PARIS — France said on Saturday it had cancelled plans to attend a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide following accusations of French involvement in the massacre by Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
The African weekly Jeune Afrique quoted Kagame last month as saying in an interview that both France and Belgium had played a “direct role . . . in the political preparation of genocide and participation in its execution”.
The French Foreign Ministry said France was “surprised by the recent accusations made by the Rwandan President” and that French Justice minister Christiane Taubira, who had been due to travel to the Rwandan capital Kigali today, would no longer attend the commemoration.
“These accusations are in contradiction with the process of dialogue and reconciliation that has gone on for several years between our two countries,” the ministry’s statement said.
The armed forces of Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front defeated government troops in 1994, stopping a three-month wave of bloodletting by ethnic Hutu extremists in which more than
800 000 minority Tutsis and politically moderate Hutus were killed.
Before the genocide, France was Rwanda’s main Western backer. But in its aftermath, their relations collapsed as Kagame accused France of training and arming the Hutu militias who were the main force behind the slaughter — an accusation Paris always denied.