Thursday, January 18, 2007

France again

I’m sure that the spat between France and Rwanda has all but been forgotten in the UK and probably in France, but certainly not here. Here are some examples of what is happening (and I would certainly not claim to be up-to-date with Rwandan politics, living on the very perimeter of the country as I do).
• The “New Times”, very close to the government, has been serialising for about a month a book about France’s role in the genocide. This was written by a westerner and is very critical of France for a whole number of reasons
• I was at a meeting where an army officer alleged that France was spreading rumours about all Rwanda’s gorillas dying of Ebola in order to spread despondency about the future of this important tourism income. (In fact there was a scientific study by some Americans postulating that one factor in the decline of gorilla populations in Africa could be Ebola epidemics).
• News stories like this abound -
I’m reading Romeo Dallaire’s book (*) about the genocide and it is clear that the antipathy between the RPF (now the ruling party) and France predates 1994 by some considerable time and has many strands. This story is going to run for a long time, because it does seem that France has a lot of things it would rather were not in the public domain and there are powerful forces in Rwanda who have a strong motivation for keeping the attack on France very much alive. Like all motives, there are both pure and not so pure sources for this.

(*) “Shake Hands with the devil” -

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