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Macron appoints team to investigate French action during Rwandan genocide

Philippe Wojazer, AFP | French President Emmanuel Macron meets representatives of the Ibuka association for the memory of Rwanda's genocide at the Elysee Palace on April 5, 2019.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday appointed a panel of experts to investigate France's actions in Rwanda during the country's genocide 25 years ago, a subject that has dogged Franco-Rwandan relations since the 1994 massacres.

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The commission of eight researchers and historians "will be tasked with consulting all France's archives relating to the genocide [...] in order to analyse the role and engagement of France during that period," the presidency said in a statement.

The commission will look at the period from 1990 to 1994 to "contribute to a better understanding and knowledge of the genocide of Tutsis," the statement said.

The findings will enrich material used to teach people in France about the genocide, it added.

Rwanda has accused France of being complicit in the genocide of an estimated 800,000 mostly ethnic Tutsis through its support for the Hutu-led government of the day.

It also accuses the French forces who were stationed in Rwanda under a UN mandate of having helped some of the perpetrators to escape, with some seeking sanctuary in France.

Turning a blind eye: documents suggest France allowed genocide suspects to flee

Paris has consistently denied complicity in the bloodletting, which has cast a long shadow over Franco-Rwandan relations, leading Rwanda at one point to break off ties for three years.

>> Watch FRANCE 24’s interview with Rwandan President Paul Kagame

Relations have improved in the past decade, though Macron caused disappointment among genocide survivors by turning down an invitation to attend this weekend's genocide commemorations in Rwanda.

In December 2018, France dropped a longstanding investigation into nine Rwandan officials in connection with the April 6, 1994 plane crash that killed then-president Juvenal Habyarimana and triggered the massacres.

>> New witness emerges in 1994 downing of Rwandan president's plane

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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