Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Trying To Erase The Past

Rwanda is asking the International Court of Justice to quash arrest warrants issued by France, for nine senior members of the country's regime. They're all accused of being involved in the killing of the country's former President in a plane crash back in 1994 - the incident that sparked off the terrible genocide. The warrants were issued late last year, and have made it harder for the Rwandan government to do its job, because the accused aren't able to travel abroad.

On the face of it, France is only doing any of this because the plane's crew were French, and their relatives have been pursuing the matter through the French courts. But in trying to blame President Paul Kagame and his colleagues for being behind the incident (admittedly it prompted the chain of events that brought them to power - although not before hundreds of thousands of people were massacred), France seems to be trying to erase its own shameful past. At worst, France was complicit in all those deaths, because of the government's failure to stop arms shipments to Rwanda even when it was clear trouble was brewing, plus its refusal to step in (as, you could argue, the former colonial power ought to have done) once the killing started. France should stop its legal vendetta against Kagame and the others, and should let the Rwandans get on with governing Rwanda.

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