France and Rwanda turn the page

The key findings of a French report into the downing of the plane carrying President Habyarimana in April, 1994 were made public through lawyers in Paris yesterday.

I spent 25 minutes with Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, in Kigali this morning to discuss the report, Franco-Rwanda relations, press freedom, political space and regional diplomatic relations.

A small portion of what was discussed appears in this report for Reuters. The Minister said the findings of the Trevidic report were a big issue for Rwanda,

“This a big issue in this country. Certainly, in terms of public perception the fact that there was a French judge who messed up. And now, there is another French judge who is working in a professional manner,” Mushikiwabo said in an interview. “This is a small part of the repair that has to be done on the relationship, but it certainly helps.” link

If and when I get the time – and if there’s any interest – I will transcribe and blog the entire interview. However, in brief, I got a sense from the interview that the report might now allow Rwanda, and France, to turn an important page and move on.

There is still a great deal of animosity between the French Foreign Minister – Alain Juppé – and Rwanda. Indeed, the current French Ambassador to Rwanda was, allegedly, given his marching orders by the Elysee after comments he made in Jeune Afrique about Franco-Rwanda relations. We have yet to see how his replacement – “Juppé’s woman” – they’re old friends from Montreal – will step into Laurent Contini’s ambassadorial shoes in Kigali.

For more reaction and reportage following the Trevidic report, take a look through these links. Here is my colleague Themis’ report for Reuters TV (in French).

Photo taken on my phone on the sixth floor, waiting to interview the Minister, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kigali.

Update: Here’s a video summary from Euronews of the findings of the report and the history of Franco-Rwanda relations.

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