FOREIGN RELATIONS - The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Charles Murigande, has expressed optimism about the on-going talks between Rwanda and France aimed at restoring diplomatic relations severed last year.
Murigande said yesterday that the fact that both countries are members of the UN whose charter obliges all member states to live in harmony may necessitate the restoration of bilateral relations.
“We have good reasons to believe that these talks will yield. And some of the reasons is our being members of the UN,” he said yesterday.
Rwanda severed diplomatic ties with France last November after controversial French magistrate Jean Louis Bruguiere issued arrest warrants for senior Rwandan leaders over the death former president Juvenal Habyarimana.
Following the warrants, Lt. Gen. Charles Kayonga and Brig. Gen. Jack Nziza who are among those whose warrants were issued, petitioned a Belgian court demanding that arrest warrants be quashed and disregarded with damages.
France’s Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner recently announced that he would soon come to Rwanda in an effort to normalise the relations.
Last Thursday, Murigande and Kouchner held talks on the sidelines of the UN 62nd General Assembly in New York, US.
“His visit is still standing, we are working on a date that is mutually convenient for both countries so that he can come,” Murigande said.
Asked whether he would be visiting France soon, Murigande said there are no immediate plans but hastened to add that there is nothing that can prevent him from traveling to Paris.
France has for long been accused of having both directly and indirectly participated in the 1994 Genocide in which over a million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed.
Several testimonies so far heard by the independent Mucyo Commission set up to adduce evidence on France’s role in the Genocide, and all the people who testified say they saw French officers participating in the Genocide.
Among the people who have testified were French nationals.
The French are accused of having committed atrocities especially in the western and southern part of the country where Operation Turquoise, a French military operation was based.
This operation, according to some of the witnesses who were mostly foreign journalists, was not humanitarian as it was meant to be, it instead to reinforce militias.
However, the Mucyo Commission (named after Jean de Dieu Mucyo who heads it), which is set to close shop this month, has not published its findings.