Emmanuel Macron Says France Could Have Stopped the Rwandan Genocide

Mohammed Badra/Reuters
Mohammed Badra/Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday that France and its allies “could have stopped” the horrific Rwandan genocide of 1994 and spared hundreds of thousands of lives but “lacked the will to do so.”

The comments come just before the 30th anniversary of the horrific slayings of as many as 800,000 civilians between April 7 and July 15 at the heart of the Rwandan civil war.

In a statement Thursday, Macron’s office said the president will release an already-recorded video message Sunday to address his predecessors’ shortcomings and to honor those slain.

In that video, Macron’s office said he will say, “France, which could have stopped the genocide with its Western and African allies, lacked the will to do so.”

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Citing an official close to Macron, Agence France-Presse reported that the president will emphasize that “when the phase of total extermination against the Tutsis began, the international community had the means to know and act” but chose not to.

France was Rwanda’s closest ally prior the genocide and has long been accused by Rwandan officials of enabling the massacre of the Tutsi people there. Macron addressed his countrymen’s shortcomings in a 2021 visit to Rwanda, saying then that he acknowledged France’s “responsibility” in the genocide.

Macron will not make the trip to Rwanda to commemorate the anniversary of the atrocities but has reportedly called on Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne to attend the proceedings alongside Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

In the clip, obtained by France 24, Macron will say that a million people were slain in the genocide—a figure Rwanda uses in its constitution but which a majority of experts say is too high. The real number of those slain is estimated to be between 500,000 and 800,000, a still staggering figure.

“France stands by Rwanda and the Rwandan people, in memory of the 1 million children, women and men martyred because they were born Tutsi,” Macron will say in the clip, France 24 reported.

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