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“We are reinstalling the truth” on France’s responsibility

INTERVIEW“This commission was completely new: never has a country faced with such a recent and controversial past, agreed to open everything up.” For two years, Vincent Duclert, researcher and former director of the Center for Sociological and Political Studies Raymond-Aron, chaired the Rwanda commission, which gave Emmanuel Macron a damning report on Friday. “We ran out of time but we obtained extremely important results” as regards the attitude of the French state before and during the genocide of the Tutsi, which left at least 800,000 dead in this country in 1994, explains the historian. at the microphone of Europe 1.

“François Mitterrand could have stopped all that”

It all started in 1990, when the first warning signs of the genocidal drift of the regime of Hutu President Juvénal Habyarimana appeared. “On this file, François Mitterrand [alors président de la République française, ndlr] gave voice orders to his particular chief of staff, General Quesnot, who had a deputy, General Huchon. These men transformed this staff into an operational structure. ”

Vincent Duclert describes “a very united group of men,” who “have a policy of pushing the president [rwandais, ndlr], who is a dictator, in the extremist camps, by demonizing the RPF [Le Front patriotique rwandais, créé par les Tutsis, ndlr] and therefore by reinstating a lot of ethnicism. (…) François Mitterrand could have stopped all that. ”

At the same time, “there is an effort by France to bring about peace and power-sharing agreements”, notes the historian, however. “But there is a policy which is being carried out by France, which is to support Habyarimana, and therefore to give him the means to refuse the application of this agreement.”

“We pay, even today, these indecisions”

“With the cohabitation” from March 1993 in France, “things change” with the coming to power of the right. “François Mitterrand no longer has total sovereignty over military and diplomatic affairs and Edouard Balladur [alors Premier ministre, ndlr], which is the opposite of the policy that François Mitterrand wants to lead in Africa, imposes a new course “, according to Vincent Duclert. However, France is” in the impossibility of understanding, from April 7, 1994, that it is a genocide against the Tutsi, and no interethnic massacres “.

Why ? “There was a French goodwill with Edouard Balladur, but he lacked vision and understanding of things”, according to the historian. The country “had the possibility, with operations Amaryllis and Turquoise [menées au printemps 1994 et visant respectivement à évacuer les Français et à mettre fin aux massacres, ndlr], to turn things around and say: ‘France is coming to act a genocide’. Unfortunately, this was not the case, and it is true that these indecisions are still being paid today. “

“We documented the facts, which is very important”

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Twenty-five years later, this precise chronology could only be established thanks to “a political will to open all the archives to us” and “a very strong support for research”, would like to greet Vincent Duclert once again. “We documented the facts, which is very important because we are on a subject where there are a lot of rumors, a lot of allegations.”

A major step for the future, according to the historian: “In a debate undermined, which is violent, which is full of lies and manipulations, one reinstalls the truth and it is a common discourse. One can dialogue with all the world, from the moment we are on this requirement. “

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