Kagame to visit France next month: Rwanda

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Rwandan President Paul Kagame will make an official visit to France next month, the first by a Rwandan head of state since 1990, Kigali said Wednesday.

"President Kagame will make an official visit to France on September 12-13, 2011 at the invitation of President Nicolas Sarkozy," the Rwandan government said in a statement.

The visit follows that of French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Rwanda in February 2010 "that marked a major step forward in diplomatic relations with France, which were renewed at the end of 2009", it added.

The appointment of Alain Juppe as French Foreign Minister in March led to a renewal of political tension between Kigali and Paris.

The two countries have long trading accusations over the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and Juppe said after his appointment he had no intention of "shaking hands" with Kagame as long as a Rwandan report accusing France of conniving with the perpetrators of the crimes remains in circulation.

The 2008 report by a Rwandan panel accuses France of having "taken part" in the genocide under cover of a UN mission dubbed Operation Turquoise in June 1994, and targets Juppe and several other French politicians.

Juppe held the same post as part of a different government at the time of the genocide.

Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo travelled to Paris on July 19 to prepare for a Kagame visit. She met Cooperation Minister Henri de Raincourt, but not Juppe, whose spokesman said the minister was too busy.

"President Kagames visit to France is a significant milestone in closer relations between our two countries," Mushikiwabo said in Wednesday's statement.

"The visit will be an opportunity to discuss how France and Rwanda can continue to work together, particularly in business and investment, building on the progress Rwanda has made in the last 17 years."

In addition to a meeting with Sarkozy in Paris, Kagame will meet the French business community and Rwandans living in France.

© 2011 AFP

1 Comment To This Article

  • James Munyaneza posted:

    on 19th August 2011, 19:59:17 - Reply

    Between 1993-94, Alain Juppe described then Mr Kagame-led Rwanda Patriotic Front liberators Khmer Noir, a reference borrowed from Cambodia's Khmer slayers Rouges slayers of 70s and 80s. That was a great insult to a group of young men and women risking their own lives to save a country from a genocide orchestrated by a Paris-backed govt.

    Indeed Mr Juppe and several other senior French political and military leaders, at the time, distorted the happenings in Rwanda, portraying the killers as the victims, and, as a result, received approval for Operation Zone Turquoise (by French troops), which instead of saving the lives of those in danger, wooed them out of their hidings in Bisesero and other hills in western Rwanda, only to retreat and leave them helpless Tutsis at the mercy of the Interahamwe militia, who would later decimate them. In Bisesero alone, more than 60,000 Tutsis were killed, thanks to the tricks employed by Zone Turquoise soldiers.

    It is thus a slap in the face of Rwanda for France to reappoint a man who helped cause so much deaths and suffering in a country with which Paris looks interested to make amends.

    It would indeed be a disaster if Juppe turned up at the airport to receive President Kagame and his entourage. I hope he wont be anywhere around the man he badly vilified. Hopefully....