A Rwanda and France showdown is in the works as Rwanda’s incumbent President, Paul Kagame, took a personal affront on the renewed efforts of France to launch an investigation into the events that led to the Rwandan genocide.
It is a path that France has towed before, one that soured the relationship between it and Rwanda when in 2006, a judge had called for President Kagame to stand trial for the alleged crime. Rwanda cut ties with France for three years and even when relations resumed, they have been tense ever since.
The crime in question that President Kagame is being accused of occurred on April 1994. Then President Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane, which was also carrying the President of Burundi had been shot down by an unknown assailant. The shooting down of the plane unleashed a slaughter in which ethnic Hutu extremists killed more than 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus, in what is now known as the Rwandan genocide.
French investigators want to hear evidence from a former general who claims Mr. Kagame was involved in the shooting down of the plane, but President Kagame maintains it was the work of Hutu extremists, who wanted to provide a pretext for violence against the Tutsi community.
The former general, Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, accused President Kagame of ordering the assassination that opened up the Rwandan genocide.
A Rwandan inquiry backed up the president’s assertions, but subsequent French investigations have failed to reach any conclusions. Nyamwasa now lives in exile in South Africa.
President Kagame was openly critical of France opening the investigation, saying on Monday;
“The judicial system of Rwanda is not subordinate to France or France’s interests,”
“If starting all over again is a showdown we will have a showdown, there is no problem about that.”
French authorities, meanwhile, have now asked for South Africa’s cooperation in formally questioning Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa.