26 February 2010

Rwanda: Genocidaires Should Be Hunted Down and Punished - Sarkozy

Photo: The New Times
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and President Kagame address a joint press conference in Kigali.

Kigali — President Nicolas Sarkozy of France yesterday said that everyone who took part in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi should be hunted down and punished.

He said this while on a one-day visit to Rwanda where he held talks with President Paul Kagame at Urugwiro Village.

"There should be no ambiguity; we want all those responsible to be hunted down and punished, the tough-talking Sarkozy told a joint press conference after the meeting.

"I told President Kagame, that those who carried it out, wherever they are, must be found and punished. Are there any in France? It is up to justice to tell us".

He pointed out that France recently denied political asylum to one of them and that a judicial inquiry targeting others is currently ongoing.

Though Sarkozy did not officially apologise for whatever role his country played in the Genocide, he admitted that great mistakes were made that cost the lives of over a million people.

"There were serious errors of judgment. Political mistakes were committed here that absolutely had dramatic consequences," admitted the French President.

"What happened here was a failure by humanity, it left an indelible mark. What happened obliges the international community, including France, to reflect on the errors that made them fail to prevent and stop the heinous crime".

President Kagame thanked the French Head of State for his "openness" and the "frank dialogue" both have had in the past two years.

"Rwanda and France have had a difficult past, but we are here today to affirm a new partnership," said Kagame.

He revealed that they had discussed how both countries could foster a strong partnership for the future, and agreed to explore mutually beneficial opportunities in a number of sectors, including trade and investment, education and health as well as cultural exchanges.

"We look forward to a friendship based on mutual respect and close collaboration in pursuing our shared interests".

On the issue of Rwanda switching from French to English as the language of instruction in schools, President Kagame set the record straight, saying that it was not triggered by the collapse of diplomatic relations in 2006, but rather by the need for Rwanda 'to be the best it can be'.

"I want to make it clear, that in the first place, we did not stop teaching, learning or speaking French in Rwanda. In fact, we have not stopped our membership to the francophone family of nations. We are still members and want to continue being a member," he pointed out.

"We are basically ready to speak other languages including French and English. In fact there have been suggestions that we should maybe start learning Chinese".

President Sarkozy announced that he had personally invited President Kagame to a Franco-Africa summit that will be held in Nice mid this year.

"I think it is a great symbol of our reciprocal trust and our capability to turn the page It does not take away the pain, the mistakes or the difficulties, but it makes it possible to think about the future," underlined the French President.

Rwanda broke off diplomatic relations with France following a string of controversial and subsequently discredited indictments by a French judge against senior Rwandan officials in November 2006.

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