Rwanda angered by France reopening of 1994 assassination of former President

Rwandan President Paul Kagame (Online photo)

Rwandan President Paul Kagame criticized France on Monday after French investigators reopened a investigation into the 1994 assassination of the Rwandan president, a killing that triggered the country’s genocide.

Speaking to a cheering audience of judges, senior military officers and government officials at an official judicial function, President Kagame said that the judicial system of Rwanda is not subordinate to France or France’s interests.

In 2006, French investigators implicated several Rwandan officials and issued arrest warrants for several army officers, prompting a diplomatic row, in which Rwanda cut off its diplomatic ties with France that year.

In 2008, after a two-year investigation, Rwanda accused 33 French political and military officials, including former Prime Minister Dominic de Villepin and the late President Francois Mitterand, of playing an active role in the Rwandan genocide.

France dismissed the accusation as “unacceptable.”

In 2014, the case was closed as French judges countered the earlier report that blamed Rwandan officers for the assassination.

However, media reports last week said French investigators want to reopen the case and question Rwandan dissidents, including Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa who served as the chief of army staff between 1994 and 2004, and is now living in exile in South Africa.

“If starting all over again is a showdown, then we will have a showdown,” Kagame said at the opening of the 2016/17 new judicial year.

“After investigating the case for two years, not finding anything, they want to start all over again. I have no problem with that. I have to remind some people that the judicial system of Rwanda is not subordinate to France or French interests,” Kagame said.

“France should be the one being tried for the genocide, not anybody in Rwanda and not Rwandans,” he added.

Kagame suggested the French embassy in Kigali be closed again.

When the French embassy in Kigali was closed in 2006, those seeking French visas in Kigali acquired them through embassies which offered the service on behalf of France.

Those embassies that delivered services on behalf of the French embassy should prepare to do that again, he said.

On April 6, 1994, a French-crewed plane carrying Habyarimana was shot down by a missile. His assassination ignited ethnic tensions and helped spark the Rwandan genocide in which about 1 million people were killed in 100 days.

Source: Xinhua