Sarkozy admits French 'errors' in genocide
Published 26/02/2010 | 05:00
PRESIDENT Nicolas Sarkozy admitted yesterday that French "errors" had contributed to the Rwandan genocide that killed an estimated 800,000 people in 1994.
On the first visit by a French leader to Rwanda for 25 years, Mr Sarkozy did not formally apologise. Nor did he accept allegations that France had played an active role in training and arming the Hutu militias and troops who led massacres of Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
But he suggested that the entire international community -- and France in particular -- should accept that its response had been culpably weak. "What happened here is a defeat for humanity," Mr Sarkozy said. "What happened here obliges the international community -- including France -- to reflect on the errors which prevented us from foreseeing, or stopping, this appalling crime."
France had always insisted that it could not have foreseen the genocide and that the intervention of its troops helped to save many Hutu and Tutsi lives. Mr Sarkozy's visit to Kigali, and joint press conference with the Rwandan President Paul Kagame, were the most dramatic symbols to date of efforts to repair relations. Diplomatic ties were restored in November, three years after they were severed amid recriminations.
In 2006, a French investigating judge issued international arrest warrants for eight Tutsi officials close to President Kagame, suggesting that they had deliberately provoked the genocide of their own people by assassinating a moderate Hutu president in May 1994. The accusations brought renewed allegations from Mr Kagame's Tutsi-dominated government that France had armed and trained Hutu militias and soldiers knowing that genocidal attacks were likely or possible.
In 1998, a French parliamentary investigation rejected these accusations but admitted that the late President Francois Mitterrand and the then-centre-right government in France had been blinded by supposed French interests in the region into siding with radical, and eventually murderous, Hutu groups. (© Independent News Service, London)