This week, Alain Juppe was appointed, France’s Foreign Affairs Minister, to the surprise of many considering his role in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.
Between 1993-1995, Juppe held the same position and according to the findings of the Mucyo Commission – which investigated the role of the French government in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi he, along with several other French government officials at the time, actively supported the forces that committed the Genocide.
Rwanda and France have had sour relations owing to this role played by the France in the Genocide. However, over the last two years, the Presidents of both countries have worked to restore the relations.
While France played a role in Rwanda’s dark days, the commitment of the new leadership, as demonstrated by President Sarkozy, gave hope that relations would be restored, despite complicated issues that are yet to be sorted out.
The appointment of Juppe is, without doubt, shocking to Rwanda. His record during the dark days and in the events that followed, including his negative reactions to the normalization of Franco-Rwanda relations is well documented.
To ensure that the restored relations are maintained and improved further, Mr Juppe, will have a lot to do, ensuring that he builds on his predecessors progress - France was in the process of creating a specialized unit to bring to justice perpetrators of the genocide, something his predecessors had championed.
The concerns over his appointment are legitimate, and he should bear the responsibility to address them. There is no doubt, Rwanda is interested in moving forward.