Report clears France of complicity in 1994 Rwandan Genocide

·2 min read

PARIS — A commission that spent nearly two years uncovering France’s role in 1994’s Rwandan genocide concluded Friday that the country reacted too slowly in appreciating the extent of the horror that left over 800,000 dead and bears “heavy and overwhelming responsibilities” in the drift that led to the killings.

However, the French commission cleared the country of any complicity in the slaughter that mainly targeted Rwanda’s Tutsi ethnic minority.

Persistent claims that France under then-President Francois Mitterrand did not do enough to stop the genocide have damaged the Franco-Rwandan relationship since the 1990s.

As a result, French President Emmanuel Macron ordered the 15-member commission in May 2019 to shed light on what happened in Rwanda between 1990 and 1994.

Officials in Macron’s office said the inquiry was not just about improving relations with Rwanda but with the whole African continent, since other countries also have questions about what France did at the time.

It’s unclear if this report will succeed in improving relations between France and Rwanda and satisfy in particular Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

The findings of a commission that has spent two years uncovering France’s role in 1994’s Rwandan genocide are set to be made public Friday.

There have been persistent, and so-far unsubstantiated, claims that France under then-President Francois Mitterrand did not act responsibly enough to stop the slaughter of at least 800,000 people in Rwanda. Some have also accused France, a one-time colonial power in Africa, of being complicit in the killings, which principally claimed victims from Rwanda's Tutsi ethnic minority.

Historian Vincent Duclert, the commission head, is presenting the report to President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, after which it is supposed to be published online. The commission's 12 researchers had rare archival access to sensitive diplomatic and military intelligence.

Claims of France’s role in the genocide have dogged the Franco-Rwandan relationship since the 1990’s.

As a result, Macron in May 2019 ordered the commission to shed light on what happened between 1990 and 1994 in Rwanda to potentially ease relations between the two countries.

The commission has also looked at the presidential archives of Mitterrand, who had close ties to former Ruwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, a member of the country's Hutu ethnic group.

The killings were triggered by the downing of a plane carrying Habyarimana and his Burundian counterpart Cyprien Ntaryamira on April 6, 1994.

The Associated Press