France denies it aided Rwandan genocide

FRANCE yesterday accused Rwanda of making “unacceptable accusations” by alleging Paris played an active role in the 1994 genocide, but said it was still determined to mend damaged ties with Kigali.

A 500-page report released on Tuesday in the Rwandan capital alleged France was aware of preparations for the genocide, and that the French military in Rwanda contributed to planning the massacres and actively took part in the killing.

It names 13 senior politicians and 20 military officials as responsible, raising the prospect of Rwandan legal action against them.

“This report contains unacceptable accusations made against French political and military officials,” French foreign ministry spokesman, Romain Nadal, told reporters.

He cast doubt on the “objectivity” of the Rwandan commission that produced the report, which was explicitly asked to “gather evidence showing the implication of the French state in the genocide carried out in Rwanda in 1994”. Nadal added France had not received the report through “official channels”.

Initially on Tuesday, the French government had refused to comment on the report, before referring reporters to a general statement of policy from February 2007.

Yesterday, the French foreign ministry suggested France would not let the report further sour relations between Paris and Kigali, which severed diplomatic ties in November 2006 over the question of responsibility for the genocide.

Nadal highlighted a meeting in December between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame, and a visit to Kigali by Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner as steps towards warming ties.

Rwandan Foreign Minister Rosemary Museminali told a press conference on Tuesday the report should not undermine diplomatic ties with France.

But the Rwandan government reaffirmed yesterday it hoped legal proceedings would be opened against those accused in the report.

The Rwandan association of genocide survivors, IBUKA, urged France to prosecute those accused.

The 100-day killing spree in the central African nation left about 800,000 people dead, mainly minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus, the UN has said.

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