Probe into France's role in 1994 Rwanda genocide

2nd August 2004, Comments 0 comments

KIGALI, Aug 1 (AFP) - The central African state of Rwanda is to investigate France's alleged role in genocide there 10 years ago in which the United Nations estimates 800,000 people died, the Rwandan government said Sunday.

KIGALI, Aug 1 (AFP) - The central African state of Rwanda is to investigate France's alleged role in genocide there 10 years ago in which the United Nations estimates 800,000 people died, the Rwandan government said Sunday.

A cabinet meeting chaired by President Paul Kagame on Friday adopted a bill "to create a national independent commission charged with assembling the evidence of France's involvement in the genocide perpetrated in Rwanda in 1994," said a statement sent to AFP.

Rwanda's Foreign Minister Charles Murigande said here Sunday France was willing to "accept an equitable share of the blame" for what happened during the massacre.

Last month, France and Rwanda agreed to work together to review events leading to the 1994 genocide in a bid to improve relations.

French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said on a visit to South Africa: "We discussed ways to improve and normalise relations between Rwanda and France following some misunderstandings and we agreed to forge a new spirit and work together on genocide remembrance."

France has always denied any involvement in the Rwanda massacres and a French parliamentary commission in 1998 cleared France of responsibility for the genocide while admitting that "strategic errors" had been made.

But Murigande told AFP here Sunday that at their meeting in Pretoria last Wednesday, Barnier had "confirmed that he was willing to accept an equitable share of the blame."

Speaking partly in French, partly in English, Murigande said: "He (Barnier) also said France is not ready to accept an exaggerated role. Therefore there is a need to establish exactly what was the role of France, what was her behaviour, what did she do.

The commission has been put in place to establish that."

Asked about the commission's membership, the minister said the members had not yet been appointed:

"The draft law is going to be submitted to Parliament," he said: "Once Parliament accepts it, membership will come after that."

Among all the countries that Rwanda has pointed the finger at over their alleged behaviour during the genocide, to date France is the only one never yet to have apologised to Rwanda.

France is regularly accused by the present Rwandan government of responsibility for the genocide in which hundreds of thousands of the minority Tutsi ethinic group, and many moderate majority group Hutus, were butchered by Hutu militias.

Last April, on the 10th anniversary of the tragedy, new accusations were levelled, even causing a diplomatic incident with the abrupt departure of a French junior foreign minister, Renaud Muselier.

This was prompted by a speech by President Paul Kagame in which he accused France of having knowingly trained and armed the government troops and militias who went on to commit the genocide.

Muselier described the remarks as "unacceptable, humiliating and untrue." Tutsis claim that France armed and trained the Hutu killers and provided a safe haven for them when they were militarily defeated.

Barnier acknowledged in Pretoria last week that there were recriminations from Rwanda over France's role in the genocide, and that a review of that painful chapter would help improve ties.

"We do not share the view of the Rwandan side about what France did. We have to talk about this very painful past in an impartial and objective manner, work on remembrance, draw lessons from this collective inability by the international community to avert the genocide," Barnier said.

"We agreed on this and on moving forward," the French foreign minister said, adding that he was "pleased by this first exchange" with his Rwandan counterpart.

© AFP

 

Subject: French news

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