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France bears ‘heavy responsibilities’ in the Rwanda genocide

At least 800,000 people died when ethnic Hutu extremists massacred minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Assassination of a president

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The massacres occurred after the assassination of the then Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana on April 6, 1994 in a plane crash.

Rwanda president killed
Mr Habyarimana – a Hutu backed by France – was on his way back to Rwanda when his plane was shot down. Photo: AFP

Habyarimana was killed when his plane was shot down. Tutsi rebels, led by current president, Paul Kagame were accused of carrying out the attack resulting in some arrests.

In 2018 French investigators ended their probe into the attack that largely triggered the genocide.

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Investigators in France have been probing nine officials from Rwanda following the killing of Juvenal Habyarimana.

The charges were dropped reportedly over insufficient evidence. Relatives of the french crew killed in the incident demanded a probe.

France role in Rwanda genocide
June 1994: French soldiers on patrol pass ethnic Hutu militiamen in Rwanda. Photo: AFP

Macron ordered analysis

President Macron in May 2019 ordered the creation of the commission to analyse France’s role in Rwanda from 1990-1994 through archival research.

The latest report concluded that in July 1994 “murderers but also the masterminds of the genocide” were in a safe zone established by French forces in the west of the country “who the French political authorities refused to arrest.”

The report said the responsibility laid on the former socialist president François Mitterrand, who was in office at the time of the genocide.

French president Macron
Copyright © africanews
Ludovic Marin, Pool photo via AP

France says it hoped the report will help develop and improve relations with Rwanda.

“We hope that this report will be able to lead to other developments in our relationship with Rwanda” a statement from the presidency read.

It added that “This time, the process of rapprochement can be started in an irreversible way.”

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