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France declassifies Elysee documents on Rwanda genocide

France has decided to declassify documents relating to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Relations between the two countries remain strained over Kigali's claim that Paris played an indirect role in the atrocity.

News agencies cited sources close to French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday who said that the Elysee Palace documents to be declassified were from the years between 1990 and 1995, when the Socialist, Francois Mitterand, was in office.

"The president (Hollande) had announced a year ago that France must provide proof of transparency and facilitate remembrance of this period," an unnamed source told the AFP news agency.

The papers, to be made available to researchers, historians and victims' groups, are said to include documents from diplomatic and military advisers to then-President Mitterand, as well as minutes from ministerial and defense meetings.

Both AFP and Reuters cited unnamed sources who said that the order to declassify the documents had been signed on Tuesday.

Accusations fuel bilateral strains

Relations between Kigali and Paris have been strained for years largely due to Rwandan President Paul Kagame's accusations that France was complicit in the 1994 genocide due to its support of the Hutu-led government of the day. An estimated 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in a three-month-long rampage by Hutu extremists at the time.

The French justice minister cancelled

plans to attend last year's events marking the 20th anniversary of the genocide,

after the rebel-turned-president, Paul Kagame, renewed his

accusations against Paris

, saying not only had France not "done enough to save lives" but that it had been "an actor" in the killings of Tutsis.

Paris has repeatedly dismissed the accusations, insisting that French soldiers had worked to protect civilians.

A French parliamentary inquiry launched to get to the truth about the country's role in the events of 1994 found that "France was in no way implicated in the genocide against the Tutsis." However, it also found that French officials had committed "serious errors of judgment."

pfd/mg (AFP, Reuters)

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