Anger at France over role in 1994 genocide drives Rwanda into Commonwealth

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Paul Kagame, the Rwandan President, says that his country will cement its bitter divorce from France and the French-speaking world, which he holds responsible for the 1994 slaughter of up to one million of his countrymen, by joining the Commonwealth later year. “There are many benefits for us in joining the Commonwealth — cultural, economic, political,” he told The Times. Mr Kagame has been invited to attend the next Commonwealth summit as an observer. “I hope they will then approve our membership. I am looking forward to it.” Mr Kagame, a lanky former guerrilla fighter with an austere manner, rarely shows any emotion. But the softly-spoken 50-year-old struggles to contain his anger when discussing France in Africa. “They are the ones who armed and trained the militias . . . the evidence is everywhere. They continued to do so even after the genocide started,” he said. The bitter relations between the two countries came to a head in November when a French judge accused Mr Kagame and several of his top aides of shooting down the aircraft carrying Juvenal Habyarimana, the former President — the incident that triggered the 100-day massacre of mainly Rwandan Tutsis and of moderate Hutus opposed to his regime...

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