Rwanda, France ties on the mend

Kagame, French foreign minister hold talks KIGALI - President Paul Kagame has said that a mechanism is in the offing to work out the restoration of diplomatic ties between Rwanda and France. He disclosed this on Saturday evening during a joint press conference with the French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner at Village Urugwiro. Rwanda severed diplomatic ties with France in November 2006 following indictments that were issued by French judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere to nine Rwandan senior government officials, most of them military officers.
President Kagame and Kouchner address the press after their meeting on Saturday at Village Urugwiro. (PPU Photo)
President Kagame and Kouchner address the press after their meeting on Saturday at Village Urugwiro. (PPU Photo)

KIGALI - President Paul Kagame has said that a mechanism is in the offing to work out the restoration of diplomatic ties between Rwanda and France. He disclosed this on Saturday evening during a joint press conference with the French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner at Village Urugwiro. Rwanda severed diplomatic ties with France in November 2006 following indictments that were issued by French judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere to nine Rwandan senior government officials, most of them military officers.

Kagame said that he was pleased with the talks held, in which mutual desire to clear obstacles standing in the way of good relationship between Rwanda and France was  expressed.

Kouchner’s visit comes as a follow-up on the previous meeting in December last year between President Kagame and his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy in Lisbon on the sidelines of the EU/Africa Summit.

“We are looking forward and we want to get rid of the obstacles based on the mistakes of the past, to pave way for the future,” Kagame told a news conference.

The President added that a process was already underway to review the pending issues in an open and frank manner, in order to establish normal relations between the two countries.

Asked on the alleged French role in the 1994 Rwanda Genocide, Kouchner said that he has his personal views which he said should be separated from political and judicial ones, but he did not elaborate.

France has vehemently denied having had a role in the 1994 Genocide despite various testimonies that were heard by an independent commission established to adduce evidence on the role they played in the Genocide.

However, Kouchner  said that France bore no “military responsibility” but did commit a “political fault” by failing to understand what was happening.

He said: “It was certainly a political fault. We didn’t understand what happened. But there was no military responsibility.”

As co-founder of Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), Kouchner went to Rwanda several times during the Genocide to help organise humanitarian corridors.
“As I was there, I remember very well,” he said.

“I have never attacked the French army and I would never do so because [the genocide] was not its responsibility.”

Kagame said that they also discussed the issue of regional security.

Kouchner said that the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has to do the needful to have the security restored.

“If we are asked for help in any way we are ready to do that but the Congolese government has to do this…I think the Rwandan government has played its role especially by calling upon Rwandans in exile to come home,” he said.

Kouchner, who flew into the country from the DRC, left on the same night for Burkina Faso.
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