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French ambassador barred from attending events marking anniversary of genocide in Rwanda

April 07, 2014, 12:54 UTC+3
The latest strain in the relations between Paris and Kigali was caused by controversial statements made by Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who accused France of having a direct role in the “political preparation for the genocide”
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 Paul Kagame

Paul Kagame

©  EPA/MARY ALTAFFER / POOL

PARIS, April 07. /ITAR-TASS/. France has been barred from attending events marking the 20th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, French Ambassador to Rwanda Michelle Flesch told Agence France-Presse. Flesch was supposed to represent France at the commemorative ceremonies.

Initially, it was planned that Justice Minister Christiane Taubira would head the French delegation to the anniversary events. However, on Saturday, a spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry Romain Nadal announced the cancellation of the visit due to deterioration in relations between Paris and Kigali in the framework of ambiguous statements made by Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame.

Last week, an interview with Kagame was published in Jeune Afrique magazine, stirring up great controversy. The Rwandan president told journalists that both France and Belgium had a direct role in the “political preparation for the genocide.”

Kagame also said that French forces stationed in Rwanda under the auspices of UN were directly involved in the slaughter of people. The statement caused a new strain in the relations between Paris and Kigali, which have had different accounts of the 1994 events.

The diplomatic relations between the two countries had been temporarily suspended from 2006 to 2009. In 2010, under French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the countries managed to find a compromise.

The French Foreign Ministry spokesman said that the statements by Paul Kagame were in contradiction with the process of dialogue and reconciliation that had been launched several years ago.

On April 7, Rwanda marks the 20th anniversary of the worst genocide of the end of the XX century. Over the course of 100 days, an estimated 800,000-1,000,000 people Rwandans were killed in the standoff between the Hutus and Tutsis. The majority of those killed were Tutsis. In 2004, the UN declared April 7 as the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda.

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