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what to remember from the report which points to the “undeniable responsibility” of France

“The bankruptcy of France.” In a report submitted to the President of the Republic on Friday March 26, French researchers emphasize the “heavy and overwhelming responsibilities” of France in the genocide of the Tutsis by the Hutus in Rwanda in 1994. Franceinfo takes stock of what to remember from the work of this commission chaired by historian Vincent Duclert.

The French state has remained “blind”

The Duclert report was commissioned by Emmanuel Macron in 2019. He concludes that “an undeniable responsibility” of France in the Rwandan genocide, which left at least 800,000 dead according to the UN. The commission, made up of 14 historians, reveals that France, involved in Rwanda since its independence from Belgium in 1962, “remained blind to the preparation” of the massacre.

The document of more than 1,000 pages, the result of two years of archival analysis, highlights “the bankruptcy of France”. In question, the country’s support for diet “racist, corrupt and violent” of the Hutu President Juvénal Habyarimana, during the civil war which opposed from 1990 to 1993 the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) to the Rwandan State and led to the genocide of the Tutsis from April to July 1994.

“France [a rejeté] any dialogue with the Tutsi exiled in Uganda as well as all the Hutu opposition and the Rwandan Patriotic Front, explains historian Vincent Duclert to franceinfo. And so his policy [a ravivé] inter-ethnic tensions and, in a way, [renforcé] the possibilities of genocide. ”

The committee also considers that France has “reacted late” with the military-humanitarian operation Turquoise, launched in June 1994. If this, explains the report, “saved many lives”, she did not save “the vast majority of Tutsis in Rwanda exterminated in the first weeks of the genocide”.

François Mitterrand ignored the alerts

The report’s findings note that “alignment” from France “on Rwandan power comes from a will of the Head of State and the Presidency of the Republic”. “François Mitterrand decided on this policy”, abstract Vincent Duclert. The former socialist president “Wished absolutely to ensure the safety of the Rwandan president to whom he was close”.

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The authors of the report describe an African policy decided solely by the former head of state and motivated by “ideological constructions”. The president and his inner circle have thus ignored the warnings, whether they come from the French military attaché in Kigali, diplomats, the intelligence services or even NGOs.

A version of the facts confirmed by the former minister Bernard Kouchner, who went to Rwanda during the genocide.

“The people at the Elysee Palace didn’t want to see anything. They had all the means to find out what was going on. They didn’t.”

Bernard Kouchner

to the AFP

According to the report, it is in particular this relationship between François Mitterrand and Juvenal Habyarimana who 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 Armed Forces” government.

France was “in no way” an accomplice

If the accusations against France are strong, historians judge while “nothing comes to demonstrate” that the country has surrendered “partner in crime” genocide, despite denunciations from the Rwandan government. “EShe has in no way the intentional complicity of the genocidal enterprise, assure Vincent Duclert. None of the documents show it. “

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This conclusion was greeted by Hubert Védrine, Secretary General of the French Presidency at the time of the genocide. “The most important thing is that the report rules out any complicity from France, he explained to AFP, while regretting the criticisms “numerous and severe”, in particular against François Mitterrand.

The lack of French complicity is far from unanimous. “The French policy that has been carried out is an accomplice in genocide, in the precise sense of ‘active support’, knowingly”, explained to the World the research director at CNRS, François Graner, who had access to the French military archives, but was not part of the commission.

This report paves the way for reconciliation

Relations between the two countries remain explosive, even if they have relaxed since Emmanuel Macron came to power in 2017. In “sign of goodwill”, explains RFI, the report was handed over to the Rwandan authorities. “We hope this time that the process of rapprochement with Rwanda can be started irreversibly”, according to a source within the Elysee of the radio.

In a statement, Emmanuel Macron called the report “of considerable progress” to understand the French commitment to Rwanda. The Rwandan government has welcomed “an important step towards a common understanding of the role of France”.

But Kigali does not intend to be satisfied with the Duclert report. The Rwandan Foreign Ministry announced on Twitter on Friday the forthcoming publication of a report on the same subject. He will come, according to the authorities, “enrich and complete” the conclusions of the French commission.

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