Kigali, Rwanda | Xinhua | Visiting French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday recognized France’s responsibilities in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide against the Tutsi during his speech at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, the final resting place for more than 250,000 genocide victims.
“As I stand with humility and respect at your side on this day, I come to recognize the magnitude of our responsibilities,” he said, after laying a wreath for the victims at the memorial.
He also called on others, alongside France, to open all their archives during the period of the genocide, following a commission’s work that found out France bears the burden of “heavy responsibilities” in the genocide that claimed more than 1 million lives, mainly ethnic Tutsis.
Vincent Duclert, head historian of the commission set up by Macron, presented its report to the latter in Paris in March, which was welcomed by the government of Rwanda, saying it “represents an important step toward a common understanding” of France’s role in the genocide.
“This journey of recognition, through our debts, our donations, offers us a hope to come out of this night and to walk together again. On this path, only those who have gone through the night can perhaps forgive, make us the gift of forgiving us,” he said, adding that youths from France and Rwanda can have a united alliance by not erasing anything from the past.
Macron arrived in Rwanda on Thursday morning for a two-day state visit, the first visit by a sitting French president in eleven years to the central African nation.
The last visit was by then French President Nicolas Sarkozy in February 2010. Macron’s visit was also the second visit of a French president since the genocide, which has caused damage to the relations between the two countries that used to be close.
Before departing for Rwanda, Macron said in a tweet, “I have a deep conviction we are going to write together a new page in our relationship with Rwanda and Africa.”
Upon his arrival at the Kigali International Airport, Macron was received by Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta and other government officials.
The Elysee Palace said Friday that the French president will name an ambassador to Rwanda in a final step to normalize diplomatic relations between the two countries, a post that has been vacant since 2015.
A francophone cultural center is also expected to be inaugurated by Macron after a seven-year closure.