Kagame Welcomes France 'change' On Rwanda As Archives Opened
Paris, April 7 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 7th Apr, 2021 ) :Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Wednesday signalled he was ready for a new phase in ties with France after a landmark report acknowledged French responsibility over the 1994 genocide, as Paris ordered the opening of key archives.
The report, handed by French historians to President Emmanuel Macron last month, "marks an important step toward a common understanding of what took place," Kagame said in Kigali.
"It also marks the change, it shows the desire, even for leaders in France, to move forward with a good understanding of what happened," said Kagame in his first reaction to the report.
The archives to be opened by France concern the work of former president Francois Mitterrand between 1990 and 1994 when the genocide began, according to a statement by the French presidency.
Also to be opened are those of the prime minister at the time, Edouard Balladur, in accordance with his own wishes, it added.
Many of the documents -- which include diplomatic telegrams and confidential notes -- were sources for the long-awaited report by historians handed to Macron.
All the documents cited in the report will also be declassified and made public, the presidency said.
The commission concluded that France bears overwhelming responsibilities over the genocide and was "blind" to preparations for the massacres.
Macron ordered the report after years of accusations France did not do enough to halt the massacres and was even complicit in the crimes.
The genocide between April and July 1994 began after Rwanda's Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana, with whom Paris had cultivated close ties, was killed when his plane was shot down over Kigali on April 6.
France had been "involved with a regime that encouraged racist massacres," although there was no evidence that it had any "willingness" to join in the genocide itself.
Kagame said a parallel investigation carried out by Rwandan authorities would release its own findings this month, saying the conclusions "go in the same direction" as the French report.
But he criticised "the decades-long effort by certain French officials to cover up their responsibilities", saying it had caused "significant damage".
"The important thing is to continue working together to document the truth," Kagame said.
- 'Half measures' no use - The historian Vincent Duclert who chaired the historial commission told the Mediapart news site that he believed France now needed to apologise for its policies in Rwanda, which were characterised by "great violence and a very colonialist superiority".
Welcoming the Duclert report, the French foreign minister at the time, Alain Juppe, acknowledged it had highlighted the failures of the government.
"We did not act in the way we should have done," he wrote in Le Monde, saying France had not understood that "half measures" were of no use in the face of a genocide.
"We lacked understanding of what genocide was and the need to act without delay to stop the massacres with all the determination that was possible," he said.