Rwanda and France hold talks in Gabon in tense times
Publish Date: May 23, 2014
Rwanda and France hold talks in Gabon in tense times
Kigali (middle) hosted African leaders before flying off to Gabon.
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LIBREVILLE - Rwanda's President Paul Kagame went into private talks with France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Friday in the wings of a development forum in Gabon, a source close to the Gabonese presidency said.
The two men shook hands following weeks of newly strained ties two decades after the Rwandan genocide, according to an AFP journalist attending the third New York Forum Africa in Libreville.
Relations between Paris and Kigali soured -- not for the first time -- when Kagame early in April accused both France and the former colonial power Belgium of playing "a direct role in the preparation of the genocide" in 1994, in an interview.
Kagame, who was the rebel leader of the mainly ethnic Tutsi Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) when the mass killings of mostly minority Tutsis at the hands of Hutu troops and militias began on April 7, 1994, has blamed France for providing military assistance to the Hutu regime that launched the killings.
The small central African country last April staged a series of special commemorative events 20 years after the start of three months of massacres in which at least 80,000 people were slaughtered.
But in light of Kagame's renewed accusations, after a reconciliation in 2010, France cancelled a ministerial visit and Rwanda in turn barred the French ambassador from attending ceremonies.
French troops had intervened from 1990 to 1993 to help the Rwandan army fight Kagame's RPF, which is in power today. Then in June 1994, France single-handedly sent troops back in "Operation Turquoise", with a UN mandate to protect civilians from the bloodshed.
However, the Kigali government has charged that under cover of this military operation, officials responsible for the genocide were able to flee the RPF across the border into Zaire, today the Democratic Republic of Congo, with impunity.
Kagame has effectively run Rwanda since the RPF put an end to the bloodletting, first as vice-president and defence minister from 1994 to 2000, and since as head of state, winning his first presidential election in 2003.
The New York Africa Forum has brought several hundred participants from varying backgrounds including the arts, economics and academic posts to Gabon's capital for a series of conferences on the future of the continent's development.

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