Rwanda, the tiny land-locked African country smaller than Switzerland, has accused France, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, of complicity in the killing of a million men, women and children in the genocide of 1994. The accusation was made in a report prepared over two years by Rwanda's public prosecutor, Jean Mucyo, who took testimony from 166 witnesses.
France has responded by condemning the report, presented at the end of last month, as "intolerable" - a charge duly echoed in its national press. Yet the French government has made no move to rebut the charges, while few in the media have made any effort to examine the testimony in any depth.
The fact is Rwanda's indictment has sent a shockwave through the Elysee Palace. The names of those implicated read like a Who's Who of the political establishment: 33
members of former President Francois Mitterrand's government and military, including ex-prime ministers Dominique de Villepin, Edouard Balladur and Alain Juppe, as well as generals and colonels.
The historical roots of the Rwandan atrocity go back to colonial times. After Rwanda gained independence from Belgium in 1962, the Hutu majority took over power. They blamed the minority Tutsis, who the Belgians had favoured with positions of influence, for the country's problems. Many Tutsis fled to neighbouring countries. During the late 1980s, Tutsi refugees in Uganda - including Rwanda's current President Paul Kagame - formed the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), an English-speaking armed group that plotted to overthrow Hutu President Juvenal Habyarimana and restore Tutsi influence.Mucyo's report emphasises the close links between the French army and the forces of Habyarimana, a Francophone. When the RPF launched an assault on Habyarimana's regime in October 1990, some French military advisors put on Rwandan uniforms.
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