocide memorial museum.
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“Recognizing this past is also and above all continuing the work of justice. Committing ourselves to guarantee that no suspect of crimes of genocide can escape the work of the judges ”, he added.
However, the French president said that France “was not an accomplice.”
France’s role before, during and after the Rwandan genocide has been a hot topic for years, even leading to the breakdown of diplomatic relations between Paris and Kigali between 2006 and 2009.
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A report by historians published in March and headed by Vincent Duclert concluded that France had “heavy and overwhelming responsibilities” and that the then socialist president François Mitterrand and his entourage were “blinded” by the racist and genocidal drift of the Hutu government, which Paris supported. then.
The Ibuka survivors association lamented the lack of “excuses” from Macron.
The French president arrived this Thursday at Rwanda.
The Genocide Memorial houses the remains of 250,000 of the more than 800,000 victims of one of the bloodiest tragedies of the 20th century.
With this speech Macron goes further than his predecessors, in particular Nicolas Sarkozy, the only French president to have traveled to Kigali since the 1994 genocide. Sarkozy had recognized “serious errors” and “a form of blindness” of the French authorities that he had “absolutely dramatic” consequences.
For Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who led the Tutsi rebellion that ended the genocide, the report marked a turnaround in relations between the two countries.
Visiting France last week, Kagame said the report had paved the way for France and Rwanda to have “a good relationship.”
“I can live with” the report’s findings, Kagame said in an interview with France 24 and RFI. “We can leave the rest behind and move on,” he added.
Macron’s visit to Rwanda will mark the “final stage of normalization of relations”, the French presidency said on Wednesday.
To finalize the normalization of relations, the two presidents could agree on the return of a French ambassador to Kigali, a vacant post since 2015.
Another step will be the inauguration by Macron of the “Francophone cultural center” in Kigali, an establishment that “will have the vocation of promoting not only French culture, but also all the resources of the Francophonie, especially the artists of the region”, according to the presidency.
After Rwanda, Macron will travel to South Africa, where he will hold talks with President Cyril Ramaphosa about fighting COVID-19 and its impact on the world economy.
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