France partly declassifies Rwanda archives, but key files stay secret

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Earlier this week it was announced that hitherto secret French presidential archives relating to the 1994 Rwanda genocide were to be declassified. The documents are records from the presidency of the late François Mitterrand, and cover France’s close relations with the Rwandan regime of president Juvénal Habyarimana, whose assassination 21 years ago sparked the state-sponsored massacres that claimed the lives of more than 800,000 people. France’s role before and during the genocide remains controversial, amid speculation that it provided weapons support and protection of those who perpetrated the slaughter. But, writes Mediapart’s international affairs correspondent Thomas Cantaloube, while the move this week to declassify Mitterrand’s archives appeared to be one of belated transparency, they promise few revelations beyond previous leaks, while the key archives about France’s involvement in Rwanda held by the defence and foreign affairs ministries remain strictly secret.

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The French presidential office, the Elysée Palace, caused a degree of surprise on April 7th, which marked the 21st anniversary of the start of the Rwanda genocide, with a somewhat terse announcement of “the declassification of Elysée documents concerning Rwanda between 1990 and 1995”.