March 14, 2019

France’s Embassy in Kigali Cannot Comment on President Macron Invitation


President Paul Kagame meets Emmanuel Macron in Paris in September 2017

The French embassy in Kigali has no information about Rwanda’s invitation extended to President Emmanuel Macron to attend the 25th commemoration of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi, officials said.

Media reports have indicated that the Government of Rwanda has invited President Macron, who is currently in Kenya for a state visit and UN environment conference.
Rwanda’s State Minister in charge of East African Affairs Olivier Nduhungirehe is the latest to confirm the invitation.

French language Jeune Afrique magazine was the first to report in February. Since then, there has been no official comment from Paris.

Now, the French embassy is also not willing to speak about the invitation.
“The announcement in Jeune Afrique is that he was invited. As the embassy we have no comment on that,” said Philippine DE BREUVAND, in charge of Economic Affairs.

“It is the role of [The Élysée Palace] to say if he is coming or not. It is not our responsibility,” she added, in reference to the official residence and office of the President of France.

President Paul Kagame was in Paris in May last year. It also followed that of September 2017.

In case Macron accepts to come to Rwanda, he will be the second French president to visit since the genocide, and after President Nicolas Sarkozy visited in February 2010.

Sarkozy’s visit came after relations had been restored back in November 2009 – which had been severed in 2006, and French envoy expelled. It followed controversial indictments by a French Jean-Louis Bruguière of several Rwandan officials over the killing of former President Juvenal Habyarimana.

Another envoy Laurent Contini returned to Kigali in 2010, and a team of new prosecuting judges was appointed.

However, two years later, France again recalled its ambassador to Rwanda Contini after Kigali refused to accept Paris’s choice of a new envoy.

Currently, there is no French ambassador to Rwanda after Kigali refused to give accreditation to the candidate they had proposed.

There is only the Chargé d’affaires Etienne DE SOUZA who manages the embassy.

In December last year, the French judges named back in 2010, dropped a long-running Habyarimana assassination investigation. They had also initially ruled that their ground probe in Rwanda had found the missile used to shoot down Habyarimana’s plane had come from a military camp controlled by his personal troops.

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