Rwandan President Paul Kagame, at a commemorative ceremony in Kigali, Rwanda, said France was partly to blame for the country’s 1990s genocide.
“The passage of time should not obscure the facts, lessen the responsibility or turn victims into villains,” Kagame said at the ceremony marking 20 years since the civil war that killed 800,000 people. His comments drew cheers from those attending the event in a Kigali stadium.
Allegations of French complicity in the genocide initiated a diplomatic disturbance in the days prior to the event, with Kagame telling a French magazine that French and Belgian soldiers -- who helped train the mostly-Hutu Rwandan army -- had been both accomplices and actors.
He spoke of “the direct role of Belgium and France in the political preparation of the genocide and the participation of the latter in its execution,” which killed minority members of the Tutsi tribe.
The French government has repeatedly denied the accusations and has insisted French forces attempted to protect civilians during the 100 days of slaughter.
France’s foreign ministry reacted angrily to Kagame’s magazine assertions, and cancelled plans to send a representative to the commemoration.