Franco-Rwandan rapprochement 25 years after Operation Turquoise | Africa | -

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It was 25 years ago. On June 22, 1994, the UN gave France the go-ahead for a humanitarian military operation dubbed Turquoise while massacres took place in the country. An operation still contested that will not prevent the genocide and still leaves traces today between the two countries.

As early as 1994 the Rwandan Patriotic Front assures that there are close links between the French army and the old guard of the Hutu regime. The RPF accuses Paris of wanting to save the regime and the authors of the genocide. The RPF ensures that many genocidaires escaped from the French protection zone to neighboring Zaire, the current Democratic Republic of Congo.

Recent reconciliation

The Rwandan Patriotic Front will eventually seize Kigali and power in July 1994, after the genocide. Subsequently, diplomatic relations between Paris and Kigali have deteriorated considerably. But in recent years, the two capitals have come together. French President Emmanuel Macron was invited to the opening ceremony of the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the genocide of Tutsis and Hutus this year, although finally Emmanuel Macron did not make the trip and was represented by the young French deputy of Rwandan origin, Hervé Berville.

Frankreich Präsident Emmanuel Macron and Paul Kagame, Präsident Ruanda (Reuters / C. Hartmann)

Paul Kagame visits Paris in May 2018

Commission of Experts on Genocide in France

Olivier Nduhungirehe, Secretary of State at the Rwandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, sees no new blockage in the bilateral relations between the two countries. "It's not a problem, he has validly represented his president," believes there. "Most importantly, Franco-Rwandan relations have had a fresh start at different levels. We will continue to work to improve these relationships, paying particular attention to some of the issues we are working on. "

In early April, President Macron appointed a commission of experts to examine the archives concerning the genocide period in Rwanda. A concession appreciated by Rwanda and for which the country offered its cooperation.

But not all wounds are enclosed. Jean-Marie Vianney Ndagijimana, former ambassador of Rwanda in France, talks about the turquoise operation. "It protected the escape of the perpetrators of the genocide while it was almost finished", believes there. "This allowed them to escape to Zaire, and here we are mainly talking about France and the role of France since the commission was appointed by the French president because there is a problem related to the fact that France intervened in Rwanda by supporting the genocidal regime before, during and after the genocide. "

Independent experts

Nine experts now have access to French archives that have been closed for 25 years. The majority of them are historians and researchers on the genocide. Vincent Duclert, Director of the Commission, an expert on genocide in Armenia. "The work of the Commission is a good opportunity to activate this network of experts.The Commission will work on two levels: it will listen to a number of experts and then present its work to these experts, to this committee," explains Vincent Duclert, Director of the Commission.

The results of the commission will be published and certain archival documents made available to the public. Vincent Duclert hopes that this will help to better understand the role of France in Rwanda.

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