French President Emmanuel Macron will be in Rwanda on Thursday and Friday next week, in a landmark visit that will put relations between Rwanda and France on track to normalization.
The French Presidency and Rwanda’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation have confirmed the visit with the advance team of the French leader already on the ground to plan the visit which follows President Paul Kagame’s recent visit to France.
According to French Presidency, “the visit will mark a new stage in the rapprochement and undoubtedly a final stage of normalization of relations,”, making President Macron the second French President to visit Rwanda.
The visit comes after two reports in France and in Rwanda reached a conclusion on the role of France in the period before, during and after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, ending years of disagreements and differing narratives.
The Duclert Commission report, issues by a group of historians led by Vincent Duclert, concluded that while France had a heavy and overwhelming responsibilities in what happened, there was no complicity and that the government was blind to the planning and execution of the genocide.
A report by Levy, Firestone Muse LLC, commission by Rwanda however concluded that France was neither blind nor unconscious about the planning and execution of the Genocide against the Tutsi and the President Francois Mitterrand’s government offered unwavering military and political support.
The two reports have been welcomed by both countries with President Kagame saying that they brought about a convergence of facts, adding that what Rwanda is looking for is the clarity of history, not apologies.
Since his ascension to office, President Macron has been working towards restoring ties with Rwanda, initiating the Duclert Commission in 2019 and other efforts.
Last week in Paris, the leaders of the two countries held talks on the way forward, with President Kagame emphasizing that he was impressed with the process and saw it as an opportunity to normalize ties.
During his visit in Kigali, the two leaders will meet to chart the way forward on the relations of the two countries. He will also visit Kigali Genocide Memorial centre to pay respects to victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. He will also unveil the Francophone Cultural Centre in Kigali.
He will also name a new envoy to Kigali, in yet another milestone. France has not accredited an Ambassador to Kigali since 2015, after the departure of Michel Flesch.
Relations between Rwanda and France stabilized a bit during President Nicolas Sarkozy’s time in office between 2010 and 2011 but the role of France in Rwanda remained a thorn in the ties with Paris not acknowledging its role.
On Friday, President Macron will head to South Africa where he will meet President Cyril Ramaphosa to discuss the continent’s fight against COVID-19