The France ambassadorial vacuum in Rwanda lingers

On 23 July 2019 at 11:06

It is now four years since France last had an ambassador in Kigali. Michel Flesch was the last envoy to Rwanda who left the country in 2015 but has not been replaced since then.

France diplomatic missions to Rwanda are currently assumed by Chargé d’Affaires.
Flesch left Rwanda at a time when both countries’ relations were souring over political tensions.

Before the departure of Ambassador Flesch, France had proposed Fred Constant who was at the time France Ambassador to the Caribbean and Guyana Islands.

His approval kept pending for over one year until he was re-appointed to Equatorial Guinea.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Amb. Olivier Nduhungirehe yesterday received new Chargé d’Affaires, Jérémie Blin representing France in Kigali and held discussions aimed at promoting bilateral relations. The latter replaces Etienne de Souza.

IGIHE has asked Amb Nduhungirehe why France is sending Chargé d’Affaires to represent its interests instead of a new ambassador.

“When the right time comes, France will appoint an ambassador. We are also ready to assess the request but both countries are enjoying good relations. It means what happened in the past is no longer happening,” he said.

Rwanda, France relations worsened in the past following the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi where Rwanda accused the country of supporting the genocidaire Government while France in return accused some of the top Rwandan officials to have shot the airplane of former President, Juvénal Habyarimana.

Both countries’ relations were restored in 2017 when Emmanuel Macron was elected France President, introducing reforms in foreign relations.

Last year, France prosecution canceled investigations in Habyarimana plane crush for lack of evidence.

In March 2019, President Macron commissioned a team of experts to carry out deeper investigations on France role during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Speaking to IGIHE, Nduhungirehe has said that Rwanda is not behind rejecting approvals of new France ambassadors.

“We have never rejected an appointment. They have never sent anyone. President Macron himself said it last year that we are currently putting in efforts to normalize relations that they will appoint an ambassador at the right time,” he said.

Rwanda, France diplomatic relations date back in 1962 after obtaining Independence.
Last year, the chief executive officer of the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) came to Rwanda and assured continued collaboration in development projects. The CEO of the institution had last been to Rwanda in 1992.

Since 1962, France has sent 16 ambassadors. to Rwanda.

The president Paul Kagame with the President Emmanuel Macron
The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Amb. Olivier Nduhungirehe received new Chargé d’Affaires, Jérémie Blin representing France in Kigali