A French diplomatic delegation suffered a visa refusal by the Rwandan authorities for presenting a travel document decorated with the former Rwandan flag, which was in force at the time of the genocide.
It is a first hitch in the still embryonic relationship between the new French authorities and the Kigali regime. On 9 and 10 July, a French official delegation was to go on a mission to Rwanda, before continuing its journey in Cameroon. Headed by Rémi Maréchaux, director of Africa and the Indian Ocean at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who was to be accompanied by a head of sub-Saharan Africa of the French Development Agency (AFD) economic. A hearing had been agreed in Kigali with Louise Mushikiwabo, the Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs.
In early July, the Quai d’Orsay sent the visa application for these three personalities to the Rwandan embassy in Paris, as well as the itinerary to Central Africa via Brussels. In front of each of the countries crossed, the computer system of the Quai d’Orsay has included its flag. For Rwanda, it consists of three vertical bands (green, yellow, red) and a capital R in its center. The only problem is that Rwanda has changed its flag since 2001. The one in the archives of the French Republic corresponds in fact to the flag of the regime of the late Juvénal Habyarimana, described by a Rwandan diplomatic source as the “flag of the genocidaires”.
The case goes back to Kigali, where the answer is not long in coming. From a high authority of the French Republic, the ball is seen as a casus belli. And the visa is not granted to the three officials.