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The East African : July 7th 2014
12 WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO RECONCILE? Rwanda, France relations remain frosty P≥esident Kagame has ≥uled out a quick fix to the st≥ained ≥elations that have lasted 20 yea≥s By EDMUND KAGIRE The EastAfrican years after the 1994 genocide, despite several attempts to reconcile them. As Rwanda marked 20 years of T liberation last week, debate raged on in Paris on whether France should open the “genocide archives” — and for the first time allow the world to see the role it played during the genocide; meanwhile, in Kigali, President Paul Kagame ruled out a quick fix to the strained relations. He said that the problems be- tween Kigali and Paris could not be resolved in meetings, insisting that, as long as France refused to accept responsibility and apologise for complicity in the 1994 genocide, relations between the two countries would remain frosty. “If the problems between Rwanda and France were to be resolved by meetings, then by now we would have resolved all of them. But it seems it’s not just meetings that resolve problems. I think more needs to be happening,” President Kagame told journalists. The meetings have not addressed the root cause of the ongoing disagreements, which in principle are about France’s complicity in the genocide. The two countries have cut diplomatic ties on several occasions over the past two decades over the issue. According to President Kagame, while Rwanda has been sincere about talking over the problems and opening a new page, the French have remained “defensive” and “in denial.” In France, in the course of a de- bate themed: Rwanda: Reflections on the last genocide of the 20th century, François Leotard, who was the French minister of defence during the genocide period, said he would support a move to make some of France’s genocide archives public to clarify his country’s position. Mr Leotard said he was proud of Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy. Relations between the two countries have remained strained for the past twenty years. Picture: File France’s “intervention and achievements” during the military operation dubbed Operation Turquoise and that there was nothing to apologise for. But President Kagame asked why it took the French so long to discuss opening of the archives, which have remained secret for 20 years. Recent meeting In May, President Kagame met French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius in Libreville, Gabon, a month after his remarks on the French role in the genocide angered Paris, prompting a French government delegation to cancel a trip to Kigali to take part in the 20th commemoration of the 1994 genocide. During the meeting in Gabon, ac- cording to a government statement, President Kagame and Mr Fabius “It seems it’s not just meetings that resolve problems. I think more needs to be happening.” Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame discussed the state of bilateral relations and “agreed to step up exchanges and hold more regular consultation at the level of ministers of foreign affairs in order to improve dialogue.” Since November 2009, Rwanda and France have tried to repair damaged relations but these attempts have been hampered by a series of events mainly stemming from remarks and accusations from Kigali levelled at the French government and former officials. During the forum — organised by the RBF-France-Forum de la Memoire (Remembrance Forum), a French civil society group — Mr Leotard did not come close to admitting French involvement and complicity in the genocide. But his former colleague and also a former minister of foreign affairs, Bernard Kouchner, who appeared on the same panel, said that France may have committed “political mistakes” but these did not amount to abating the genocide. The debate, which took place in the country’s Senate, left anti-genocide activists in France dissatisfied and angry. Alain Gauthier, a leading activist, said the public debate he enmity between Rwanda and France continues to fester 20 The EastAfrican NEWS JULY 5-11,2014 Tanzania faces p≥obe by Unesco By ADAM IHUCHA Special Correspondent THE UNITED Nations is weighing claims that Tanzania secretly approved the construction of a large hotel in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCAA) — a World Heritage Site. The residents of the area have petitioned Unesco and the UN body has requested Tanzania to provide information on the matter. Abdoul Wahab Coulibaly, officer in charge of the Unesco office in Tanzania, said “We have reported the issue to Unesco headquarters in Paris and they have promised to request information from the state.” Nicole Bolomey, a culture and STRAINED RELATIONS ROOT CAUSE: The meetings have not addressed the root cause of the ongoing disagreements, which in principle are about France’s complicity in the genocide. The two countries have cut diplomatic ties on several occasions over the past two decades over the issue. ATTEMPTS: Since November 2009, Rwanda and France have tried to repair damaged relations but these attempts have been hampered by a series of events mainly stemming from remarks and accusations from Kigali levelled at the French government and former officials. fell short of bringing out Paris’s role in the genocide. Rwanda’s anger at Paris seems unrelenting, despite attempts by France to court its former African ally into friendly relations. In one of the most recent developments, the government repossessed Frenchowned prime land in the city centre that was formerly occupied by the French Cultural Centre. The historical facility is currently being demolished by the City of Kigali. The demolition came after the French proved reluctant to develop the prime land by constructing a new high rise facility in line with the Kigali City Masterplan. development consultant with the UN agency, said that the construction of a hotel would be detrimental to Ngorongoro, and would see it put on Unesco’s list of World Heritage Sites in danger. But Adam Akiyoo Ngorongoro, NCAA senior public relations officer, said that no hotel construction would take place within the conservation area without an environmental impact assessment. NCAA mandate The NCAA is legally bound to oversee conservation, tourism and take care of the Maasai population living within the area. However, the issue comes hardly two months after President Jakaya Kikwete banned the construction of more hotels in Ngorongoro Crater — a key feature in the northern tourism circuit — over conservation grounds. The world’s largest unbroken volcanic caldera, which falls under the jurisdiction of the NCAA, is currently under pressure as investors scramble to build hotels. As a result, Unesco raised the red flag on the area’s ecology, citing increased human activities such as hotels, cultivation, humans and livestock populations within the fragile ecosystem as a major threat. “To protect the ecosystem, there will be no more construction of new hotels within the crater,” said President Kikwete, adding that building of hotels should be done outside the area.
June 30th 2014
July 14th 2014