February 16, 2007

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER:

Anger at France drives Rwanda into arms of the Commonwealth: French are the ones who trained the militias even after genocide started, President Kagame tells The Times (Jonathan Clayton, 2/16/07, Times of London)

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.


France in bid to salvage waning ties to Africa: France is hosting its 24th Franco-African summit this week as critics slam its role in the region (Scott Baldauf, 2/16/07, The Christian Science Monitor)
[A]t a time of increasing competition from Chinese, American, Indian, and South African players in search of African resources, France is finding that "la francophonie" - the language, culture, and history it shares with its former colonies - is a harder sell. France is also fending off increased criticism over its tendency to put relations with allied African regimes above good governance.

"France has traditionally had difficulty letting go of its colonies, and has meddled heavily and propped up its former colonies," says Ross Herbert, a political analyst at the South African Institute for International Affairs in Johannesburg. As a result, "Francophone countries in Africa have largely delayed the kinds of political reforms that English-speaking countries did 15 years ago, and so you see a lot of anti-democratic behavior prevailing among their leaders, and corruption, and economic and political decay."

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 16, 2007 6:55 AM
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