France’s president Emmanuel Macron proposed an annual day of commemoration for the Rwanda genocide on Sunday April 7th, as the African nation marked 25 years since the massacres of its minority Tutsi community.
And Macron went on to express his "solidarity with the Rwandan people and his compassion for the victims and their families" in a statement that proposed April 7th as an annual remembrance day in France.
He drew criticism from some activists for failing to attend the start of commemoration events in Rwanda on Sunday, April 7th, instead sending a personal envoy, a Rwandan-born French MP Herve Berville, who was orphaned in the 1993 violence.
Meanwhile, a Rwandan victims' group, Ibuka France, hailed Macron's announcement of a national Rwanda genocide day, and added that it had suggested the idea during a meeting with the 41-year-old leader last week.
"My reaction is one of satisfaction," the head of the group, Marcel Kabanda, said before adding that he hoped France would now reflect introspectively about its role in the massacres.
"It's not the French population fundamentally, but the political elite that needs to talk about it more. It will take time but it's a new phase," he told AFP.
The genocide has cast a long shadow over Franco-Rwandan relations.
The current president of Rwanda is Paul Kagame, a Tutsi, who accused France of having supported the ethnic Hutu forces behind most of the slaughter, and of helping some of the perpetrators to escape.
On Friday, April 5th, Macron announced the creation of a commission of historians and researchers who will delve into the French state's archives in a move intended to set the historical record straight.