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France to boycott Rwanda genocide commemoration

French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira has called off her visit to Rwanda's genocide commemoration
French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira has called off her visit to Rwanda's genocide commemoration Reuters

France has pulled out of the 20th anniversary commemorations for the Rwandan genocide after Rwanda's President Paul Kagame accused Paris of participating in the 1994 mass killings.

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Foreign ministry spokesperson Romain Nadal said France was "surprised" by Kagame's accusation, which went against reconciliation efforts between the two countries and announced that Justice Minister Christiane Taubira would not attend Monday's

commemorations in Kigali, as previously planned.

In an interview with Jeune Afrique magazine published Sunday, Kagame accused French soldiers in the south of the former Belgian colony of being both accomplices and "actors" in the bloodbath.

Paris has repeatedly denied the accusations and insisted that French forces triedto protect civilians.

The French are shocked by Kagame's statements, given that relations have improved between the two countries since the election of Nicolas Sarkozy as president in 2007.

Under his foreign affairs minister Bernard Kouchner, Paris admitted having made serious errors in its reaction to the 1994 killing of Hutu Rwandan president Juvénal Habyarimana, the genocide that followed and the coming to power of Kagame's Rwandan Patriotic Front.

"Is Rwanda preparing to make new revelations on [the French military operation] Turquoise?" asks RFI's website in French. "Is the country annoyed beucase it has not received an official apology from France 20 years after the events?"

Although Kagame also accused Belgium of complicity in the atrocites, the country's representatives will attend the commemoration ceremony, Foreign Affairs Minister Didier Reynders said on Sunday.

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