Rwandan president Kagame claims French report on genocide “an important step”

Rwandan President Paul Kagame applauded a report released on Wednesday that found France to be largely responsible for the 1994 genocide against Tutsis in his country. 

Last month, a commission set up by French President Emmanuel Macron said France had “remained blind” to plans for the mass killing of 800,000 Rwandans, many from the ethnic Tutsi minority. 

The “scathing” report comes after years of allegations that France failed to do anything to stop the massacres and was also involved in them, and it continues to sour relations between the two nations.

In his first remarks following the report’s publication, delivered at a ceremony to commemorate the start of the genocide, Kagame said it “marks an important step toward a common understanding of what took place”.

“It also marks the change, it shows the desire, even for leaders in France, to move forward with a good understanding of what happened,” said Kagame..

Earlier, Kagame and his wife Jeannette lit a remembrance flame at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, where annual commemorations are organized to remember the victims.

Rwanda’s Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana, with whom Paris had established close relations, was killed when his plane was shot down over Kigali on April 6, 1994, and the genocide began.

According to Africanews, the report said there had been a “failure” on the part of France under former leader Francois Mitterrand for adopting a “binary view” that set then-head of state Juvénal Habyarimana as a “Hutu ally” against an “enemy” of Tutsi forces backed by Uganda.

“President Mitterrand’s closest advisers knew that a genocide against the Tutsi was being planned by their allies in Rwanda,” Kagame said.

“Despite that knowledge, the president decided to continue supporting them, because he believed this was necessary for France’s geopolitical position. Rwandan lives were just pawns in geopolitical games.”

Kagame stated that a parallel inquiry conducted by Rwandan authorities would be released this month, saying the conclusions “go in the same direction” as the French report.

He did, however, criticize “the decades-long effort by certain French officials to cover up their responsibilities”, claiming it had caused “significant damage”.

“The important thing is to continue working together to document the truth,” Kagame said.

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