French President Emmanuel Macron stated in a crucial address on his visit to Rwanda that he realizes that France is responsible for the 1994 genocide in the Central African nation.
Macron explained seriously how France had failed the 800,000 genocide victims, but he stopped short of an apology.
France “was not an accomplice,” claimed the French leader in his speech at the genocide commemoration in the capital city, Kigali on Thursday, but ended up siding with Rwanda’s “genocidal regime” and held “the overwhelming responsibility” for the slide to the killings.
“France has a role in Rwanda, which is a historical and political responsibility. It has a duty: to look at history in the face and recognize the misery caused by the people of Rwanda by favoring silence for too long,” added Macron.
When the genocide began, “the international community waited almost three months, three endless months to respond and we all abandoned hundreds of thousands of victims.”
The shortcomings of France led to the “27 years’ painful gap” between the two nations, he added.
“I’ve come to acknowledge our responsibilities,” stated Macron.
Although Macron did not apologize, he was commended by Paul Kagame of Rwanda for his “powerful speech.”
“His remarks were something more than an apology, they were the truth,” stated Kagame. “It was a remarkable act of bravery.”
Both Kagame and Macron said that a page had been turned in the France-Rwanda relationship.
Kagame said, “This visit is about the future, not the past,” adding that he and Macron have been discussing a number of subjects, including investment and business assistance.
Macron claimed they opened a “new page.”
Macron seemed to clarify his lack of apologies and stated, “There is no justification for genocide, you live with it.”
Macron stated he had traveled to Rwanda with 100,000 coronavirus vaccinations.
Early Thursday, Macron landed in Kigali and visited Kagame at the presidential house.
President Emmanuel then saw the monument of the frenzied carnage in 1994, during which Hutu extremists murdered mostly Tutsi minorities and Hutus, who sought to defend them.
Macron’s visit is based on a number of French initiatives aimed at repairing ties between the two countries since his election in 2017.
In March and April, two reports examining the role of France in the genocide helped to smooth the way for a visit by Macron, the first to be carried out by a French President in 11 years.
Nicolas Sarkozy’s earlier visit in 2010, was the first one by a French leader following the 1994 massacre. The government of Rwanda and survivors of genocide groups have long accused France of training and equipping militia and former government forces leading the massacre.
Kagame, who has been the de facto leader of Rwanda since 1994 and its president since 2000, garnered international accolades for restoring order and for advancing economic growth and health care. But Kagame is accused of harsh governance by right-watchers, dissidents, and others.