KIGALI: Rwanda on Sunday (Monday in Manila) told France to face up to the “difficult truth” of its role in the 1994 genocide, amid a major diplomatic spat on the eve of commemorations marking the 20th anniversary of the killings.
French Justice Minister Chris–tiane Taubira pulled out of attending Monday’s events after Rwandan President Paul Kagame repeated his accusation of French “participation” in the murder of 800,000 ethnic Tutsis.
France, an ally of the Hutu nationalist government prior to the 1994 killings, said on Sunday the ambassador to Kigali would attend, effectively downgrading the delegation.
French foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said “there was never any question of a boycott of the ceremonies,” but the decision nonetheless sparked fury from Rwanda.
“For our two countries to really start getting along, we will have to face the truth, the truth is difficult, the truth of being close to anybody who is associated with genocide understandably is a very difficult truth to accept,” Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said.
Speaking to the weekly Jeune Afrique, Kagame had denounced the “direct role of Belgium and France in the political preparation for the genocide,” and said French soldiers—who had helped train the then Hutu-dominated army, as well as being accused of aiding the killers to escape—were both accomplices and “actors” in the bloodbath.