- Diplomacy - Governance
Rwanda and France bury the hatchet
Diplomatic ties restored ahead of Sarkozy visit
Rwanda and France have resumed diplomatic ties after three years of ambassadorial impasse. French president Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy will visit Rwanda next month, and a new French ambassador has presented his credentials to resume and head an embassy in Rwanda.
The move follows a recent finding by a Rwanda government enquiry exonerating France from any involvement in the 1994 genocide that claimed the lives of over one million Rwandans.
The genocide was triggered after the shooting down of the plane carrying Rwandan President Juvenal Habyaremana. This led to the mass killings of minority Tutsis by extremist Hutu militias.
The Rwandan government enquiry, early this month, concluded that President Habyaremana’s plane was shot down by Hutu extremists within his own inner circle and that France was not involved.
Nonetheless, French military officials stationed in Rwanda as part of a military agreement with the government, had access to the plane wreckage.
The enquiry according to reports, said French officials had disappeared with the aircraft’s flight recorder and debris from the missiles fired at it.
Relationship between Rwanda and France were strained after a French investigative judge accused Rwanda’s President Mr. Paul Kagame of helping to spark the 1994 genocide, and Rwanda, in turn, accused France of arming Hutu militias to cleanse Tutsis.
English replaces French
In 2008, the Rwanda government decided all education would be taught in English instead of French. And in 2009, Rwanda was admitted to the Commonwealth, an association of mainly former British colonies- a show of the enmity that ensued between Rwanda and France following the 1994 genocide.
"We have a common history. We have had difficulties. We are ready to discuss them and move on," Rwanda Foreign Minister, Louise Mushikiwabo was quoted as saying.
In a recent visit by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner to Kigali, Rwanda decided the two countries had to move forward together and so both countries after years of playing the blame game, agreed to restore relations.