PARIS, Feb 20 – France said Monday it had recalled its ambassador to Rwanda after authorities in Kigali refused to accept the appointment of Paris’s choice of a new envoy.
“The Rwandan authorities refused to give this approval” and “we have recalled our ambassador (Laurent Contini) for consultations in order to study the situation,” said a French foreign ministry spokesman, Vincent Floreani.
Weekly Jeune Afrique earlier reported that Kigali had this month rejected the nomination of Helene Le Gal, currently France’s consul in Quebec, because she was considered too close to French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe.
The magazine said Juppe “has long been considered hostile to the current authorities in Kigali.”
Floreani would neither confirm nor deny this was the reason for Le Gal’s rejection, but said ties between the two countries were strong.
“Relations between France and Rwanda have not stopped strengthening since the visit of the president (Nicolas Sarkozy) to Kigali in February 2010, which sealed at the highest level the political and economic recovery between our two countries,” he said.
“The good quality of our bilateral relations was shown by the recent visits in France of Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo in July 2011 and President Paul Kagame in September,” he added.
Juppe, who was also foreign minister during the Rwandan genocide in 1994, has said he will not “shake hands” with Kagame or go to Rwanda following the release of a 2008 report accusing France of complicity in the genocide.
Juppe, who has dismissed the report as “lies and fabrications”, did not meet his Rwandan counterpart when she visited France and was outside the country during Kagame’s visit.