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World

Macron in Rwanda to turn page on post-genocide tensions

  • The president tweeted that as his flight took off for Kigali, he felt "a deep conviction: over the coming hours, together we will write a new chapter in our relations with Rwanda and Africa".
27 May 2021

KIGALI: French President Emmanuel Macron arrives in Rwanda on Thursday for a highly symbolic visit aimed at moving on from three decades of diplomatic tensions over France's role in the 1994 genocide in the country.

Macron is the first French leader since 2010 to visit the East African nation, which has long accused France of complicity in the killing of some 800,000 mostly Tutsi Rwandans.

The key moment of the visit will come when Macron gives a speech Thursday morning at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, where some 250,000 victims of the massacres are buried.

Some in Rwanda will be hoping for an official apology that France failed to help stop the killing spree between April and July 1994.

"It would be a very good thing if Emmanuel Macron apologises," said Freddy Mutanguha, director of the Aegis Trust NGO which runs the Kigali memorial.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has played down the importance of the issue, saying any apology on the matter had to be spontaneous.

Whatever the exact formulation of his words will be, Macron is expected to go further than his predecessors.

The president tweeted that as his flight took off for Kigali, he felt "a deep conviction: over the coming hours, together we will write a new chapter in our relations with Rwanda and Africa".

"The president's willingness to examine our history, our past, directly and transparently, is the best way to move forward," said French government spokesman Gabriel Attal.

In 2010 Nicolas Sarkozy attempted to break the ice by admitting to "serious mistakes" and a "form of blindness" on the part of the French during the genocide.

His remarks fell short of expectations in Rwanda, and bilateral relations continued to fester.