France and Rwanda hostile after Kagame accuses France of genocide planning
KPFA Evening News Anchor Sharon Sobotta: An international argument between French and Rwandan officials broke out this week after Rwandan President General Paul Kagame accused the French of playing a direct role in the political preparation of genocide in an interview with Jeune Afrique. Justice Minister Christiane Taubira canceled her plan to attend the genocide commemoration in Kigali, but then the Rwandan government announced that they had canceled her invitation anyway. Alain Juppé, who served as the French Foreign Minister during the last two years of Uganda's 1990 to 1994 war with Rwanda, called upon President Francois Hollande to defend the honor of France, but Hollande expressed little more than surprise because, he said, he had recently had a cordial meeting with Kagame in Brussels. KPFA’s Ann Garrison has more.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: Current French Foreign Minister Edouard Balladur appeared to side with former French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé and current French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira. Balladur said that France’s Operation Turquoise had probably saved the lives of about 15,000 Rwandan refugees, and that, quote, "France was the only country in the world which took the initiative of organizing a humanitarian operation to prevent a generalized massacre."
The French Socialist government of President Francois Mitterand supported the Hutu government of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, and the U.S. government headed by President Bill Clinton supported the predominantly Tutsi forces led by General Paul Kagame, which invaded Rwanda from Uganda in October 1990 and waged the four year war that they finally won after violating the peace accords signed in Arusha, Tanzania. Someone fired a surface-to air missile from the ground in Rwanda, shooting President Habyarimana’s plane out of the sky as he returned home from signing the peace accords in Arusha, Kagame’s army then immediately began to advance, the Hutu population panicked, and the infamous 100 days of massacres began.
Until recently, however, these historical events have been widely discussed only in the French speaking world. Robin Philpot, author of Rwanda and the New Scramble for Africa, from Tragedy to Useful Imperial Fiction, was not able to get his book published in English, until the imprint that he manages, Baraka Books, published an updated version this year. Philpot said that Kagame’s former Chief of Staff Theogene Rudasingwa, who now lives in exile in the U.S., had helped share the story in the English speaking world by publishing his own book, in which he says that General Kagame actually bragged of assassinating President Habyarimana, and wanted to create the illusion that the world was standing by, when they had actually asked the U.S. not to intervene.
Robin Philpot: The Americans and the British did everything they could to make sure there would be no intervention to stop the fighting and to stop the killing. Well then, Rudasingwa said it in his book. He said 'our strategy was to make sure there would be no international force. This is in April and May. We sent people to Washington and New York, and that's where it was communicated, but our public strategy was to say that the international community sat idly by and didn't do anything, and abandoned the Tutsi. In other words, he comes out and says exactly the same thing as I do, and he was at that time with Kagame, because he believed in it. And I think, after, he said 'Yes, we made mistakes.'
KPFA: For Pacifica, KPFA and AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.