President Emmanuel Macron believes France and its Western and African allies “could have stopped” Rwanda’s 1994 genocide but did not have the will to halt the slaughter of an estimated 800,000 people, mostly ethnic Tutsis, the presidency said on Thursday.

In a video message to be published on Sunday to mark the 30th anniversary of the genocide, Macron will emphasise that “when the phase of total extermination against the Tutsis began, the international community had the means to know and act”, a French presidential official said, asking not to be named.

The president believes that at the time, the international community already had historical experience of witnessing genocide with the Holocaust in World War II and the mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey during World War I.


Macron will say that “France, which could have stopped the genocide with its Western and African allies, did not have the will” to do so, the official added.

The president will not be heading to Kigali to attend commemorations of the genocide this Sunday alongside Rwandan President Paul Kagame, and France will instead be represented by Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne.

Macron, during a visit to Rwanda in 2021, recognised France’s “responsibilities” in the genocide and said only the survivors could grant “the gift of forgiveness”.

But he stopped short of an apology and Kagame, who led the Tutsi rebellion that ended the genocide, has long insisted on the need for a stronger statement.

A historical commission set up by Macron and led by historian Vincent Duclert also concluded in 2021 that there had been a “failure” on the part of France under former leader Francois Mitterrand, while adding that there was no evidence Paris was complicit in the killings.

Marcel Kabanda, president of the Ibuka France genocide survivor association, welcomed Macron’s new message reported on Thursday.

“It goes even further than the Duclert report or his message in Kigali” in 2021, he said.

“I’m overjoyed he is giving France this positive image of a country that recognises its faults and grows through recognising its history,” he said.

In his video message, Macron is to “reiterate the importance of the duty of remembrance, but also of developing and disseminating reference knowledge, in particular through the education of younger generations in France,” the presidency said.