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The Rwandan Crisis Seen through the Eyes of France: Part III

Document 11 (French) Document 11 (English)

Date: July 1, 1992 To: President François Mitterrand From: [Military Advisor to Mitterrand] General Christian Quesnot Source: Mitterrand Archive Subject: Rwanda Military Situation

General Quesnot reports to Mitterrand that the RPF has stepped up its offensive into northern Rwanda “with the important support of the Ugandan army,” prior to the start of peace negotiations in Arusha, Tanzania, scheduled for July 10, 1992. He recommends that French military advisors be allowed to train Rwandan soldiers in the use of military equipment “subject to the most extreme discretion” but should not take part in combat operations.

Document 12 (French) Document 12 (English)

Date: January 19, 1993 To: French Foreign Ministry From: [French Ambassador to Rwanda] Georges Martres Source: Mitterrand Archive Subject: Mission from International Federation for Human Rights

Document 13 (French) Document 13 (English)

Date: February 1, 1993 To: [Advisor on African Affairs to President Mitterrand] Bruno Delaye From: [Human Rights Activist] Jean Carbonare Source: Mitterrand Archive Subject: Human Rights Violations in Rwanda

In January 1993, an international human rights commission arrived in Kigali to investigate allegations of Rwandan government connivance in massacres of minority Tutsis. Ambassador Martres feared that the commission report would embarrass President Habyarimana and the French government, and he predicted a backlash by Hutu hardliners, based in northern Rwanda. An imprisoned Rwandan journalist, Janvier Afrika, told the commission that the violence was being fueled by “death squads” linked to Hutu extremists close to Habyarimana.

Document 14 (French) Document 14 (English)

Date: February 8, 1993 To: President François Mitterrand From: [Military Advisor to Mitterrand] General Christian Quesnot and [Advisor on African Affairs to Mitterrand] Bruno Delaye Source: Mitterrand Archive Subject: Rwanda—RPF Military Offensive

On February 8, 1993, following reports of massacres of minority Tutsis, the RPF launched a major offensive in northern Rwanda, capturing the town of Ruhengeri. The French government immediately called a “crisis meeting” and authorized expanded support for the Rwandan army, “with the exception of direct participation of French forces” in the fighting.

Document 15 (French) Document 15 (English)

Date: February 15, 1993 To: President François Mitterrand From: [Advisor on African Affairs to Mitterrand] Bruno Delaye Source: Mitterrand Archive Subject: Rwanda: Mission to Kigali and Kampala

Reporting on a trip to Rwanda and Uganda, presidential advisor Bruno Delaye describes the “disastrous” political situation in Rwanda following the RPF attack on Ruhengeri. He warns that the rebels are in a position to “capture Kigali.” Delaye attempts to negotiate a deal between “the Hutus of the North,” gathered around President Habyarimana, who are opposed to any political concessions to the RPF, and “the Hutus of the South,” who favor negotiations with the RPF and the overthrow of Habyarimana. The French-brokered deal includes a joint denunciation of the RPF, renewed commitment to democratization, and a resumption of the Arusha peace negotiations.

Document 16 (French) Document 16 (English)

Date: February 26, 1993 To: President François Mitterrand From: [Defense Minister] Pierre Joxe Source: Mitterrand Archive Subject: Rwanda

In a memorandum to French president Mitterrand, Defense Minister Pierre Joxe expresses concern at the failure of the Rwandan army to resist a Tutsi-led invasion of the country, despite the presence of 690 French military advisors under Operation Noroit. He suggests that Habyarimana is “largely responsible” for the “present fiasco” through his “political intransigence.” He recommends pressuring Habyarimana to soften his position by threatening to withdraw French troops and negotiate a political solution to the crisis.

Document 17 (French) Document 17 (English)

Date: March 3, 1993 From: Notes Taken by Hubert Védrine taken during Council of Ministers Source: Mitterrand Archive Subject: Situation in Rwanda

Anxious to reduce France’s military exposure in Rwanda, President Mitterrand sought to internationalize the conflict “by handing it over to the United Nations.” He viewed the UN’s involvement in Rwanda as the best exit strategy for France, while avoiding an outright RPF victory.

Document 18 (French) Document 18 (English)

Date: April 2, 1993 From: Council of Ministers Minutes Source: Mitterrand Archive Subject: Situation in Rwanda

A right-wing victory in French parliamentary elections in March 1993 posed a further complication for French foreign policy, obliging President Mitterrand to share power with a conservative prime minister, Édouard Balladur. During the first cabinet meeting of the “cohabitation” regime, Mitterrand and Balladur agree on the need to reinforce the French presence in Rwanda with 1,000 additional troops.

Document 19 (French) Document 19 (English)

Date: February 28, 1994 To: Private Letter to a Friend From: [Co-Pilot of Habyarimana’s Presidential Plane] Jean-Pierre Minaberry Source: French Parliamentary Commission Subject: Missiles Threatening the Security of the Falcon’s Flights

In a private letter to a friend, the French pilot of Habyarimana’s plane expresses concern about the possibility of an attack on the Falcon 50 jet. Colonel Minaberry suspects that RPF troops, who have recently taken over the parliament building in Kigali (CND), have the technical capability to shoot down a plane landing at Kigali airport with Soviet SA-7 or SA-16 surface-to-air missiles. He discusses alternative landing approaches to neutralize the threat.

Document 20 (French) Document 20 (English)

Date: April 7, 1994 To: President François Mitterrand From: [Advisor on African Affairs to Mitterrand] Bruno Delaye Source: French Parliamentary Commission Subject: Attack against the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi

The first report to Mitterrand on the downing of Habyarimana’s plane “attributes” responsibility to the Tutsi-led RPF, but does not provide any concrete evidence. Presidential advisor Bruno Delaye reports that the Presidential Guard has begun to hunt down political opponents of the president, both Hutus and Tutsis, and a military confrontation “appears inevitable.” Delaye says the French embassy is ready to provide shelter to Habyarimana’s family, in accordance with Mitterrand’s instructions.

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