He stresses, however, that “nothing has shown” that Paris was “an accomplice” in the genocide which left at least 800,000 dead according to the UN between April and July 1994.
The responsibility of François Mitterrand
The document consulted by AFP before its official publication insists on the crucial responsibility of the then socialist president, François Mitterrand, in this policy. “This alignment with Rwandan power is the result of a desire by the Head of State and the Presidency of the Republic”, write the fourteen historians of the Commission, who sifted through tens of thousands of French archives for two years. François Mitterrand maintained “a strong, personal and direct relationship” with Juvénal Habyarimana, they emphasize.
This relationship, coupled with “an ethnicist reading grid” of the situation in Rwanda, justified “the delivery of considerable quantities of arms and ammunition to the Habyarimana regime, as well as the very great involvement of the French military in the training of the Rwandan “government armed forces.”
The report also denounces “the existence of irregular administrative practices, parallel chains of communication and even command, circumvention of legal procedures, acts of intimidation” in the implementation of a policy which was essentially decided at the Elysee Palace and in the circle close to François Mitterrand.
A late reaction
At the time of the genocide, France “was slow to break” with those responsible, and continued to place the threat of the RPF (Rwandan Patriotic Front, the former Tutsi rebellion which ended the genocide) at the top of its concerns “, write historians. “She reacted late” with the military-humanitarian operation Turquoise between June and August 1994, “which saved many lives, but not those of the vast majority of Tutsi in Rwanda who were exterminated in the first weeks genocide, ”they add.
Even if relations between Paris and Kigali have relaxed with the coming to power of Emmanuel Macron in 2017, the role of France in Rwanda, long accused of “complicity” in genocide by Kigali, has remained an explosive subject for more than 25 years. It is also the subject of a violent and passionate debate between researchers, academics and politicians.
The commission chaired by historian Vincent Duclert was set up in 2019 by Emmanuel Macron, who distinguished himself by his desire to develop certain sensitive memorial files.
Source site www.europe1.fr