Rwanda: Macron Acknowledges France’s ‘Failure to Heed Warnings’ of Looming Massacres in Rwanda

As Rwandans began to commemorate the painful memories of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis, on Sunday French President Emmanuel Macron released a video message from France.

Saying he stood by his comments in May 2021, when he acknowledged France’s failure to heed warnings of looming massacres, Macron once again stopped short of an official apology.

“I have no word to add, no word to take away from what I told you that day,” Macron said. “We have all abandoned hundreds of thousands of victims to this infernal closed door.”

At the time of the genocide, the French government had been a long-standing backer of Rwanda’s Hutu-dominated regime, leading to decades of tensions between the two countries.

Perezida w’u Bufaransa, Emmanuel Macron yifatanyije n’u Rwanda mu kwibuka ku nshuro ya 30 Jenoside yakorewe Abatutsi.Yavuze ko u Bufaransa bwemera uruhare rwabwo muri ayo mateka kandi ko buzakomeza kuba ku ruhande rw’u Rwanda.Ati “Amateka agomba gukomeza kuvugwa, amateka…— IGIHE (@IGIHE) April 7, 2024

However, the French presidency’s communication office had published on Thursday a different text for his speech, stating that Macron would release a message saying France and its Western and African allies “could have stopped” the bloodshed, but lacked the will to do so.

The eventual message did not however represent a significant step forward from Macron’s earlier comments on the genocide.

Need for more

In Rwanda, and among the Rwandan survivors living in France, the change of tone surprised many.

Philibert Gakwenzire, president of Ibuka, the French association of genocide survivors, told RFI that he wants Paris to go further, to the point of an official apology, even though he remains satisfied with a message of continuity in the improvement of Franco-Rwandan relations.