Sunday, December 09, 2018

Yesterday Enemies, Today They Shake Hands

Credit: Georges Bastion
Sarkozy and Kagame addressing the audience in Paris

Kagame's visit to Paris is a new historical page after a long period of misunderstanding about the Rwandan genocide of 1994.

Kagame and Sarkozy, respectively presidents of Rwanda and France have shaken hands with smiles on their faces. Both presidents will hold face to face discussion about the future of their countries this Monday. This shows a good sign for both leaders who have been apart for ages. The contact between these leaders was cut as Rwanda repeatedly accused France for having strongly supported the Interahamwe Militia and the FDLR who committed the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. In addition, Rwanda has demonstrated black on white that France was also involved in supporting the Interahamwe with arms and other war tools. This genocide raises controversial figures as for the number of the people who were slaughtered in the 30 days it lasted. For Rwanda, more than 1000 000 Rwandans were killed in this awful event, namely Tutsi and moderate Hutu. For the UN, 800 000 people were killed in this period. No matter the number of the people killed, the genocide took place and it swept several lives of people, nationals and foreigners both combined but the majority were nationals of course.

It should be reminded that Sarkozy was the first to break the silence with Rwanda when he visited Kigali in 2009. This was a good way to boost a reconciliation process for both nations. As Kagame vists Paris, he told a gathering of Rwandan expats in Paris last night that he was keen to move the relationship ahead and renew their relations for a better future. He noted that there are still people who are against this evolution in the relations between France and Rwandan. He declared that both states have gone beyond this type of politics, which is contemptible and destructive. The visit of Kagame in Rwanda did not please many.

It is in this context that two exiled Rwandan opposition parties said that they will demonstrate against Kagame’s visit to France. They said they are organising to demonstrate their anger today 12 and tomorrow 13 September 2011. They argued that this demonstration means they oppose Kagame who has been forwarding his troops and other death squads to hunt down opponents in different countries abroad.

Both the United Democratic Forces-UDF and the Rwandan National Congress-RNC are based in France and are even well recognised. They revealed that they will mobilise exiles in France and Belgium for a protest outside the headquarters of the French bosses’ union, Medef this September 13.

These parties are convinced they will persuade entrepreneurs not to do business with Rwanda while it is ruled by Kagame. The reason for such an opposition is that, for them, Kagame is killing some of their members here and there and hunt down their brothers who are refugees and opponent abroad.

This said, the UDF is run by a Hutu, Victoire Ingabaire. This lady came to Rwanda last year to lead her campaign for presidential elections but unfortunately, she was arrested for fomenting a rebellion, causing insecurity to the country and collaborating with the genocidaires to cause terror in the country. This made her arrest be done; she has been in jail since October 2010 and her case of terror charges is still going on. The RNC was set up by former Kagame allies, including former chief of staff General Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa, who lives in South Africa where he escaped an assassination and survived death last year.

Many French generals and politicians are still unhappy with Rwanda after being pointed at by Kigali of teaming up with Rwanda's previous genocidal regime in its massacre of around 800,000 mainly ethnic Tutsis living on the Rwandan territory. In Paris, a senior official in Sarkozy's office insisted that they are well informed that this visit will not please some individuals, but the president has decided to turn the page on France's painful relations with Rwanda. However, it is still not clear whether Sarkozy's own Foreign Minister, Alain Juppé, approves of the improving relationship. He was personally accused of complicity in the genocide in Rwanda's Mucyo Inquiry report. Juppé has chosen to tour the Pacific rim, while Kagame is in Paris. He said he can’t shake his hand unless he is cleaned of all accustations Kigali puts on him. Meanwhile French generals have described the Kagame visit as an insult to the honour of the French armed forces, and they have called for the withdrawal of the Mucyo inquiry report, which they brand a lie.

During colonisation, Rwanda was under the Belgian protectorate, and the old French-speaking regime had close ties with Paris. At the advent of RPF with Kagame, things changed; the country’s official language was changed from French to English and this made Kigali be very close to London and Washington. However Rwanda expert Andre Guichaoua notes that both Rwanda and France need to turn on to the next page of their history as they now have much to gain from a reconciliation for a better future.

This said, it comes true that Paris is doing all its best possible to keep up its influence in this part of Africa. In politics, there are no enemies; there are only opponents. This bilateral visit is a good way to revive the relations of both countries. There is no need to keep up grudges but rather see ways to move forward and so make a new life. Political diplomacy means that the enemies of yesterday become today’s best friends. We wish both countries to renew openly their ties, which benefits for both nations in the future.

About the Writer

MUGISHO N.THEOPHILE is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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2 comments on Yesterday Enemies, Today They Shake Hands

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By joshuaallen on September 14, 2011 at 12:59 pm

I strongly agree with your premise, the two nations indeed need to move on...heck if Israel and Germany could do it anyone can. The difference though, is France unlike Germany has yet to take full responsibility for their failings and backing the murderers, probably because they were the side that spoke French. Sarkozy has made a good start. He has to walk a tough road in keeping his own party in good standing and,...well speaking about the truth. Thank you for an important article!

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By MUGISHO N.THEOPHILE on September 15, 2011 at 02:01 am

Joshaallen, your comment is wonderful. For sure, in order for people to move forward and turn an old page, they have to see further about how to make a bright future. We have to forgive, though we can't forget the hurts of the past. But in remembering the past pains, we decide never to involve in what caused them to exist. Thank you as well, dear friend.

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