Rwandan leader says France fired genocide

16th March 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 16 (AFP) - President Paul Kagame of Rwanda accused France on Tuesday of "directly" taking part in the 1994 genocide in his country by supplying arms and giving orders to those who massacred up to one million people.

PARIS, March 16 (AFP) - President Paul Kagame of Rwanda accused France on Tuesday of "directly" taking part in the 1994 genocide in his country by supplying arms and giving orders to those who massacred up to one million people.

"They supplied weapons, they gave orders and instructions to the perpetrators of genocide," he told the French state-owned RFI radio.

"The French were there when the genocide took place. They trained those who carried it out. They had positions of command in the armed forces who committed the genocide," he said.

"They also directly participated in operations by putting up road blocks to identify people by ethnic origin, punishing the Tutsis and supporting the Hutus," he said.

Kagame was speaking a week after Le Monde newspaper reported that a French police investigation had found him personally responsible for the assassination of his predecessor Juvenal Habyarimana, whose death in a rocket attack on his aeroplane in April 1994 triggered the Rwanda massacres.

"It is time for France to look at its own responsibilities rather than creating diversions," Kagame said.

"In 91 or 92 I was in Paris at the invitation of the authorities and an official said to me, 'If you do not stop the war, by the time you arrive in Kigali you will all be dead.' I never forgot those words which are proof of the involvement of the French government, or of certain elements," he said.

"Are these elements who were involved in the genocide above the law? Are the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Court just for third world countries?" he said.

Kagame, an ethnic Tutsi, was leading a rebellion by his Rwanda Patriotic Front when Habyarimana, a Hutu, was killed on April 6 1994.

The next day Hutu extremist militias and the Rwandan army, which at the time was controlled by Hutus, launched a 100-day massacre of at least 800,000 minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus.

The 10th anniversary of the killings, in which the government says up to a million people died, will be marked next month.

The Rwandan government has strongly denied the allegation in the French police report that Kagame, who led his mainly Tutsi rebels to seize Kigali and put an end to the massacres in July 1994, was the "decision-maker" behind the missile attack.

France, which was Habyarimana's main international backer, was accused of doing nothing to stop - if not actually colluding in - the massacres. It denies the charge - frequently made in the past by Kagame and the RPF - that it played a role.

Controversy over the circumstances of Habyarimana's death deepened last week when the United Nations, which itself came under heavy criticism for its failure to prevent the genocide, admitted that it had in its possession an aircraft's black box believed to be from the crashed plane.

The black box, which has not been examined for the information it contains, has been locked in a filing cabinet at UN headquarters in New York since 1994.

© AFP

                                                              Subject: France news

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