French PM says Paris had no role in Rwanda

Manuel Valls has used his first policy speech since being named France's prime minister to say his country is not to blame for Rwanda's genocide.

France's new Prime Minister Manuel Valls says his country could in no way be held responsible for the Rwandan genocide 20 years ago.

His comments came on Tuesday amid a bitter spat over allegations by Kigali of Paris's complicity in the bloodshed.

"I do not accept the unjust accusations suggesting that France was an accomplice in the Rwandan genocide," Valls told parliament in his first policy speech since being named prime minister.

He said France's aim "had always been to separate the warring sides".

The row revolves around France's role prior to the genocide as a close ally of the Hutu nationalist regime of Juvenal Habyarimana.

The shooting down of the president's plane over Kigali late on April 6, 1994 was the event that triggered 100 days of meticulously-planned slaughter that claimed 800,000 lives, mainly of the Tutsi minority.

France is accused of missing or ignoring the warning signs, and of training soldiers and militia who carried out the killings.

When the genocide was in full swing, France was accused of using its diplomatic clout to stall effective action.

France maintains its deployment stopped the killings and saved thousands of lives.

French officials insist that any guilt for failing to prevent the genocide is shared by the entire international community, and in turn accuse Rwandan President Paul Kagame, a former rebel leader, of only raising the issue to distract attention from what they say is his own poor human rights record.

Source AAP

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