by Lyu Tianran,
Mohammed M. Mupenda and Frank Kanyesigye KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua)
-- The Rwandan foreign minister’s
election as head of La Francophonie, with French support, is a
good sign for Rwanda-France ties, which have been bumpy over the
1994 Rwandan genocide, Rwandan experts said.
minister Louise Mushikiwabo was elected last week as the new
secretary general of the international organization of French
The grouping has 58 members and 26 observers which either
speak French or have had cultural or historical ties with
The French embassy in Rwanda congratulated Mushikiwabo and
her entire campaign team on her election, according to a media
French President Emmanuel Macron’s endorsement to
Mushikiwabo’s candidature is a good sign of improving bilateral
ties and mutual respect for both governments, said Ismael
Buchanan, dean of the School of Economics and Governance at the
University of Rwanda.
He said the relationship between the two countries is going
to improve as much as they can in terms of diplomatic and
economic ties, and that both countries will work together to
supporting Mushikiwabo’s agendas, including increasing the
influence of the French language.
Christopher Kayumba, senior lecturer of School of Journalism
and Communication at the University of Rwanda, also agreed that
France’s support for Mushikiwabo for the top position of the
French-speaking countries’ organization is a good sign for the
relations between Rwanda and France.
"Don’t be surprised if she (Mushikiwabo) leads quiet
diplomacy towards normalizing relations with France," since the
organization is headquartered in Paris, France, where
Mushikiwabo will work, said Kayumba.
France’s role during the April-July 1994 genocide in Rwanda
has for years been the subject of intense scrutiny and much
controversy, with both Paris and Kigali trying to pin
responsibility on the other for the genocide.
While Rwanda has repeatedly accused France of backing the
genocidal regime government, allegedly arming and training the
Hutu ethnic group perpetrators responsible for the mass murder
during genocide, France has denied the accusations of murder,
insisting its forces worked to protect the civilians.
Rwanda severed diplomatic relations with France in 2006
following the issue by a French judge of nine arrest warrants
against Rwandan officials in the case of the attack on the
aircraft of former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana in
April 1994, which triggered the 100-day genocide.
The central African country decided to restore diplomatic
relations with France in 2009. France has no ambassador to
Rwanda since the latest ambassador left the post in 2015.
Experts, however, said it takes time to fully mend the
"This (restoring the relationship) will not appear
overnight," said Emery Nzirabatinya, an international relations
Both countries ought to play their respective roles to ensure
that the relationship is of mutual interest, he said.
The main factor to move forward will be France’s willingness
to accept responsibility for the genocide and apologize, said
Until France owns up to its role in the genocide and takes
responsibility, it will be difficult to move the relations
forward, the scholar said.
The government of Rwanda still remains hopeful that France
may start a new chapter 24 years after the genocide regarding
its role during that period, Buchanan said.
The small African country’s victory in the election could
help foster its new international identity and promote the
country’s interests on the global arena, experts say.
Rwanda, which joined the Commonwealth in 2009 following its
government’s decision to change the medium of education from
French to English in 2008, is expected to benefit more from its
multiple identities in regional and international organizations
following Mushikiwabo’s election, they say.
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