President Macron says France and its allies 'could have stopped' the 1994 Rwanda genocide

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PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday that France and its allies could have stopped the 1994 Rwanda genocide but lacked the will to do so, a strong declaration ahead of the African country's 30th anniversary of the slaughter that left over 800,000 people dead.

Macron’s office said in a statement that the French president will release a video on social media on Sunday as Rwanda marks the solemn commemoration of the genocide.

In the video, Macron says that “France, which could have stopped the genocide with its Western and African allies, lacked the will to do so.”

In 2021 during a visit to the central African country, Macron acknowledged France’s “responsibility” in the genocide that left over 800,000 people dead, mainly ethnic Tutsis and the Hutus who tried to protect them.

He stopped short of an apology, but Rwandan President Paul Kagame signaled that a page had been turned in France-Rwanda ties, following a series of French efforts to repair ties between the two countries.

The Rwandan government has long accused France of “enabling” the genocide.

Since he was first elected in 2017, Macron notably commissioned a report about France’s role before and during the genocide and decided to open the country’s archives from this period to the public.

In Sunday’s video, Macron will recall that when the genocide started, “the international community had the means to know and to take actions” based on the knowledge about genocides that had been revealed by survivors of the Armenian genocide and the Holocaust, his office said.

Macron will reaffirm that “France stands by Rwanda and the Rwandan people, in memory of the one million children, women and men martyred because they were born Tutsi,” according to his office.

Macron’s office said France will be represented by Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné at the commemoration of the genocide scheduled on Sunday in Kigali, the French president himself being held back in France by World War II commemorations that day.

In recent years, France has also increased efforts to arrest genocide suspects and send them to trial.

A Rwandan doctor was sentenced in December by a Paris court to 24 years in prison in what was the sixth case related to the Rwandan genocide that came to court in France, all of them in the past decade.