Monday, March 15, 2010

France / Rwandan Genocide

France Looks to Put Ghosts of Rwandan Genocide to Rest
By Edward Cody
The Washington Post, March 14, 2010
"[...] After years of estrangement, the leaders of France and Rwanda have sought to reconcile despite lingering resentment over France's close military and diplomatic ties to the Hutu-run government that was blamed for the massacre of an estimated 800,000 Tutsis during a civil war in 1994. For Rwanda, now controlled by Tutsis, the rapprochement has meant an opportunity to deal normally with one of the main diplomatic and economic actors in Africa, where France retains numerous allies and considerable influence among its former colonies. For France, renewal of relations has carried another message as well: hope for an end to the accusations at home and in Africa that French soldiers and political leaders stood by while Tutsis were being slaughtered by the thousands. An official Rwandan investigation concluded two years ago that France had been 'politically and militarily complicit' in the genocide. But a French parliamentary investigation in 1998 affirmed that the government at the time, headed by President François Mitterrand and Prime Minister Edouard Balladur, did nothing wrong. Against that uneasy background, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, during a landmark visit to Kigali, the Rwandan capital, and Rwandan President Paul Kagame vowed last month to put the blood-soaked debate behind them -- or at least to act as if the chapter were closed. Using carefully negotiated language, Sarkozy acknowledged for the first time that France and its troops in Rwanda at the time committed 'errors' as the Tutsis were being killed by France's Hutu allies. In return, Kagame, a former Tutsi rebel leader, dispatched an ambassador to Paris and promised to work with France in pacifying Congo and other areas of Central Africa's war-racked Great Lakes region. [...]"

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