Macron asks Rwanda for forgiveness over the 1994 genocide

In a speech at the genocide memorial in Rwanda's capital Kigali, Macron said France did not heed warnings of the slaughter

In a speech delivered on May 27, 2021, at the genocide memorial in Kigali, French President Macron said France had for too long "valued silence over examination of the truth", standing by a genocidal regime that killed about 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Macron's speech comes at the end of a long and complex reconciliation process between France and Rwanda. Earlier this year, President Macron presented a report on France's "serious and overwhelming" responsibilities in the Rwanda genocide, which he commissioned in 2019. Another report followed, in which the Rwandan government said that there was evidence of France's "unqualified support of the Rwandan government".

While adding that France had not been an accomplice to the killings, President Macron said in his speech in Kigali that France has "a duty to confront history and to recognize its part of the suffering it inflicted to the Rwandan people".

Rwandan President Paul Kagame praised President Macron's speech as "something more valuable than an apology". Mr. Macron's words, Kagame said, "were the truth" and "an act of tremendous courage" that would make Rwanda's relations with France grow stronger in the future.

However important, the ongoing reconciliation process has also attracted criticism: a recent editorial published in Le Monde argued that the recognition of French guilt "does not justify turning a blind eye to the authoritarian character of the current Rwandan government".

28 May 2021

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