French President Macron arrives in Rwanda for maiden visit

On 27 May 2021 at 06:31

President Emmanuel Macron has arrived at Kigali International Airport becoming the second French President to visit the Country of Thousand Hills after the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.

Macron comes to Rwanda following the visit of Nicolas Sarkozy on 25th February 2010.

Upon arrival at the airport today morning, Macron has been welcomed by Rwanda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Vincent Biruta. He was along with Rwanda’s ambassador in France, Dr. François Xavier Ngarambe; Jeremie Blin, the Chargé d’ Affaires in the French Embassy in Rwanda and French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Dria among other top officials.

He was later welcomed at Urugwiro Village by his counterpart of Rwanda, President Paul Kagame.

Macron is in Rwanda for two-day official visit on 27th and 28th May 2021.

Macron is expected to visit Kigali Genocide Memorial and officiate the launch of French Cultural Center.

His visit to Rwanda is the first in East Africa.

The Centre he is expected to launch is located near Kigali Convention Center, Kimihurura Sector, Gasabo District. The center was initially expected to be inaugurated in 2020 but construction activities delayed and were completed in April 2021 due to COVID-19.

The former French Cultural Center building used to be called ‘Centre D’Echanges Culturels Franco-Rwandais’ and was located in Kiyovu, nearby the city center’s main roundabout.

It was closed in 2014 by Kigali City Officials because the structure was not in line with the new City Master Plan.

The centre had a library and other activities including French language teaching; Culture-based training and concerts among others.

Since 2014, the cultural center office was in France’s Embassy in Rwanda, where its activities like entertainment and book reading were held in Kigali Public Library and the Goethe Institut in Nyarugenge District.

Macron comes to Rwanda at a time when both countries have embarked on a new chapter to revitalize wavered relations over the role France is accused to have played during the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.

Rwanda, France relations have been on good progress since Macron took office in 2017.

The latter has demonstrated willingness to change France, Africa foreign policy and building strong relations with partners unlike his predecessor, François Hollande.

Recently on 26th March 2021, the expert commission comprised of French historians commissioned by Macron released ‘Duclert’ report which revealed that France bears "heavy and overwhelming responsibilities" over tragic history that led to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi which took lives of over 1 million victims.

The report was presented two years, after the delegation of 13 historians started reviewing archives on France, Rwanda relations between 1990 and 1994.

The report blames the then French President, François Mitterrand, for a "failure" of policy towards Rwanda in 1994. The findings were made public after years of French official secrecy over links to the Government led by Juvenal Habyarimana.

President Macron appointed the 15-member commission two years ago, giving them access to presidential, diplomatic, military and intelligence archives.

Among the archives are those of Mitterrand, who had close ties to former Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana.

Rwanda, France diplomatic relations date back in 1962 after obtaining Independence.