France was primarily responsible for the genocide in Rwanda but not complicit in the genocide in the African country that killed more than 800,000 people in a matter of months in 1994.
A committee of historians concludes this in a report ordered by President Emmanuel Macron two years ago.
The French government was “blind” to preparations for the massacres, according to historians. Paris, they said, “failed” to prevent the mass murder of the Tutsi minority and moderate Hutus.
Investigators note that France had a “serious and overwhelming” responsibility, noting the central role of the President François Mitterrand. He had close ties with the former president of Rwanda Juvénal Habyarimana, a Hutu. The genocide took place after the plane in which he and his counterpart Cyprien Ntaryamira from neighbouring Burundi were taken down with missiles.
Macron has given historians access to the presidential, diplomatic and military archives. They could also view those of the intelligence services. Principal investigator Vincent Duclert presented the report to Macron in the Elysée on Friday.
The report could ease tensions between France and Rwanda. Rwanda has long accused the French of complicity in the genocide. “We hope the report can lead to new developments in our relations with Rwanda and that the process of rapprochement is irreversible,” said Macron.