KIGALI - The announcement by government Sunday that Rwanda is set to restore relations with France has been received with mixed reactions, with many, particularly the diplomatic corps, welcoming the development.
The government announced the decision to reinstate relations with France after Presidents Paul Kagame and Nicolas Sarkozy spoke on phone Sunday and agreed to start the process of normalizing ties.
It says this has been the finale of prior extensive consultations between the two governments, at different levels, and Rwanda emphasized willingness “to working out in due course all outstanding issues based on mutual understanding.”
A seemingly ecstatic Ivo Goemans, the Belgian ambassador in Kigali, told The New Times that Belgium, being a European country, was pleased and would “welcome our French colleagues when they come to reopen their embassy in Kigali.”
“It is very good news, but we are waiting for details of course, especially on how the crucial problem (indictments by a French Judge) will be resolved. The judicial problem is the most important – it was the origin of the breakup.
“This also concerns the other EU countries and we are really eager to know about it,” Goemans said.
German Ambassador, Elmar Timpe, also welcomed Sunday’s revelation, saying it is “a very good step and very good news” for both countries.
“I think that each and every one in the international community and in Europe is very pleased by this step – and that there will be progress made in order to improve relations. We can only congratulate them,” Ambassador Timpe said.
However, Theodore Simburudali, the head of the genocide survivors’ organization, Ibuka , seemed not entirely moved by the development largely due to France’s role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
“We don’t make these decisions – it is the government of Rwanda that decides who to have relations with as well as with whom not to have relations with,” Simburudali said.
“It is okay as long as it doesn’t diminish France’s responsibility – the role they played in the killing of the Tutsi during the Genocide in this country.”
Since the election of President Sarkozy, Paris says the country has made efforts to turn the page and normalize relations with Rwanda. Presidents Kagame and Sarkozy have met twice since the breakup.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has travelled to Kigali twice, and Rwandan and French officials have held several discussions in an effort to find a common ground.