French president seeks to clarify France role in Rwanda’s genocide

Rwandan President Paul Kagame and French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France on May 23, 2018. Macron has presented himself as the representative of a new generation of politician unafraid to shine a light on France’s past. PHOTO | URUGWIRO

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday launched a bid to end a two-decade dispute with Rwanda over its 1994 genocide by appointing experts to shed light on the murky subject of France’s actions in the country during the massacres.

In a major development marking the 25th anniversary of the genocide, in which over 800,000 mostly Tutsi people were slaughtered, the French leader announced the creation of a commission of historians and researchers that will delve into the state’s archives.

The eight-strong team “will be tasked with consulting all France’s archives relating to the genocide… in order to analyse the role and engagement of France during that period,” the presidency said.

Friday’s announcement was timed to coincide with a meeting between Macron and the Ibuka association of genocide survivors, the first such encounter with a French president.

It comes a little over six months after Macron threw open the archives on another controversial chapter in French history relating to the 1954-1962 independence war with former colony Algeria.

Their findings will be used in material used to teach children in France about the genocide, the presidency added.

The moves aim to definitively turn the page on quarter of a century of acrimony and mutual recrimination between France and Rwanda.