President Emmanuel Macron has ordered an investigation into the role of the French army in the Rwandan genocide that is still a source of tension between Paris and Kigali, 25 years later.
“The goal is to deliver a report which will be published in two years time ... and will be accessible to all. It will scientifically evaluate, on the basis of archives, the role that France played in Rwanda from 1990 to 1994,” representative of the French presidency stated following a meeting held by Macron and members of an association which supports survivors of the incident.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame has long accused Paris of being complicit in the genocide in which Hutu militias reportedly killed some 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
While Paris copped to missteps in interactions with Rwanda, accusations that France trained militias to take part in the massacre were repeatedly dismissed.
Contrastingly, during a visit to Rwanda, in 2010, then-President Nicolas Sarkozy acknowledged that France made “a serious error of judgment, a sort of blindness when we didn’t foresee the genocidal dimensions of the government.”
French authorities say the Macron-appointed nine-member commission will have access to presidential, diplomatic, military and intelligence archives, the presidency confirmed Friday.
Though Macron’s predecessor François Hollande declassified presidential archives on the subject, in 2015, researchers have long complained that only a fraction of the documents have been accessible.
France’s announcement of the commission comes against the backdrop of commemorations marking 25 years since the genocide.
Macron will not attend commemoration events Sunday but will be represented by Herve Berville, a Tutsi survivor of the genocide, who is a member of the French parliament representing Macron’s ruling party.
In 2006, Both countries broke off diplomatic ties after a Paris judge accused Kagame and nine aides of shooting down former President Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane in April 1994.
However, the countries restored diplomatic ties in November 2009 and Kigame urged Paris to pursue individuals responsible for the Rwandan genocide.
French high schools will begin teaching the Rwandan genocide from September 2020.