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Rwandan genocide was ‘a French political, institutional and moral failure’ says Duclert Commission

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The researchers of the Duclert Commission, who have been investigating France’s role in the Rwandan genocide, have just officially presented their findings to French President Emmanuel Macron. They point out numerous institutional and moral “failings”.

After conducting two years of research within the French archives, the members of the Duclert Commission made their report on France’s role in the Rwandan genocide public on 26 March, shortly after submitting it officially to French President Emmanuel Macron, who had set up this commission in April 2019.

The nine members – historians for the most part, supported by seven representatives – of this “research commission on the French archives relating to Rwanda and the Tutsi genocide”, chaired by historian Vincent Duclert (CNRS-EHESS), were tasked with examining Paris’ involvement in Rwanda between 1990 and 1994 as well as the French Republic’s troubled role in the Tutsi genocide from April to July 1994.

It is seen as one of the most sensitive issues of French foreign policy over the past half-century.

Imperial defeat

“France’s failure in Rwanda […] can be likened to a final imperial defeat, which is all the more serious because it has been neither formulated nor studied,” concludes the commissioners’ 1,200-page report, which is now available online.

They have also drawn up an inventory of the combined blindness and errors that have led Paris to struggle, since 1994, with a dizzying accusation of “complicity in genocide”.

“France has been pursuing several policies since [October 1990], which have been implemented in parallel and have ended up causing harm. The impression is that the French authorities are locked into logics that are difficult to break with, even during the genocide crisis.”

At the heart of this matter is former Socialist President François Mitterrand, whose personal commitment to this issue has never wavered. “One aspect dominates this policy,” write the commissioners, “and that is the position of the President of the Republic, François Mitterrand, who has a strong, personal and direct relationship with the Rwandan head of state. This relationship is the reason why all the services of the Élysée Palace have been so greatly involved.”

Rwanda welcomes report

The Rwandan government welcomed the report which it said “represents an important step toward a common understanding of  France’s role in the Genocide against Tutsi.”

The Foreign Ministry said an investigative report commissioned by Rwanda in 2017 would be released in the coming weeks and its conclusions would complement those of the Duclert Commission in France.

The issue of France’s role in the genocide had strained relations between the two countries. In 2016, Rwanda implicated 22 French military officers for their direct role in the genocide.

A 2017 report by American law firm Cunningham Levy Muse LLP commissioned by Rwanda said there was strong evidence linking France to the genocide and that French officials facilitated the flow of weapons in the run-up to the genocide.

French troops stationed in Rwanda as part of a UN peacekeeping operation in 1994, under Operation Turquoise, had even created a safe zone to help some perpetrators escape to neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the Muse report.

The President of the National Assembly, Christophe Mboso Nkodia, has invited the Congolese political class, in general, and the national deputies in particular to focus on the essentials to implement the vision of the Head of State in order to bring radical change to the people. 

In his address during the plenary meeting on Monday, March 29,
The  78 years old w, who was elected in Feb this year, called on the Congolese to dissociate themselves from armed groups, which are sowing desolation in the northeast of the DRC.

The President of the National Assembly launched a pathetic appeal to all Congolese, involved in one way or another in the massacres of the Congolese population, to stop collaborating with armed groups.

He said, “The Congolese should not be complicit in those who kill and massacre our brothers and sisters all day long. “

He estimated that the security, humanitarian, political and socio-economic emergencies facing the populations required elected officials to raise their awareness.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the second-largest country in Africa, has been mired in conflict for decades. A country of paradoxes, it is a land rich in natural resources, but its people are among the poorest in the world.

While the DRC has vast amounts of oil, diamonds, gold, and other natural resources, a majority of the population — about 64% — is considered extremely poor and lives on less than $1.90 a day, according to World Bank estimates.

The country is fraught with political instability, armed clashes, and human rights violations. Conflict erupted in 2016 in the Kasai region, which includes five provinces in the center of the country.

It is yet another instance of fighting between the military and splintered ethnic militias. Nationally, 2.1 million people were newly displaced in 2017 and 2018, making the DRC the African country with the highest number of internally displaced people — 4.5 million. About 13 million people lack adequate food, including more than 1.3 million children under 5 affected by severe acute malnutrition.

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