Saturday, November 13, 2004

 

France's continuing troubles in Africa

France can't catch a break, at least not when it comes to their former--and current--dealings in Africa. From Expatica — Living in, moving to, or working in France, plus French news in English comes this article on continuing blame of France for the Rwandan genicide a decade ago. This fits rather neatly with the article I just posted on the new film coming out.

Rwanda slams France for 'downplaying' genocide

KIGALI, Nov 11 (AFP) - Rwandan lawmakers are studying a bill that accuses France of "misunderstanding and downplaying" the 1994 genocide in which, according to Kigali, about one million people, mostly minority Tutsis, were killed.

The draft law paves the way for the creation of a commission to examine France's role in the 100-day killing spree that was masterminded and carried out by a Hutu government that enjoyed strong support from Paris.

The text of the bill explains that the commission will in particular look at "the role France had and continues to have in ... misunderstanding and downplaying the 1994 genocide ... by fighting the government set up after the genocide."

The bill was approved by cabinet in July but its text has only just been made public.

Rwanda's Tutsi-led government, in power since July 1994, has frequently accused Paris of having trained and armed those who carried out the genocide, who were mostly from the Hutu community that makes up 84 percent of Rwanda's population.

France has always denied any involvement in the Rwanda massacres, and a French parliamentary commission in 1998 cleared France of responsibility for the genocide while admitting to "strategic errors".

The draft law, prepared by Rwanda's justice ministry, is currently being debated in parliament's National Unity and Human Rights Committee.

France's ambassador to Rwanda, Dominique Decherf, told AFP "the time has come to look at this period dispassionately."

"Franco-Rwandan relations will not be blocked because of what happened 10 years ago. We have to move forward, and both sides agree on this," he added.

"This commission of enquiry was presented to me not as a polemical thing, but as a scientific one," said the ambassador, adding that he was ready to collaborate with the commission.

But another diplomat posted to Kigali described the commission as "very aggressive."

"In the outline of its objectives, we see very clearly in what direction the inquiry will be led. The aim is to bring France to justice. This goes against the easing of relations between the two countries over the last four months," he added.

Of all the countries accused of having played a role in the genocide, France is alone in not having apologised or asked forgiveness from the Rwandan people.

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