Rwandan leader in Paris for UN trip as ties remain strained

Rwandan President Paul Kagame got a mixed reception from protesters in Paris Friday as he visited the UN cultural agency on his first trip to the city since accusing France of "participating" in genocide.

He is not due to meet with French officials during his visit for a meeting of the International Telcommunication Union, a UN-specialised agency for information and communication technologies, where he is co-chair of the broadband commission.

Ties between France and Rwanda are strained as Kagame accuses Paris of complicity in the 1994 genocide because of its support of the Hutu nationalist government that carried out the killings of at least 800,000 people, mainly ethnic Tutsis.

Paris has repeatedly denied the accusations and insists that French forces had worked to protect civilians.

Relations between both countries were completely frozen from 2006 to 2009.

A group of around 40 Kagame opponents rallied at the UNESCO headquarters ahead of his arrival.

They shouted "Kagame criminal, Kagame assassin" and called for "democracy and respect of human rights" in Rwanda, where his authoritarian regime oppresses the opposition.

"We are here because Kagame has no place in international bodies and should be in front of a tribunal, to answer for his responsibility in the genocide," Marcel Sebatware, who came from Belgium to protest, told AFP.

Sebatwre is a member of the opposition United Democratic Forces party, whose leader Victoire Ingabire is in jail for "conspiracy in harming authorities through terrorism and war."

He alleges that Kagame is partly responsible for the genocide because "he ordered the attack against the plane of Juvenal Habyarimana," the former Hutu Rwandan president whose death sparked the massacre of Tutsis.

French judges have been investigating the incident since 2007, and one magistrate once accused the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front, led by Kagame, of being behind the attack.

But a French expert study of the crash site released in January 2012 provided scientific evidence indicating the missiles had been fired from the military camp of the Presidential Guard.

Elsewhere in Paris, not far away from the anti-Kagame protesters, up to 80 people rallied to welcome the Rwandan president, holding signs reading "Rwanda knows its own history."

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