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Rwanda-France: Macron to make an official visit to Kigali

By Jeune Afrique
Posted on Tuesday, 23 February 2021 18:43

Paul Kagame et Emmanuel Macron lors du salon VivaTech, à Paris, en mai 2018 © Michel Euler/AP/SIPA

French President Emmanuel Macron is due to visit Rwanda in the coming weeks.

French President Emmanuel Macron has planned to make an official visit to Kigali between April and May, during the highly symbolic period commemorating the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda. However, this trip remains dependent on the evolution of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Diplomatic rapprochement

Since coming to power in May 2017, the French president has begun a diplomatic rapprochement with his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame. A thaw began after several years of tension, due in part to an investigation into the attack on President Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane for which French judges issued a dismissal order in July 2019. France hasn’t had an ambassador in Kigali since Michel Flesch’s resignation in 2015. The position is currently being occupied by President Macron’s chargé d’affaires, Jérémie Blin.

The French president is expected to make his visit before 18 May, when Paris plans to hold its summit on investment in Africa. A dozen heads of state have been invited, including President Kagame, who has actively participated in the organisation of this event.

A report in early April

Macron will therefore be the first French head of state to visit Rwanda since Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit in February 2010 and the first – if he travels as planned between April and May – to visit Kigali during the period commemorating the Tutsi genocide.

Invited by the Rwandan authorities in April 2019, Macron had sent MP Hervé Berville to represent him. The French president had nevertheless announced that a commission would be established to investigate France’s controversial role during the genocide.

Headed by historian Vincent Duclert, the commission is due to deliver its final report in early April. According to our sources at the Élysée Palace, its conclusions are not likely to call into question this official trip.