Monday, September 12, 2011

Rwanda / France

"President Sarkozy receives President Kagame at the Élysée Palace- Paris, 12 September 2011." (Flickr)
Rwandan Leader, in Paris, Seeks to Ease Tensions
By Steven Erlanger
The New York Times, September 12, 2011
"President Paul Kagame of Rwanda met President Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday in a fence-mending exercise on the Rwandan’s first visit to France since the genocide in his country in 1994. Rwanda and Mr. Kagame have accused the French military of aiding the government, then Hutu-dominated, as it massacred up to 800,000 Rwandans, mainly Tutsi. That government was overthrown by Mr. Kagame, a Tutsi, with help from Uganda. Diplomatic relations between Rwanda and France broke off in 1996 after a French judge implicated Mr. Kagame and his alliesin the 1994 downing of a plane carrying the president at the time, a Hutu, which the government used as a pretext for the genocide. Mr. Sarkozy visited Rwanda last year and said that 'a kind of blindness' had prevented France from seeing the 'genocidal aspect' of the Hutu government. Mr. Sarkozy said he regretted 'mistakes,' but gave no apology. Mr. Kagame said Monday that he would not demand an apology from France and had spoken to Mr. Sarkozy of the future. 'The whole purpose is to find ways of overcoming our differences over the past and going forward with a better relationship,' he told Agence France-Presse in an interview. In an address to the French Institute of Foreign Relations, Mr. Kagame dismissed the complaints of human rights advocates who accused him of jailing opponents and limiting press freedom and said he was emphasizing economic progress and development. His visit coincided with accusations made by Robert Bourgi, a onetime aide to former President Jacques Chirac, that Mr. Chirac and former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin received suitcases of cash from the leaders of former French colonies in Africa to finance French election campaigns. Lawyers for both men deny this. [...]"

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