French President Emmanuel Macron has been invited to to attend the 25th anniversary of the genocide in Rwanda, which accuses France of complicity in the 1994 massacre.
Olivier Nduhungirehe, Rwanda’s state minister for foreign affairs, said on Tuesday that the ceremony is scheduled to be held on April 7.
If Macron accepts the invitation, he will become only the second French president to visit the African country since the genocide, which has poisoned relations between the two countries. France’s former President Nicolas Sarkozy was the first to visit Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, in February 2010.
The French government is accused of supporting the Hutu nationalist government, which carried out the mass killing of an estimated 800,000 to 1,000,000 Rwandans.
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has time and again repeated accusations that French troops were both accomplices and “actors” in the massacre.
The Rwandan genocide began following the shooting down of a plane transporting former President Juvenal Habyarimana on April 6, 1994. Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira was also killed in the plane crash. They were both ethnic Hutus.
After the crash, Hutus who were in majority, were incited to commit acts of ethnic violence against Tutsis. Habyarimana’s assassination triggered 100 days of bloodshed that left thousands of people dead, mostly members of the Tutsi minority.
In 2009, a Rwandan inquiry found Hutu extremists, who viewed Habyarimana as too willing to compromise with Tutsis, responsible for the assassination. A report from ballistic experts in 2012 also suggested that the missiles used in the attack were likely fired from a camp held by Habyarimana’s own presidential guard.
In 2016, Rwanda opened a formal investigation into the alleged role of 20 French officials in the genocide.
France, which supported the Hutu regime under its controversial policy of seeking influence in post-independence Africa, has admitted it made mistakes but insists it never had a role in the massacre. In 2010, Sarkozy also admitted France had made “serious errors” regarding the human tragedy but he gave no apology.