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December 6, 2021 French

La situation se tend au Rwanda pour l'armée française qui veut créer une zone protégée malgré l'opposition du FPR, qui vient de prendre Kigali et Butare

Card Number 29198

Poivre d'Arvor, Patrick
Berrou, Loïck
Ferey, Jean-Pierre
Nakad, Nahida
4 juillet 1994
Time zone
Journal de 20 heures
La situation se tend au Rwanda pour l'armée française qui veut créer une zone protégée malgré l'opposition du FPR, qui vient de prendre Kigali et Butare
Tous les Tutsi qui restent dans la région de Kibuye vivent désormais en cachette. Dans toute la zone, des patrouilles de l'armée française vont à leur recherche.
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- The situation is tense in Rwanda for the French army which wants to create a protected zone despite the opposition of the RPF, which has just taken Kigali and Butare.
- François Mitterrand is in South Africa.
- The capital Kigali has just fallen into the hands of the RPF. The fighting has mainly taken place in Kigali for about two weeks at night. The Patriotic Front of Rwanda likes to operate in very discreet commandos after having heavily shelled the city for a month. That's the way he did it this morning. Several commandos launched into town. It seems that the government troops lacked ammunition, were cornered on their last two positions. These last two positions were a barracks of the gendarmerie, on one of the hills overlooking the city. And it was above all the presidential guard, this elite troop that has been trained by the French army for three years now. And who was therefore absolutely at the end of his rope. The RPF troops first wanted to liberate the Church of the Holy Family. And it is extremely symbolic since it is in this church that 800 Tutsi refugees lived in the permanent fear of being killed by the Hutu militias which still prevail in the city. The city had been deserted for the past two weeks, only a few militiamen could be seen there. The rest of the population lived in caves, in terror of the bombardments. The RPF holds two-thirds of Rwandan territory. It owns the two main cities: the capital Kigali and Butare.
- The RPF took the town of Butare this morning, which is located in the southwest of the country. He continues his march towards the Zairian border, that is to say in an area hitherto considered as protected by the French army, which still wants to continue to do its humanitarian work. But the RPF was categorical: "This humanitarian zone is doomed to failure", he just said an hour ago.
- The Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, Admiral Lanxade, gave his version of the incident at the end of the afternoon during which, yesterday [July 3], French soldiers were shot at. A patrol was returning from the border with Burundi. She had escorted there 600 orphans who were fleeing Rwanda. She met RPF troops who let them pass. But further on, a group of uncontrolled or poorly controlled soldiers opened fire, more out of stupidity than out of real provocation.
- There is therefore no reason, according to Admiral Lanxade, to exaggerate this event. On the other hand, he insisted: France has created, in the south of the country, a safety zone where all refugees will be protected. Hence the order given to French soldiers to oppose any armed intrusion into this safe zone. Jacques Lanxade: "The border of the humanitarian zone passes east of Gikongoro. And we told the RPF that we did not want it to enter this zone. French soldiers are there to mark the limits of this zone. And I don't think they have to oppose the RPF militarily. Because I don't believe that the RPF will cross".
- In this humanitarian protection zone there is the town of Kibuye. At the Saint-Jean church, the Hutu faithful pray, as if nothing had happened. On the side of the hill, a mass grave. 2,000 Tutsis were killed here and no one bothered to have them buried, not even the Hutu priest who has occupied the church since the massacre. Father Jean-François: "When you go to church, little by little, the bad smell leaves to leave a certain good smell".
- All the Tutsi who remain in this region are now living in hiding. They know that the French are there: every day, one or two manage to make contact with the French army, which is a kilometer away. Army patrols throughout the area are looking for them. Here they found a baby. His parents were killed. A Hutu family took him in but was afraid to keep him. He will join 1,000 other Tutsi grouped together in a clearing in Bisesero. The French who protect them arrived a little late but one thing is certain: since they have been there, the Hutus, established on the hills, no longer dare to attack them.
- The government until then in place in Rwanda, which now seems to be losing all its strongholds, does not want to go into exile. 17 political parties have pledged to promote dialogue between the RPF and this ousted government.
- France asked the fighters to stay away from the town of Gikongoro, where hundreds of thousands of people are refugees. The French soldiers have been ordered to stay in this town.
- According to Minister Alain Juppé, there is no hostility in principle on the part of the RPF to the concept of a safe humanitarian zone. As for the Communist group, it asked for the minister to be heard before the Assembly. And the PS regretted the slowness of the UN to come to support the efforts of France.