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RWANDA

Macron proposes day of commemoration for Rwanda genocide

French President Emmanuel Macron proposed an annual day of commemoration for the Rwanda genocide on Sunday as the African nation marked 25 years since the massacres of the minority Tutsi community.

Macron proposes day of commemoration for Rwanda genocide
African Union chief Moussa Faki, Rwanda's President Paul Kagame and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at 25th Commemoration of the 1994 Genocide in Kigali, Rwanda on April 7. Photo: Y
The French leader expressed his “solidarity with the Rwandan people and his compassion for the victims and their families” in a statement that proposed April 7 as an annual remembrance day in France.
 
Macron drew criticism from some activists for failing to attend the start of commemoration events in Rwanda on Sunday, instead sending a personal envoy, a Rwandan-born MP Herve Berville who was orphaned in the 1993 violence.
 
A Rwandan victims' group, Ibuka France, hailed Macron's announcement of a national Rwanda genocide day and said it had suggested the idea during a meeting with the 41-year-old leader last week.
 
“My reaction is one of satisfaction,” the head of the group, Marcel Kabanda, said before adding that he hoped France would now introspect more about its role in the massacres.
 
“It's not the French population fundamentally, but the political elite that needs to talk about it more. It will take time but it's a new phase,” he told AFP.
 
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The genocide has cast a long shadow over Franco-Rwandan relations. Rwanda's current President Paul Kagame, a Tutsi, accuses France of having supported the ethnic Hutu forces behind most of the slaughter and of helping some of the perpetrators to escape.
 
On Friday, Macron announced the creation of a commission of historians and researchers that will delve into the French state's archives in a move intended to set the historical record straight.

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RWANDA

France drops probe into attack that sparked Rwanda genocide: legal source

French judges have dropped their long-running investigation into the deadly 1994 attack on former Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana, which sparked the country's genocide, a legal source told AFP on Wednesday.

France drops probe into attack that sparked Rwanda genocide: legal source
Late Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana, December 10, 1984. File photo: Georges Gobet/AFP.

The probe has been a major source of tension between the two countries after seven people close to current Rwandan President Paul Kagame were charged in the French investigation.

Philippe Meilhac, lawyer for Habyarimana's widow Agathe, told AFP that plaintiffs in the case would appeal the decision to scrap the investigation.

French prosecutors had requested the probe be dismissed in October due to insufficient evidence against the seven suspects.

At the time, lawyers for Habyarimana's widow called the prosecutors' move “unacceptable” and “largely politically motivated”.

Habyarimana, an ethnic Hutu, was killed in a missile strike on his plane near Kigali's airport in April 1994.

His assassination triggered 100 days of bloodshed that left an estimated 800,000 people dead, mostly members of the Tutsi minority.

Kigali has long accused France of complicity in the genocide by supporting the Hutu regime, training the soldiers and militiamen who carried out the killings.

The French probe into Habyarimana's execution was opened in 1998 on the request of relatives of French crew members killed in the attack on the plane.

The first judge to lead the probe, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, backed the theory that it was Tutsi militants from the former rebellion led by Kagame, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR), who shot down the plane.

The French probe was closed but eventually reopened in 2016 before hitting a series of legal obstacles over the past two years.

A Rwandan commission had in 2009 found Hutu extremists responsible for the assassination of Habyarimana.

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