KIGALI - The Minister of Defence, Gen. James Kabarebe, yesterday met the French Ambassador to Rwanda, Laurent Contini, and held discussions on military cooperation between the two countries.
Contini had paid a courtesy call on Kabarebe to brief him on the appointment of a French Military Attaché who is scheduled to arrive next month.
Speaking to the press shortly after the meeting, the French Ambassador said that he had paid a courtesy call on the minister to inform him of the new development in the relations as well as the forthcoming visit by a team led by investigative magistrate, Mark Trevidic, to investigate into charges instituted by the French Judge Louis Bruguière.
“I paid a courtesy call on the Minister first of all to pass my regards and also discuss two subjects; one being the nomination of a military attaché to Rwanda. The candidate is a Lieutenant Colonel from the Air Force,” Contini said.
“The second issue was to inform him about a team of experts headed by Tredivic which will come to Rwanda in September to sign an agreement with Rwanda to carry out independent investigations into the allegations by Judge Brugueire, a development which the Rwandan government welcomed.”
The French envoy added that Rwanda and France had agreed to begin a new chapter of clean joint investigations into the accusations, disregarding Brugueire’s findings or allegations.
The team will also include experts in ballistics to study the missile attack on the plane carrying former President Juvenal Habyarimana, which Bruguiere blamed on some senior Rwandan officials.
According to Contini, the new investigations are not meant to back up Brugueire’s allegations, but form a new basis of understanding and clearing the air.
According to the Defence spokesperson Lt. Col Jill Rutaremara, the Minister of Defence welcomed the new development and said that it will form a new understanding of issues different from Brugueire’s allegations.
“This will be a different approach to issues than what Brugueire used to do. He would sit in France and come up with baseless accusations. The problem we had was how Brugueire carried out his investigations, but not that anyone was scared,” Rutaremara said.
“They asked for permission to come and carry out investigations and the government of Rwanda thought it was OK for them to come and find out and know that what was being said was false and the accusations are empty”.
Rutaremara added that Rwanda welcomed the new development by France to appoint a Military attaché to Rwanda, adding that it is a sign of improving relations between the two countries.
Rwanda and France severed relations after Brugueire issued arrest warrants against 40 RPF officials accusing them of downing the plane in which Habyarimana was killed. However, in November 2009, the two countries restored diplomatic relations.
The subsequent re-appointment of Ambassadors to both capitals was followed by a visit to Rwanda by French President Nicholas Sarkozy in February this year and later, President Paul Kagame attended the France-Africa Summit in Nice.