Rwanda: March 16, 2004


Rwandan President Kagame accused France of direct responsibility for the 1994 genocide of at least 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus by supplying weapons, logistical support and even senior military planners to the ethnic Hutu regime. Diplomats and witnesses have often accused France of tacit involvement, but Kagame's comments are the most explicit to date. 

Last week, the government denounced a French police report accusing Kagame of launching the April 1994 rocket attack that downed the plane carrying then president, Juvenal Habyarimana. The police report was compiled by a French judge on behalf of the French aircrew who died in the plane. All of the work was done in France, with no interviews taken in Rwanda. Kagame claims the police report was a politically motivated attempt to deflect blame from France.

The Rwandans are about to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the genocide. President Habyarimana's death sparked 100 days of genocide and the prevailing educated theory has been that militant Hutus shot down the plane, as a deliberate pretext for wholesale slaughter.

In the early 1990s, there were reports that French peacekeepers appeared to side with the Hutu government against the Tutsi-based Rwandan Patriotic Front (then led by Kagame). French troops moved United Nations peacekeepers away from a college where they were protecting 2,000 Tutsis and Hutus subsequently moved in to slaughter these Tutsis. In 1990, the RPF had been responsible for an armed incursion into Rwanda from exile. - Adam Geibel


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