‘Rwandans Want an Apology from Paris’: An Interview with Paul Kagame

‘Rwandans Want an Apology from Paris’: An Interview with Paul Kagame

Rwandan President Paul Kagame came to power following the 1994 genocide in his country. Before that, starting in 1990, he was the leader of the Tutsi rebel force, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR). Accusing Paris of being "implicated in the genocide," he has no intention of conceding in a confrontation that, according to him, began more than twelve years ago. Last November, Kigali broke off diplomatic relations with Paris after the French investigative judge Jean-Louis Bruguière recommended that the Rwandan President be tried for his "presumptive participation" in the shooting down of the jet of his predecessor, Juvénal Habyarimana. The April 6, 1994, attack against Habyarimana occurred shortly before the start of the genocide. Patrick de Saint-Exupéry of the French daily Le Figaro spoke with President Kagame in Kigali.

PATRICK DE SAINT-EXUPÉRY: Why did you break off diplomatic relations with Paris?

PAUL KAGAME: Our relations with Paris have not been good for many years now. It goes back to the period when the French government supported the Habyarimana government, which was responsible for the genocide. When we came to power, Paris started creating numerous obstacles. We made an effort to build a normal relationship, but without success. Other African countries and the former French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier also tried. But as the discussions went along, we came to realize that those from whom the bulk of the concessions were being asked were the victims. And then in 2004, there was the publication in a French newspaper of an investigation by Judge Bruguière into the April 1994 attack. From that moment on, it was clear that Bruguière wanted to implicate the Rwandan Patriotic Front. With the latest incident [the issuing of nine arrest warrants against Rwandan government officials - P.S-E.], it has become obvious that the investigation is not simply a matter of a judge doing his work. As far as we are concerned, the French government is behind the judge.

Did Judge Bruguière ask to visit Rwanda?

He never asked us for anything. He did not even try. He should have.

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