President Paul Kagame on Friday received French Historian Vincent Duclert, who presented the report containing the findings of the Commission he led, established by President Emmanuel Macron of France, to ascertain the role of the French government in Rwanda.
The French historian delivered the report titled “France, Rwanda and the Genocide Against the Tutsi” to President Kagame at Village Urugwiro, following its release last month after two years of research.
Though the report by the Duclert Commission ruled out complicity by France, it concluded that there was failure on President Francois Mitterrand’s government, which was ‘blind’ to the preparation of the genocide and that France had “heavy and overwhelming responsibilities”.
Rwanda welcomed the report whose findings are based on what was found in the archives on Rwanda from President Mitterrand’s time.
President Kagame on April 7, while officiating at the beginning of the 27th Commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi said that Rwanda welcomed the report which he said is a key step towards establishing the truth.
After presenting the report to the Head of State, Duclert said he was “very happy” to be able to give President Paul Kagame the report which he worked on with his team, which he said put in a lot of effort and research to finish it.
He said the report was based on scientific findings and that President Macron personally engaged the researchers on the importance of establishing the historical facts, which would go a long way in ensuring justice and peace.
Duclert said President Kagame was ‘extremely welcoming’ to the team and the findings in the report and spent time discussing with the researchers the importance of arriving at the historical facts.
President Kagame discussed the events highlighted in the report and shared his own knowledge of what happened at the time, including events which were not mentioned in the report.
He said they came to Rwanda as ‘independent researchers’ and not as government officials, after presenting the findings to President Macron, emphasizing that they had a fascinating conversation with President Kagame on the history of the two countries, in what he described as a ‘positive moment’.
Duclert said that their findings are open to criticism but emphasized the importance of openness and transparency as the two countries continue to work together, citing a decision by the French government to declassify President Mitterrand archives on Rwanda, on April 7, as another positive step towards establishing the truth.
The French researcher emphasized the findings of the report, which indicate that President Mitterrand’s government was aware of what was going in Rwanda but there was no effort to stop the planning and execution of the genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi.
He said that there was sufficient evidence as seen in the archives that the genocide targeting the Tutsi was being planned even in earlier years, from the 1990 through 1994 but the French government under Mitterrand ‘blindly’ ignore the signs and continued to support President Juvenal Habyarimana’s government.
Duclert said that the killings particularly targeted the Tutsi and the that the 1994 Genocide was perpetrated against the Tutsi, these are historical facts that can’t be changed, dispelling the double genocide theory.
He said that there is a common understanding between what the report says and what Rwanda says, adding that both countries are ‘speaking the same language’, something he said is an important step in addressing historical difficulties between the two countries.
Without dwelling much on the complicity of France, Duclert said the aim of the report and other future processes is simply aimed at establishing the truth, highlighting the responsibilities France had and clearing some of the challenges that have stood in the way of the two countries reaching a rapprochement.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Dr. Vincent Biruta said that Rwanda applauds President Macron’s determination to initiate the process to establish a commission of researchers to investigate the role of France in Rwanda between 1990 and 1994 and also allowing access to the Mitterrand archives.
“The report revealed a lot of facts, it revealed the involvement of French officials in Rwanda at the time, particularly the period from 1990 to 1994. The report is clear on their role. It is a vital report in the relations between Rwanda and France,”
“We want ties which are built on understanding historical facts and being on the same understanding of what happened. This is very important because we will be on the same page. We will all have the same facts and acknowledge the responsibilities people had at the time,” Dr. Biruta said.
He pointed out Rwanda will soon issue its own report in the coming days but said that the findings will complement or reinforce what the French report says, emphasizing that Rwanda’s report is not aimed at contradicting the Duclert Report.
Duclert said that President Macron’s planned visit to Rwanda next month will be yet another important step towards the two countries fully being accountable to each other and set the path towards reaching a historic understanding.
Relations between Rwanda and France have been tense over the past 27 years mainly due to the fact that France had never acknowledged its role in Rwanda between 1990 and 1994.
President Macron ensured that the commission and researchers have access to Mitterrand’s archives on Rwanda, which were previously confidential, to ensure French transparency in a bid to address challenges that stood between the two countries.
President Kagame emphasized that what Rwanda needs is the truth and nothing beyond that. The Duclert Report is the closest the French have come towards acknowledging their role.