Elysee: France and Rwanda restore diplomatic relations

30th November 2009, Comments 0 comments

France and Rwanda plan to restore diplomatic ties cut in 2006 when Paris issued arrest warrants for aides to President Paul Kagame over the genocide in the African state, officials here said Sunday.

Paris - France and Rwanda plan to restore diplomatic ties cut in 2006 when Paris issued arrest warrants for aides to President Paul Kagame over the genocide in the African state, officials here said Sunday.

President Nicolas Sarkozy's chief of staff Claude Gueant met Sunday with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Kigali and after that meeting the two leaders decided to restore relations, Sarkozy's office said in a statement.

The announcement came on the same day that the mainly French-speaking former Belgian colony was admitted into the Commonwealth grouping dominated by former British possessions.

Ties between Paris and Kigali have been strained since the 1994 genocide, owing to Kigali's accusation that French forces trained the extremist Hutu militia that carried out the killings.

Kigali has also repeatedly accused France of having evacuated or facilitated the departure from Rwanda of high-ranking figures implicated in the genocide. Paris denies the charges.

Rwanda broke off relations in 2006 after French investigating judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere issued warrants for nine Rwandans suspected of plotting the downing of Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana's plane in April 1994.

That crash sparked violence that rapidly escalated and led to the massacre of around 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Bruguiere also accused Kagame of ordering the shooting down of the plane that was carrying Habyarimana as well as neighbouring Burundi's former leader Cyprien Ntaryamira, who were both ethnic Hutus.

The judge began probing the case because the crew of the aircraft were French and their families filed a case in France.

When he started investigating whether then rebel leader Kagame had a role in the crash, Kigali retaliated with a lengthy report that accused France of having supported the perpetrators of the genocide.

France is currently investigating a dozen cases of Rwandans suspected of involvement in genocide or crimes against humanity in the 1994 atrocities.

But only two people have been formally charged -- a Kigali priest and a former state official in Gikongoro, southern Rwanda.

Among those under investigation in France is Agathe Habyarimana, the widow of president Habyarimana.

A doctor working in a hospital in northern France was suspended from his post last month and is under investigation for taking part in massacres in the southern city of Butare.

Rwanda's restoration of its ties with France was the second diplomatic breakthrough Sunday for the small central African country of 10 million people.

Earlier, at a summit in the Caribbean island of Trinidad, it was welcomed into the Commonwealth.

As the group marked 60 years since it rose out of the break-up of the British empire, the African state became its 54th member.

After Mozambique which joined 14 years ago, it is only the second country with no ties to Britain's colonial past and no constitutional links to London to be admitted to the Commonwealth.

AFP/Expatica

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