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Is French Admiral Lanxade saying the truth?

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Paris: In an interview given this Thursday, August 07 2008, to journalist Olivier Rogez for “Radio France International” (RFI), French Admiral Jacques Lanxade, Army Chief of Staff in 1994 at the time of the Tutsi Genocide, answered the accusations against him in the report emanating from the “Rwanda Independent National Commission” that probed the involvement of France in the massacres, a document made public on August 05 2008.

Referring to an article published in the February 02 1998 issue of the French daily “Liberation”, the Mucyo report mentions that “according to private statements made to journalists by a French officer who wished to remain unnamed, the orders not to stop the massacres were given by Admiral Lanxade and/or by General Christian Quesnot.” The document states an extract of the said private statements: “Before leaving for Rwanda, I used to come up to Lanxade to collect my notes, then take my orders from the Private Staff of the President of the Republic”.

Speaking on RFI, the French Admiral, retired, denied giving such an order as not to stop the first massacres that occurred at the time when, starting on April 09 1994, operation Amaryllis was deployed to evacuate foreign residents. The former French army chief is top on the list of 20 officers that Kigali accuses of taking part in the planning and execution of the mass massacres.  

“This is totally untrue”, he declared on RFI, before proceeding: “The purpose of Amaryllis was to evacuate the French, and more generally, the foreign residents of Kigali in a period of extreme tension”, but, according to the Admiral, there was at that time “no hint (of massacres), there was fighting in Kigali between the Rwanda Army and the RPF”. (Rwandan Patriotic Front)

The presumably involved officer added that “as in all these confrontations, in these regions, there were executions on both sides and the mission of the French army was most clearly: you must evacuate foreign residents and then draw back. That is what we did.”

But, on January 25 2008, the RNA revealed, through its correspondent in France, a confidential note that the French parliamentary mission of information on Rwanda, had not, as far as it was concerned, deemed worth while making public in 1998. In perspective with the latest declarations of Admiral Lanxade, it shows the purpose of the latter to mislead public opinion.

This note (N° 018/3°RPIMa/EM/CD), that Officer Henri Poncet, then commanding operation Amaryllis, had sent him on April 27 2008, expresses the “permanent preoccupation of not showing the media French soldiers limiting access to mustering points only to foreigners on Rwanda territory.” The document indicates these are the provisions consigned in Directive n°008/DEF/EMA of April 10.

In the same note, Poncet states the other “permanent care of not showing the media French soldiers not intervening to have the massacres they were close witnesses of be stopped.” And it is clearly to his superior, Admiral Lanxade, that this note, in which he expressed his respect of the orders consisting in not intervening to have the massacres stopped, was sent.

And Admiral Lanxade could not ignore that it was then Genocide against the Tutsis. Indeed, the very order of launching Amaryllis Operation, dated April 8 1994, states that “to avenge the death of president Habyarimana (...) the members of the (Rwanda) presidential Guard carried out reprisal actions as early as the 7th in the morning in the town of Kigali” The document also states clearly that these reprisals involved the “elimination of the Tutsi”.

Thus, the order of Operation Amaryllis states that the French Staff, from where it originates, at least knew as early as April 08, that the Genocide against the Tutsi had just started and that it was organised by the temporary Rwanda government, formed within the very French embassy in Kigali. The recent declaration of Lanxade according to which there would have been then “executions on both sides” is hence, with regards to the content of the order of Amaryllis Operation, equally emanating from the French Defence Ministry, can be seen as inaccurate.

RNA is hence able to establish that, to answer the accusations it is the object of within the report made by the Rwanda independent national Commission on the involvement of France in the Tutsi Genocide, Jacques Lanxade, the former French Army Chief of Staff, may not have made objective comments, on that April 07 2008, while speaking on the French Radio Station “RFI”.

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