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French President Emmanuel Macron (L) walks along side Rwandan President Paul Kagame in the grounds of the Presidential Palace in Kigali on May 27, 2021. - French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Rwanda on May 27, 2021, for a highly symbolic visit aimed at moving on from three decades of diplomatic tensions over France's role in the 1994 genocide in the country. Macron is the first French leader since 2010 to visit the East African nation, which has long accused France of complicity in the killing of some 800,000 mostly Tutsi Rwandans. (Photo by Ludovic MARIN / AFP)

Africa

Rwanda’s Kagame says Macron speech ‘more valuable than an apology’

Kigali, Rwanda, May 27 – Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Thursday hailed a speech by his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron recognising France’s role and responsibility in the 1994 genocide. 

“His words were something more valuable than an apology. They were the truth,” he told a joint press conference after the two leaders met in Kigali.

Macron said he “recognises” France’s role which included backing the former genocidal regime in Rwanda and ignoring warnings of the impending massacres which left some 800,000 mostly Tutsis dead.

His highly anticipated speech did not contain a formal apology, but he went further than his predecessors and said that only those who had survived the horrors “can maybe forgive, give us the gift of forgiveness.”

Macron’s visit is aimed at turning the page on decades of diplomatic tensions over the genocide and Kagame said relations would only strengthen going forward.

“France and Rwanda are going to relate much better to the benefit of both our peoples, economically, politically and in terms of culture,” he said.

“But the relationship between our two countries will never be entirely conventional. There is a special familiarity resulting from the complex and terrible history we share, for better or for worse. 

“We have chosen to make it for the better. We wish to form a strong and sustainable relationship, based on priorities that matter to both Rwanda and France.”

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