Monday 11 December 2017

French, Rwandan presidents hold rare meeting amid tense diplomatic ties

French, Rwandan presidents hold rare meeting amid tense diplomatic ties
(AFP 09/19/17)

Rwandan President Paul Kagame has met with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in New York for rare talks, Kigali said Tuesday, as diplomatic ties remain icy over the 1994 genocide.

Kigali has long accused France of complicity in the genocide of some 800,000 mostly ethnic Tutsis, at the hands of Hutu extremists, angering Paris and straining relations.

The Rwandan presidency said in a statement on Twitter that Kagame and Macron on Monday discussed "collaboration on issues of mutual interest including peace (and) security in Africa", on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Ties between Kigali and Paris had been on the mend until 2014 when Kagame repeated accusations that French soldiers were both accomplices and "actors" in the bloodbath.

The stormy relationship took an even worse turn when the French judiciary decided in October 2016 to re-open an investigation into the shooting down of former president Juvenal Habyarimana's plane, which triggered 100 days of meticulously planned slaughter.

The case was re-opened to hear testimony from a former general who accuses Kagame of being behind the assassination.

France is accused of missing or ignoring the warning signs, and of training the soldiers and militiamen who carried out the killings.

And when the genocide was in full swing, it was further accused of using its diplomatic clout to stall effective action.

Rwandan political commentator Christopher Kayumba, said the meeting in New York was a "good sign that the relationship between the two could be better than with previous French presidents".

"Both presidents are meeting for the first time and are still trying to study each other and create a relationship beyond the historic mistrust between both countries," he said.

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