French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday recognised his country’s role in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, from backing a genocidal regime to ignoring warnings of the impending massacres.
“Standing here today, with humility and respect, by your side, I have come to recognise our responsibilities,” Macron said in a speech at the Kigali Genocide Memorial.
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.
Macron said France “was not complicit” in the genocide.
“But France has a role, a story and a political responsibility to Rwanda. She has a duty: to face history head-on and recognise the suffering she has inflicted on the Rwandan people by too long valuing silence over the examination of the truth”.
While some had been hoping for a full apology, Macron’s comments went further than his predecessors and he said that only those who had survived the horrors “can maybe forgive, give us the gift of forgiveness.”
Genocide survivors’ group regrets lack of ‘clear apology’
Meanwhile, Rwanda’s main genocide survivor group said Thursday it was disappointed Macron did not “present a clear apology” for France’s role in the 1994 genocide during his visit to Rwanda.
Egide Nkuranga, president of the Ibuka association, said Macron did not “ask forgiveness”. But he “really tried to explain the genocide, how it happened, what they didn’t do, their responsibilities… It’s very important, it shows that he understands us.”