By Erasme Rugemintwaza
May 27, 2021, the D-Day! The day French President Emmanuel Macrons flies to Kigali on the invitation of Kagame. A symbolic visit, like the previous one of Sarkozy in 2010. A visit which according to the tenants of two “States Houses” opens “a new page of history” for France and Rwanda without erasing those of the past. But this visit, about which Much has been said and written will begin with a somewhat gloomy atmosphere: Kagame is absent and at the airport and at the Gisozi memorial where the Word of the day is expected! Emmanuel Macron is determined to bury the ax of hatred. Is this visit really the solemn inauguration of a strong and lasting friendship, or a simple embellishment as in Sarkozy’s time? Let’s analyze the facts!
The surly attitude of Kagame
What does drive Kagame to appear as cold as marble during the visit of Emmanuel Macron, this young president who activated all the batteries to warm up political relations between France and Rwanda, after 27 years of mutual mistrust ? The first gesture that will disconcert more than one is this cold reception given to President Emmanuel Macron at the airport. In fact on his arrival in Kigali, Emmanuel Macron was welcomed at Kanombe airport by Vincent Biruta, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Rwanda, sent by the president. Some believe that Kagame did not want to duly welcome Emmanuel Macron to give him back, in a savage way, what happened to him. In fact last week, Emmanuel Macron had also delegated a Minister to receive Paul Kagamé, on the eve of the summit on African economies. If that would be the reason, it would be savage behavior because Macron could have been busy with any interview as Paris was organizing a summit of heads of state. Others cite health reasons as many people continue to report that she is in danger from cancer which is eating away his brain. In principle, a head of state is received by a head of state, that is, equal to equal, otherwise in diplomatic language this implies that relations are problematic. But Kagame took his anger to the fore by missing out on the Gisozi memorial in Kigali, where Emmanuel Macron will deliver a symbolic speech. The worst will happen in The Village Urugwiro where Kagame instead of following in the footsteps of his counterpart, will hide behind or beside the red carpet. A gesture that shows that Kagame
was under the weather.
France is not an accomplice!
President Emmanuel Macron delivered a highly symbolic and highly anticipated speech this Thursday, May 27, 2021, at the genocide memorial in Kigali, capital of Rwanda. If the French head of state recognized “the heavy and overwhelming responsibilities” of France in the genocide of the Tutsis, he did not however formulate a formal apology but rather passionately reiterated that France was not an accomplice. in the genocide. He says it clearly, “The killers who haunted the swamps, the hills, the churches did not have the face of France. She was not an accomplice. The blood that shed did not dishonor his weapons, nor the hands of his soldiers, who also saw with their own eyes the nameless, heal wounds and stifle their tears “
A position which is the antipode of Kagame who has always castigated France’s role in the preparation and even the execution of the genocide against the Tutsis. It seems this position Macron would have raised the bile of Kagame, which would have prompted him not to go to the memorial. But Emmanuel Macron wants to reposition France: “But France has a role, a history and a political responsibility in Rwanda.It has a duty to look in the face and recognize the share of suffering it has inflicted on the Rwandan people by making silence too prevail over the examination of the truth “
Several Rwandans hoped that Emmanuel Macron was the bearer of a very formal apology from France in order to finalize the reconciliation initiated by himself. But what is visible is that the French political line vis-à-vis the genocide of the Tutsis remains the same; Macron simply stuffed it with trifles of wads of bank notes and projects to soften the wrath of the Kigali strongman especially since money strikes the right chord of the man of Kigali. Macron wants to transform Rwanda into a base to control the wealth of the DRC, the Central African Republic and Mozambique, as he stressed in the press conference! After 27 years, France, through its president, says “so by standing, with humility and respect, by your side, today, I come to recognize our responsibilities”
At the opening of their joint press conference, Kagame praised the “powerful speech, with special meaning” of his French counterpart. “His words had more value than an apology, they are the truth.”
Kagamé insists that “this visit is about the future, not the past. France and Rwanda will greatly improve their relations for the benefit of our peoples, economically, politically and culturally ”and to show how much the relationship between France and Rwanda is not a simple cooperation, Kagame said:“ But the relationship between our two countries will not be just conventional, there is a special familiarity that results from the terrible and complex history we share, for better or for worse, We wish to create a strong and lasting relationship, based on priorities that matter for the two of us, France and Rwanda ”.
The cost of the reconciliation.
• A trifle of investment
The Franco-Rwandan approach has indeed worked since 2019. The succinct balance sheet of this approach can be counted in millions of Euros given to Rwanda by France. Thus according to Emmanuel Macron, since 2019, France has given 230 million to Rwanda in various programs, especially health. Beside this there is an agreement of 500 million ranging from 2019-2023. Note that the press conference began with the signing of two bilateral agreements between France and Rwanda. In addition, President Macron came with investors in different areas.
• The justice file
This revival of diplomacy, moreover an ambassador will be quickly accredited to Kigali, must not jeopardize justice because initially it was the legal dispute that was the stumbling block between Kigali and Paris. As Macron says, “Recognizing this past also means, and above all, pursuing the work of justice, by committing ourselves to ensuring that no one suspected of crimes of genocide can escape the work of judges”. In this area Macron explained that there is always a need for synergy of judicial systems to finally facilitate complex legal proceedings, including the extradition of genocidaires. And on this point, the person in the crosshairs is Habyarimana’s widow, Mrs. Agathe Habyarimana.
• Opening of a Francophonie center
In Kigali, the French Embassy has a French institute, which is naturally a French school that delivers certifications in French. It is housed in the National Library at Kacyiru in Kigali. Macron’s visit leaves us with a gift of a center of the Francophonie, a mini-building that normally is not worthy of a large institution like the Center of Francophonie. But to see how Macron embraced Louise Mushikiwabo, Secretary General of the OIF, we deduct that there is a good complicity which allows us to hope that this center will grow to give back to the country of Thousand Hills this multicultural atmosphere where the French and the English will jointly contribute to complete the training of Rwandan youth.
“On this path, only those who have lived through the night can, perhaps, forgive; give us the gift, then forgive us. Ndibuka, ndibuka, ndibuka “, Emmanuel Macron said before concluding his speech by saying” And this is the call that I am going to make. Let’s build new tomorrows together, let’s prepare future happy memories here for our children. This is the sense of the tribute that I want to pay to those whom we will remember, who have been deprived of a future, and to whom we owe it to invent one “.
Thus together, a new page between France and Rwanda is opened, a common look into the future without erasing the bitter past for the sake of a bright future. It remains to be seen whether today’s visit really constitutes a page written with good faith or whether it was the motives of the moment that transformed Paul Kagame’s roars like those of a wounded lion into the cooing of a brooding dove. What can guarantee us that it is not just an embellishment like that of Sarkozy in 2010. Because Sarkozy also accepted the responsibilities of Paris but it did not last. Or do we hope that the major continental projects will perhaps serve as fuel to this friendship which begins with a notorious revolt of Kagame or hope, as he says that Kagame that “only the sky constitutes the limit” to this Franco-Rwandan concord! But the Rwandan opposition sees badly this revival of Paris diplomacy with Kigali. It overtly jeopardizes the values of “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity”. Because in fact the massacres, the kidnappings, the massive violation of human rights constitute the daily lot of the RPF regime.