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Rwanda’s genocide report points finger at former French president François Mitterrand

By Mehdi Ba
Posted on Wednesday, 21 April 2021 11:10

Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana is received at the Elysée Palace by President Francois Mitterrand on 17 July 1992 in Paris. William STEVENS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

A report commissioned by the Rwandan government on France’s role in the 1994 Tutsi genocide was formally presented to the country’s cabinet on 19 April. Prepared by an American law firm, the report examines France’s involvement in the genocide while trying to avoid adding fuel to the fire as relations between the two countries continue to thaw.

Those expecting a barrage of explosive statements are in for a disappointment. Made public on Monday 19 April, the investigation into France’s role in Rwanda from 1990 to 1994 – before and during the genocide – refrains from drawing any headline-grabbing conclusions that could reopen old wounds about a tragic dispute that has kept Kigali and Paris from restoring their diplomatic relations in any lasting way for a quarter century.

The report’s authors made the following terse but unprovocative observation, like a would-be slogan, worthy of the kind of understatement to which Rwandans have grown accustomed: “[T]he Government of France … enabled a foreseeable genocide.” It serves as a cryptic verdict in which the long-awaited operative words – notably French “responsibility” and “complicity” – have been mostly left out.

“We didn’t tackle the issue of complicity, which, for that matter, is something we don’t really understand. We zeroed in on the facts,” said a Rwandan official without elaborating further.

A diplomatic slight

A great deal of time has passed since the Mucyo Commission published its August 2008 report, the title of which alone smacked of a diplomatic slight aimed at France: “National Independent Commission Charged With Gathering Evidence to Show the Implication of the French Government in the Genocide Perpetrated in Rwanda in 1994”.