AFRICANGLOBE – Rwanda plans to ask French authorities to allow Kigali investigators to interrogate senior French officers and politicians in connection with the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi minority.
Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said Kigali is no longer interested in mending relations with its former European ally and will not tolerate what she described as “judicial harassment” from France.
The new development is likely to escalate further the deteriorating diplomatic ties between the two countries, which are divided by differing narratives on the 1994 genocide.
The latest differences were triggered by revelation that French authorities were interested in revisiting the shooting down of an aeroplane carrying former Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana.
Played A Role
Ms Mushikiwabo reiterated that France’s involvement in the 1994 genocide is explicit and that Kigali is interested in pursuing French officials who allegedly played a role.
“It is not a secret. France had a level of support to a government that killed a million of its people. It has been documented widely both in France and Rwanda and in other parts of the world.”
“If there is a country beyond Rwanda that was aware and was active in the preparation of the genocide back in the 1990s, it was France. France had political advisors to the genocidal government; France had military advisors and trainers for both the army and the militias that committed the genocide,” Ms Mushikiwabo said.
She said that France had attached officers to the intelligence system of the then government, and that Rwanda has names of individuals and politicians that it is interested in pursuing.
“There are names, there are faces, this is not something that is fabricated. It is information that is out there and we believe as a country that perhaps our willingness to rebuild the relationship has been not appreciated by France and perhaps seen as a sign of weakness. It is not,” Ms Mushikiwabo said.
“We will use our own means to conduct professional investigations. We will use the information we have. We will request France to allow our investigators to have access to particular individuals, politicians, officers, and let’s see what happens,” she added.
A Plane Crash
She accused France of “clutching” on to the plane crash and using it against Rwanda, using it to claim that it triggered the genocide.
“The genocide in Rwanda was not caused by a plane crash. The genocide was premeditated, it was planned, it was just waiting for a signal to get started. We as a country believe that we need to put out in the open all the important information clearly implicating various French officials, the military, the politicians, the intelligence, different individuals that have played a role in the genocide in this country,” Ms Mushikiwabo said.
She said that the plane crash that claimed the life of Habyarimana is a political narrative being used against Rwanda.
Currently France has no Ambassador in Rwanda, after Kigali rejected a designated ambassador it says is biased but the embassy remains open, while the Rwandan Embassy in Paris is fully operational.
By: Edmund Kagire