The French presidency made a mistake by making comments about the genocide in Rwanda

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PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron was expected to go a step further in acknowledging France’s role in the 1994 Rwanda genocide, and say that Paris “did not have the will” and “could have stopped” the killings.
But in his message aimed at marking the 30th anniversary of the horrific events, Macron steered clear, instead reiterating his previous position on France’s involvement.
A 2021 report, led by French historians, found that France bears “heavy and overwhelming responsibility” in what happened, and had been “blind” to genocide preparations.
Paris, under President François Mitterrand, supported the Hutu leaders at the time.
Macron’s words fall short of what the French presidency briefed journalists last week on outlining the forthcoming message to Rwanda.
In notes seen by POLITICO, Macron was expected to go a step further in recognizing France’s failures to stop the genocide.
However, according to Le Monde, an initial version of the video with a different message had been prepared ahead of the commemorations.
The haphazard messaging from the Elysée Palace has also drawn fire from the Institut François-Mitterrand which has asked the French presidency to “lift the ambiguity” on Macron’s stance on France’s responsibility in the genocide.


PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron was predicted to confirm France’s involvement in the genocide in Rwanda in 1994, but to go further and claim that Paris “did not have the will” and “could have stopped” the killings.

Macron, however, stayed silent and reiterated his prior stance regarding France’s involvement in the terrible events in his message commemorating the 30-year anniversary of the events.

Referring to a historic speech in which Macron acknowledged France’s responsibility in Rwanda but insisted that France was not an accomplice in the massacre, the French president said, “I think I said everything on the 27 May 2021 when I was with you,” in a video message that was broadcast on French and Rwandan television.

In the prerecorded video about the “moment so important and so cruel” of Rwanda’s history that aired on Sunday, Macron said, “I don’t have anything to add nor to remove from what I said.”.

Approximately 800,000 people were killed in the landlocked country of eastern Africa in 1994 when Hutu extremists went on a killing rampage against Hutu moderates and the Tutsi minority.

In a 2021 report, French historians led the charge and concluded that France was “blind” to the preparations for the genocide and bears “heavy and overwhelming responsibility” for what happened. At the time, President François Mitterrand of Paris backed the Hutu leaders.

Macron’s remarks don’t quite match the details of the upcoming message to Rwanda that the French presidency briefed journalists on last week. Macron was supposed to go farther in acknowledging France’s shortcomings in putting an end to the genocide, according to notes obtained by POLITICO.

According to the statement, “the head of state will remind everyone that… the international community had the means to know and act… and that France, which could have stopped the genocide with its Western and African allies, did not have the will to do so.”.

There had been “a bungle at the communications team,” an Elysée Palace press officer said to POLITICO on Monday. “.

The aide continued, “The president’s remarks on Sunday are the only things that matter; there has been no new step in acknowledging France’s role in the genocide.”.

But before the celebrations, Le Monde claims that a preliminary cut of the film had been made with a different message.

The Institut François-Mitterrand has also criticized the Elysée Palace’s disorganized messaging, requesting that the French presidency clarify Macron’s position regarding France’s involvement in the genocide and “lift the ambiguity.”.

According to AFP, former Socialist minister Jean Glavany said, “What could France have done better? Does [the president] deliberately ignore the fact that François Mitterrand… launched a humanitarian operation aimed at saving lives.”.

Although Macron was invited to the memorial service in the capital of Rwanda, he was represented by his junior minister for maritime affairs, Hervé Berville, and his foreign minister, Stéphane Séjourné.

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