Rwanda: for Emmanuel Macron, France “could have stopped the genocide”, but “did not have the will”

A few days before the 30th anniversary of the start of the massacres in Rwanda and while he had already recognized, in 2021, France's "responsibilities" in the genocide, the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, estimated that France " could have stopped the genocide” of the Tutsi in 1994, “with its Western and African allies”, but “did not have the will”, the Elysée said on Thursday April 4

Rwanda: for Emmanuel Macron, France “could have stopped the genocide”, but “did not have the will”

A few days before the 30th anniversary of the start of the massacres in Rwanda and while he had already recognized, in 2021, France's "responsibilities" in the genocide, the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, estimated that France " could have stopped the genocide” of the Tutsi in 1994, “with its Western and African allies”, but “did not have the will”, the Elysée said on Thursday April 4.

Invited by his Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame, to the commemorations on Sunday April 7, the French president will not attend and will be represented by his Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stéphane Séjourné, and by the Secretary of State for the Sea, Hervé Berville, born in Rwanda. Emmanuel Macron will, however, speak on Sunday “through a video which will be published on his social networks”, reported those around him.

“The Head of State will recall in particular that, when the phase of total extermination against the Tutsi began, the international community had the means to know and act, through its knowledge of the genocides revealed to us by the survivors of the Armenians and the Shoah, and that France, which could have stopped the genocide with its Western and African allies, did not have the will,” affirmed the presidency.

In May 2021, the French president's trip to Kigali and the words he spoke on this occasion sealed a rapprochement with Paul Kagame, who had constantly questioned France.

“Immense courage” from a “friend”

This question of the French role before, during, and after the genocide was a hot topic for years, even leading to a breakdown in diplomatic relations between Paris and Kigali between 2006 and 2009. At the memorial in the Rwandan capital, Emmanuel Macron said three years ago he came to “recognize” France’s “responsibilities” in the genocide, which left at least 800,000 dead, mainly members of the Tutsi minority, between April and July 1994.

“While French officials had the lucidity and courage to describe it as genocide, France failed to draw the appropriate consequences,” he said. “We have all abandoned hundreds of thousands of victims to this infernal closed door,” he added. He clarified that Paris had “not been complicit” with the Hutu genocidaires, and had not apologized, while saying he hoped for forgiveness from the survivors.

A report by historians published shortly before under the direction of Vincent Duclert had concluded that France had “heavy and overwhelming responsibilities” and that the socialist president of the time, François Mitterrand, and his entourage were “blind” in the face of to the racist and genocidal drift of the Hutu government, which Paris then supported.

The 2021 presidential speech was praised by Paul Kagame, who spoke of the “immense courage” of his “friend” Emmanuel Macron.

This message “goes even further”

The message reported Thursday "goes even further than the Duclert report and the statement he [Emmanuel Macron] made in Kigali", immediately rejoiced Marcel Kabanda, president of Ibuka France, the main memory organization, justice and support for survivors of the Tutsi genocide. “I am pleased that he gives France this positive image of a country which recognizes its wrongs and which grows by recognizing its history,” he told Agence France-Presse.

According to the Elysée, on Sunday "April 7, the Head of State will reaffirm that France stands alongside Rwanda, the Rwandan people, in memory of a million children, women and men martyred because they were born Tutsi. It will reiterate the importance of the duty of memory, but also of the development of reference knowledge and its dissemination, in particular through the education of younger generations in France,” he continued.

In 2010, Nicolas Sarkozy, then president of France, had already recognized, in Kigali, “serious errors” and “a form of blindness” on the part of the French authorities which had “absolutely dramatic” consequences.