On coming to power in 2007, Sarkozy began to repair relations, attempting to appease Rwandan anger without betraying the French officials who served the previous administration.
The judge who accused Kagame retired, two of his key witnesses retracted their statements, Habyarimana’s widow was refused asylum and investigations have been stepped up into those accused of supporting the genocide.
In January 2008, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner went to Kigali and said France had made a “political error” in its handling of the crisis but bore no “military responsibility” for the mass killings.
Sarkozy met Kagame twice on the sidelines of summits before diplomatic relations were restored in November last year.
France may never regain its privileged relationship with Rwanda, which has now symbolically joined the mainly English-speaking Commonwealth, but Sarkozy’s visit may signal the end of a bitter chapter. (AFP)