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Rwandan head denies French genocide claim

BRUSSELS, March 11 (AFP) – Rwandan President Paul Kagame denied Thursday a report implicating him in a 1994 assassination that sparked a genocide in his homeland, accusing France of being behind the charge and trying to “stir up problems”.

Certain people in France have “blood on their hands” since the Rwandan ethnic slaughter, in which up to a million people are believed to have perished, he said during a visit to Brussels.

The French daily Le Monde reported Tuesday that investigators had concluded that Kagame ordered a rocket attack that shot down a plane carrying the then president Juvenal Habyarimana as it came in to land at Kigali airport on April 6, 1994.

“The FPR (his Rwanda Patriotic Front party) and myself have nothing to do with the death of Habyarimana,” he told a press conference, adding: “Very clearly, that information has no credibility.”

In an interview with the daily La Libre Belgique he said: “First, the accusations are not new. Secondly, nobody in the French establishment has the right to make any judgment on the responsibility for events in Rwanda in 1994.”

Asked if there could have been a “political intent by the French government behind the Le Monde accusations,” he replied: “I have no doubt about that.”

According to Le Monde, a report of an investigation led by Parisian judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere names Kagame as the main decision-maker in the attack, which sparked the 100 days of bloodletting in Rwanda.

The day after the assassination the country’s majority Hutu population began the massacres of ethnic Tutsis that lasted till July 17.

“I cannot comment on what judge Bruguiere may have found or may have fabricated,” said Kagame, himself a Tutsi, but added: “The story is invented.”Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, whose country is Rwanda’s former colonial power, also appeared to downplay the report.

“I spoke to the president about this report which has been talked about so much in recent days, even if what is in it is not totally new,” he said after talks with Kagame, who arrived in Brussels on Wednesday for a three-day visit.

The Rwandan leader, questioned as to whether Rwanda’s diplomatic ties with France remain strained, said: “It is more than a diplomatic problem. Certain people in France have blood on their hands since the Rwanda genocide.”

“They have never acknowledged that. They have never changed their position.

The have continued to stir up problems in Rwanda,” he added.

Bruguiere has been investigating the plane crash for the past six years, after the families of French victims who died in it filed suit in Paris.

According to Le Monde, the case is fraught with diplomatic complications because when Bruguiere presents his conclusions to prosecutors it could lead quickly to international arrest warrants for senior members of Kagame’s entourage. Kagame would himself be protected by his presidential immunity.

Le Monde also reported that a French police inquiry had concluded that the United Nations had hampered attempts to look into the deadly rocket attack on Habyarimana’s plane.

UN chief Kofi Annan on Wednesday said the United Nations would investigate the allegations, adding: “I was quite frankly surprised to see that report. I have asked my people to look into it.”

A report in 1999 commissioned by Annan found the United Nations and leading member states responsible for failing to prevent the genocide in the African nation.


                                                              Subject: France news