France Acknowledges Role in Rwandan Genocide.. A Milestone in Diplomatic Relations

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In a significant development marking a potential turning point in diplomatic relations, France is set to make a profound admission regarding its historical involvement in the Rwandan genocide.

President Emmanuel Macron, in a forthcoming video to be aired this weekend on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda, will acknowledge that France, alongside its Western and African allies, could have intervened to halt the atrocities but lacked the necessary will.

The statement from the Élysée Palace underscores a dramatic shift in France’s stance towards its role in one of the darkest chapters of modern history. Macron’s recognition of France’s potential to prevent the genocide is a stark departure from previous official narratives, indicating a willingness to confront uncomfortable truths and pave the way for reconciliation.

This latest development comes amidst a broader thaw in diplomatic relations between Paris and Kigali. While official responses from Rwandan authorities are awaited, the mere acknowledgment from France represents a significant step forward. The timing of Macron’s statement, coinciding with the delegation’s visit to Kigali for the anniversary commemoration, underscores the gravity and sincerity of France’s intentions to mend ties.

Key French officials, including Secretary of State for the Sea and Biodiversity, Hervé Berville, have already arrived in Rwanda, with Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné scheduled to meet his Rwandan counterpart, Vincent Biruta, signaling a tangible commitment to dialogue and engagement.

The journey towards reconciliation has been a gradual process, punctuated by Macron’s historic visit to Rwanda in May 2021. His poignant speech at the Gisozi Memorial, where he acknowledged France’s responsibility, resonated deeply with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who lauded Macron’s courage and friendship.

Subsequent official visits by French dignitaries, such as former Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade, Franck Riester, further solidified the burgeoning diplomatic rapprochement.

Symbolizing this thaw, France appointed an ambassador to Rwanda in 2021 after a six-year vacancy, underscoring its commitment to rekindling bilateral ties and fostering mutual understanding.

President Macron’s forthcoming declaration marks a watershed moment, not only in France’s acknowledgment of its past but also in the journey towards healing and reconciliation between France and Rwanda.

As the world commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, this gesture serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of confronting history with humility and forging a path toward a more harmonious future.

Soukaina Sghir

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