Rwanda:President Kagame Rejects Paris Envoy
Weekly Jeune Afrique earlier reported that Kigali had this month rejected the nomination of Helene Le Gal, currently France’s consul in Quebec, because she was considered too close to French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe.
The magazine said Juppe “has long been considered hostile to the current authorities in Kigali.”
Floreani would neither confirm nor deny this was the reason for Le Gal’s rejection, but said ties between the two countries were strong.
“Relations between France and Rwanda have not stopped strengthening since the visit of the president (Nicolas Sarkozy) to Kigali in February 2010, which sealed at the highest level the political and economic recovery between our two countries,” he said.
“The good quality of our bilateral relations was shown by the recent visits in France of Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo in July 2011 and President Paul Kagame in September,” he added.
Contini, considered close to former foreign minister Bernard Kouchner, fell out of favour with Juppe last year after making statements considered too favourable to Kigali.
Juppe, who was also foreign minister during the Rwandan genocide in 1994, has said he will not “shake hands” with Kagame or go to Rwanda following the release of a 2008 report accusing France of complicity in the genocide.
Juppe, who has dismissed the report as “lies and fabrications”, did not meet his Rwandan counterpart when she visited France and was outside the country during Kagame’s visit.
France and Rwanda have a history of difficult ties and relations between the two countries were broken off between 2006 and 2009.
Tensions have eased this year after experts mandated by a French inquiry to probe the 1994 downing of Rwandan leader Juvenal Habyarimana’s jet cleared Kagame’s aides of involvement.
The assassination of Habyarimana was one of the triggers that unleashed a genocide that left around 800,000 Rwandans dead.
Following the 1994 attack, hardliners from the slain president’s Hutu ethnic group, led by members of his inner circle, began to slaughter members of Kagame’s Tutsi minority.
Kagame’s rebel FPR eventually managed to overthrow the Hutu-led regime.