France Had Key Role in Enabling Rwanda Genocide, Report Says


France bears significant responsibility for Rwanda’s 1994 genocide as it helped facilitate the massacre of more than 800,000 people by former President Juvenal Habyarimana’s regime, according to a report commissioned by the East African nation’s government.

French officials armed, advised, trained and protected the Rwandan government in the 100-day mass atrocity from which the nation is still trying to recover, according to the report by law firm Levy Firestone Muse LLP. It found former President Francois Mitterrand “chiefly responsible” for his government’s actions in the four years leading to the killings.

“He and his administration knew that the government in Rwanda was orchestrating, fomenting and exploiting violence against the Tutsi minority for its own ends,” according to the report. “For many years, the French government supported the corrupt and murderous regime” of Habyarimana, it said.

The French military advised Rwanda’s ethnic Hutu-dominated government in the early 1990s as it fought a war against mainly Tutsi rebels based in neighboring Uganda. While Rwanda was colonized by Belgium, successive French governments maintained close links because its Hutu leadership was mostly francophone, while Tutsi leaders in exile in Uganda mostly spoke English.

A panel created by President Emmanuel Macron two years ago to study France’s role in the genocide absolved the French government last month of any complicity in the slaughter, but found that the country’s colonial attitude had impeded its judgment in the build up to the killings.

Macron’s aide didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment on Tuesday.

An official in Macron’s office said on Monday that the French and Rwandan governments were willing to work together to build trust. Rwandan President Paul Kagame may participate in a Paris summit on funding African economies on May 18. Macron has also said he plans to travel to Rwanda this year if the health situation allows it.

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