Macron urged to admit France’s role in Rwanda genocide

Saturday May 20 2017

French President Emmanuel Macron. PHOTO | AFP

French President Emmanuel Macron. PHOTO | AFP 

By Robert Mbaraga

Newly-elected President of France, Emmanuel Macron, has been urged to acknowledge France’s role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda and support the prosecution of persons suspected of having participated in these atrocities who freely live in that country.

A French NGO, Collectif des Parties Civiles pour le Rwanda (CPCR), wrote to him urging him to depart from his predecessors’ stance who “never wanted to acknowledge the slightest responsibility of the politicians of the time in the commission of this genocide.”

“We are continuing to denounce the military, diplomatic and financial complicity of France in 1994,” wrote Alain Gauthier the chairperson of the CPCR.

Banking on President Macron’s moderate foreign policy towards Africa and his campaign promise to forge a new relationship with the continent, the CPCR asked the new head of state “to re-establish diplomatic relations especially with Rwanda."

Diplomatic relations between the two countries have cooled in the past two decades, especially after Rwanda accused France of complicity in the genocide.

President Macron is yet to say anything specific about Rwanda. On the other hand, in an interview with Jeune Afrique last week, President Paul Kagame said that France’s attitude towards Rwanda would not change as long as France’s attitude towards the whole of Africa does not change, emphasising that the two are related.

“We expect something new from President Macron, a new dynamic and real break from decades of confusion,” said President Kagame.

President Macron, 39, is the youngest president voted in France and he has vowed to rebuild his country’s “relationship with Africa” to create a new balanced partnership of trust and growth.

“It is by assuming the truth about our common history that we can look to the future with confidence,” President Macron told the media while campaigning.

Prosecute fugitives living in France

CPCR, which since 2001 has championed the prosecution of genocide fugitives living in France, wants assurances from the new head of state that all fugitives allegedly living in France will be brought before French courts or extradited to Rwanda.

“Do you agree with the decision of the Court of Cassation, which systematically refuses to extradite Rwandans to their country and who are suspected of having participated in the Tutsi genocide? What measures would you take to ensure that the slowness of French justice in these cases ceases?” the CPCR asked the president in the letter.

According to CPCR, since 1994, about 30 complaints have been filed in France for genocide and crimes against humanity, including 25 by the SCRC, but only three have been tried.

These include the trial and sentencing of Captain Simbikangwa to 25 years imprisonment, a sentence confirmed in appeal and that of two former Rwandan mayors, Tito Barahira and Octavien Ngenzi, who were convicted to life imprisonment in July. The two appealed, and their case is pending hearing.

Last year, Rwanda also opened investigations into the alleged role of 20 French government and military officials in the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda 23 years ago. The country’s public prosecution submitted a list of the suspects to French authorities requesting their co-operation but no formal investigation has started yet.