Kigali — Rwandan President Paul Kagame, commenting on the French president’s statements: The speech is “more important than an apology”
French President Emmanuel Macron announced today, Thursday, that he came to Rwanda to “recognize the responsibility” of his country for the genocide, asking for forgiveness and forgiveness, while Rwandan President Paul Kagame described the speech as “more important than an apology.”
Macron said in his speech at the 1994 Genocide Memorial in Kigali that France “was not complicit,” but “for a long time preferred silence over looking at the truth,” adding, “Only those who crossed the night can possibly forgive us.”
The French President delivered the speech – which was a very much anticipated one – on the occasion of an official visit to Rwanda, which was described as “the last stop in the normalization of relations” between the two countries.
The visit comes after tension that lasted more than 25 years against the background of France’s role in the genocide, which killed at least 800,000 people – most of them “Tutsis” – between April and July 1994.
I stand by your side
“I stand by your side today with humility and respect. I have come to acknowledge our responsibilities,” Macron said in a speech he gave after visiting the memorial, but indicated that France “was not complicit.”
He said, “The killers who lived in the swamps, hills and churches did not represent France. The blood that was shed was not a disgrace to the weapons nor the hands of its soldiers, who also saw with their eyes the unspeakable atrocities, bandaged wounds and suppressed their tears.”
He added that “the next day, after French officials found the clarity and courage to describe what happened with the genocide, France did not improve to draw the appropriate conclusions.”
He believed that France “has a duty to look at history without equivocation, and to acknowledge its contribution to the suffering inflicted on the Rwandan people, as it preferred for a long time silence over looking at the truth.
He said that his country “if it wanted to prevent a regional conflict or civil war, it actually stood by a regime that committed genocide, and by ignoring the warnings issued by observers with a clearer vision, it bore a heavy responsibility in the sequence of events that led to the worse, while it was specifically seeking to correct it.”
A point of contention
The question of France’s role before and during the genocide in Rwanda was a point of contention that lasted for years and led to the severing of diplomatic relations between Paris and Kigali from 2006 to 2009.
A report compiled by historians concluded that France had “grave and horrific responsibilities” and “condoned” the then socialist president, Francois Mitterrand and his environs, about the delinquency of the “Hutu” government backed at that time from Paris to racism and genocide.
The Rwandan president praised what he considered “a major step forward towards a common understanding of what happened,” adding that the Rwandans “may not forget, but they will forgive” France for its role.
The last visit of a French president to Rwanda was in 2010, and after visiting Rwanda, Macron will travel to South Africa.