Former French Premier grants public access to Genocide archives

On 6 January 2021 at 06:33

Former French premier Edouard Balladur said Monday that he would grant public access to archives concerning his government’s actions during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, AFP has reported.

Balladur, a rightwing premier under Francois Mitterrand’s Socialist presidency, said in a statement that he opened access "so that everyone can freely see what were our actions and their results".

Access will be granted in April, when a panel of historians will submit their findings on France’s role during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi which claimed lives of more than 1 million victims.

President Emmanuel Macron commissioned the panel in April 2019 amid claims by Rwandans that France supported genocidaires.

They point in particular to Operation Turquoise, a UN-mandated French force sent to halt the killings in June 1994 but which many experts say had little effect.

In his statement, Balladur, who served as premier between 1993 and 1995, insisted that Turquoise had a mandate to ensure the survival of victims on all sides and discourage violence.

Hugues Hourdin, a former advisor to Balladur, told AFP the documents "will show that neither the government nor the army has anything to blame itself for".

"Mr Balladur would like to remove all doubts about the actions of the government he led, and purge this debate that has been festering for 25 years," he said.

France’s Rwanda commission has already had access to the archives of both Balladur and Mitterrand.

Macron’s decision to form the panel was seen as a groundbreaking effort to confront France’s troubled history in Africa.

While Rwanda was never a French colony, successive French governments cultivated close ties after the country’s independence in 1962, including training its top military leaders.

It also signed military deals with the then President Juvenal Habyarimana.

The fact that France denied its role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi has long impaired relations between the two countries.

As former France President Nicolas Sarkozy visited Kigali genocide memorial in 2010, he admitted that his country committed political mistakes in Rwanda which he didn’t explain.

Things worsened during the leadership of President François Hollande until he was replaced by Emmanuel Macron giving hope to shed light into the country’s involvement in genocide.

In 2018, President Paul Kagame visited France on the invitation of his counterpart Macron.

After meeting in Paris with his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame, Macron said he supported a bid to appoint Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo as secretary general of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF).

"The Rwandan foreign minister has every competence to carry out this role," Macron said. "I will support her."

In April 2019, Macron unveiled the establishment of the commission made of experts in history and researchers analyzing writings kept in archives of the country indicating France activities in Rwanda between 1990-1994 to come up with the truth on the role of France in the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.

In 2016, the National Commission for the Fight against Genocide (CNLG) released names of 22 France soldiers who took role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Former French premier Edouard Balladur.