President Sarkozy has apologised for the behaviour of France and other countries during the Rwanda genocide of 1994. It is the first official visit to the country by a French president since the killings.
France had been heavily criticised for appearing to side with the Hutu government, who were carrying out the killings, when the Rwandan Patriotic Front, led by the current president Paul Kagame, started to wrest control of the country from them.
In 2006, Rwanda and France broke off diplomatic relations when a French judge accused President Kagame of being involved in shooting down a plane carrying the Hutu president Juvenal Habyarimana – the incident that sparked off the genocide. Kagame argues that the aircraft was shot down by Hutu extremists, who had certainly been enraged at what they regarded as Habyarimana’s over-conciliatory policy to Tutsis, and extremist Hutu media had been predicting the president’s death.
The Rwandan genocide was the fastest mass murder in history, with about 800,000 people killed in just 100 days. See also my blogs of 23 Jan, 1 and 4 March, 9 April, 16 July, 23 Sept, 8 and 30 Oct, 15 Dec - all 2009.