French, Rwanda relations sour at genocide memorial


Rwandan president Paul Kagame

KIGALI, (CAJ News) PRESIDENT Paul Kagame has hit out at his country’s detractors as Rwanda commemorated 27 years of the genocide against the minority Tutsi.

The president alleged hostile campaign against him by disgraced former government officials and cited the alleged involvement of France in the atrocities that left an estimated 800 000 people dead at the hands of the majority Hutu.

“My friends, you can tell any lie about me; you are free to do so,” he said to his former government colleagues.

“You can pile up tons of lies; it won’t change me, absolutely not. It won’t change this country to be what you want it to be. It doesn’t matter how many lies. That I can promise you,” Kagame hit out.

Kagame was speaking at the Kigali Arena in the capital city, Kigali.

He said his government would later this month release its findings on the French involvement in the 1994 genocide.

Kagame, president since 2000, noted the findings were in line with the Duclert report, which absolved France of complicity.

“The important thing is to continue working together to document the truth. This is the truth. The decades-long effort by certain French officials to cover up their responsibilities has caused significant damage,” he said.

Some countries, he said, were hesitant to term the atrocities rightfully as genocide, despite a unanimous resolution by the United Nations General Assembly.

“There are still one or two countries which stubbornly refuse to use the phrase genocide against the Tutsi,” Kagame said.

“Specialists and human rights groups remain silent about the obvious dangers, reluctant to say anything that might be seen to vindicate the Rwandan government.”

Kagame said Rwanda would not be deterred.

“For us in Rwanda, we are not being held back. We move forward. There is no difference so big that a hand extended in good faith will not be reciprocated. That is how we Rwandans are, who our history has made us,” he said.

He commended Rwandans for remaining resilient and dedicated to unity and reconciliation.

“We are full of purpose and hope. The immensity of what has been achieved is almost miraculous. The results are attested to by Rwandans, and indeed indisputable. First, there are the tangible signs, things that we can see and feel.”

Rwanda is hailed as an economic success story.

Annual gross domestic product growth has averaged 7,76 percent between 2000 and 2019.

Growth is projected to slow to 5,7 percent in 2021 because of COVID-19.

– CAJ News

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