French president, Emmanuel Macron on Thursday asked that his country (France) be forgiven by Rwanda, over its role in the 1994 mass killings.

EyewitnessMedia gathered that Macron who made the plea during a solemn speech at the Kigali Genocide Memorial, where 250,000 victims of the mass killings are buried.

Macron said France recognised its “responsibility” in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, asking for forgiveness for his country’s role.

He said France did not listen to those who warned it about the impending massacre in Rwanda and stood de facto by a “genocidal regime”.

“Standing here today, with humility and respect, by your side, I have come to recognise our responsibilities,” he said, adding, however, that France “was not an accomplice” to the genocide.

Macron said France had a duty to admit the “suffering it inflicted on the Rwandan people by too long valuing silence over the examination of the truth”.

He added that only those who had survived the horrors “can maybe forgive; give us the gift of forgiveness”.

“His words were something more valuable than an apology. They were the truth,” he told a joint press conference after the two leaders met in Kigali.

Some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by Hutu militias in 100 days of bloodletting that began in April 1994. The genocide ended in July 1994 when the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), led by current President Kagame, swept in from Uganda and seized control of the country.

While Macron’s comments went further than his predecessors, many in Rwanda were hoping for a full apology.

Ibuka, the country’s main genocide survivor group, said it was disappointed did not “present a clear apology”. Egide Nkuranga, president of the association, said Macron did not “ask forgiveness”, but he “really tried to explain the genocide, how it happened, what they didn’t do, their responsibilities … It’s very important, it shows that he understands us.”

Macron’s visit follows the release in March of a report by a French inquiry panel that said a colonial attitude had blinded French officials and the government bore a “serious and overwhelming” responsibility for not foreseeing the slaughter. However, the report absolved France of direct complicity in the killings.


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