SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 23 June 2021, Wednesday |

Macron Seeks Reset With Rwanda On Africa Visit

Macron is the first French leader since 2010 to visit the central African country, which has long accused France of complicity in the mass killings of Rwandan Tutsis.

Years of mutual finger-pointing came to an abrupt halt in March when a commission appointed by Macron returned a damning indictment of France’s role in the bloodshed.

In findings accepted by the French government, the historians accused Paris, which had close ties to the ethnic Hutu regime behind the massacres, of being “blind” to preparations for the genocide and said it bore “serious and overwhelming” responsibility.

The commission found no proof, however, of French complicity in the bloodshed.

For Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who led the Tutsi rebellion that ended the genocide and had led the charge against France ever since, the report was a game-changer.

On a visit to France last week, Kagame, who at one point broke off relations with France, said the report had paved the way for France and Rwanda to have “a good relationship.”

Ahead of Macron’s visit to Kigali, both sides have spoken enthusiastically of a “normalisation” of ties.

French officials say Macron could also use the visit to name an ambassador to Rwanda, filling a post left vacant since 2015.

But some in Rwanda want France to go further in facing up to the past and officially apologise for failing to help stop the killing of 800,000 Rwandans between April and July 1994.

They will be listening closely when Macron delivers a speech on Thursday at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, the final resting place for over 250,000 genocide victims.

Kagame has downplayed the importance of the issue.

“It’s not up to me, or anyone else to demand apologies,” he told Le Monde newspaper in a recent interview, insisting that any such expression had to be spontaneous on the part of the French.