Rwanda cuts diplomatic ties with France in wake of Kagame trial bid

[JURIST] The government of Rwanda cut diplomatic ties with France Friday in protest at a French judge's recommendation that Rwandan President Paul Kagame [official website] face trial [JURIST report] in connection with the 1994 downing of a plane carrying then-President Juvenal Habyariman [Wikipedia profile], whose death triggered a genocide that killed over 800,000 people. French anti-terrorism judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere [BBC profile] also issued arrest warrants against nine top Rwanda officials on suspicion of involvement in the same incident. No warrant for Kagame's arrest was issued as he enjoys diplomatic immunity under French law. Rwandan Foreign Minister Charles Murigande told Reuters that the French ambassador to Rwanda has been ordered to leave the country in 24 hours and that other French diplomats were to be out in 72. The French Foreign Ministry has confirmed the break [press release, in French]. Earlier in the day Rwanda recalled its own ambassador from Paris [Reuters report] and issued a statement alleging that France was trying to overthrow its government. The Rwandan government claimed [press release] earlier in the week that the allegations were "an attempt to intimidate Rwanda using strong arm tactics and to use the superpower position to hide the truth of France’s involvement in genocide" in the wake of a Rwandan government probe [JURIST report] begun last month into accusations that France assisted the Hutu massacre of Tutsis.

Kagame has denied any involvement in the downing of his predecessor's plane and earlier in the week derided Bruguiere's tactics [JURIST report] as "bullying and arrogant." Friday's break of diplomatic ties came a day after a mass protest [JURIST report] against the French judge's orders by some 25,000 Rwandans gathered in a Kigali sports stadium. Reuters has more.

 

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