Specter of Genocide Still Hangs Over France-Rwanda Relations

Specter of Genocide Still Hangs Over France-Rwanda Relations

The 20th anniversary of Rwanda’s 1994 genocide this month was marked by the re-emergence of tensions between France and Rwanda, after Rwandan President Paul Kagame claimed that France bore some responsibility for the genocide.* In an email interview, Bruno Charbonneau, associate professor of political science at Laurentian University and the director of the Center for Peace and Humanitarian Missions Studies at Universite du Quebec a Montreal, Canada, explained the continuing tensions in France-Rwanda ties.

WPR: To what extent have France and Rwanda succeeded at repairing ties in the past few years?

Bruno Charbonneau: The two sides were talking, but the relationship was always sensitive and prone to diplomatic tension. There has not been much substance to the relationship, except perhaps for the occasional cooperation—or tense negotiation—on issues of mutual interest, like the extradition or judgment of those accused of committing genocide in Rwanda, the fact that Rwanda is now a nonpermanent member of the U.N. Security Council, ad hoc responses to African crises—as with the Central African Republic, where Rwanda deployed military troops—and so on. But the specter of the genocide never went away.

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