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French envoy barred from Rwandan events

Kigali -

The French ambassador to Rwanda said on Monday that he has been barred from attending events marking the 20th anniversary of the country’s genocide, amid a major diplomatic row surrounding France's controversial role in the events of 1994.

A young Catholic girl attends a church service at the Saint-Famille Catholic Church ahead of the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the genocide in the Rwandan capital Kigali. An estimated 800 000 people were killed in 100 days during the genocide. Picture: Noor Khamis. Credit: Reuters

“Yesterday night the Rwandan foreign ministry telephoned to inform me that I was no longer accredited for the ceremonies,” the French ambassador, Michel Flesch, told AFP.

French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira pulled out of attending Monday's events after Rwandan President Paul Kagame repeated his accusation of French “participation” in the murder of 800 000 ethnic Tutsis.

France, an ally of the Hutu nationalist government prior to the 1994 killings, has repeatedly denied any complicity in the genocide.

Although choosing not to send a minister, France had said its ambassador would attend - a major diplomatic downgrading of its attendance.

Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo on Sunday told France to face up to the “difficult truth” over its actions two decades ago.

“For our two countries to really start getting along, we will have to face the truth, the truth is difficult, the truth of being close to anybody who is associated with genocide understandably is a very difficult truth to accept,” Mushikiwabo said. - Sapa-AFP

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