On the margins of the Françafrique: Franco-Burundian and Franco-Rwandan bonds from an historical perspective

On the margins of the Françafrique: Franco-Burundian and Franco-Rwandan bonds from an historical... Abstract The article comparatively analyses Franco-Burundian and Franco-Rwandan relations during the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s. From the 1970s, the two former Belgian colonies were integrated into the complex political, economic, cultural and military system that France implemented with its former colonies. By the mid-1980s, Paris achieved a formal co-optation of the two states in the traditional Franco-African order, with more success in Rwanda than in Burundi. Nevertheless, in both cases this co-optation was partial: the interconnections between Paris, Bujumbura and Kigali in 1985 were not as intense and as close as the other traditional Franco-African bonds. The article explores the process of inclusion of the two states in the pré carré africain français. The purpose is to highlight the main features of the relationship between Paris, Bujumbura and Kigali and to evaluate the results achieved by 1985 through an historical and in-depth analysis. The article contributes significantly to existing knowledge on Franco-African relations, and provides a better understanding of the Franco-Burundian and Franco-Rwandan dynamics that emerged in the early 1990s. France’s involvement in the Rwandan genocide has been analyzed by a number of scholars, but most of the existing literature focuses on the links between Paris and Kigali from the beginning of the Rwandan civil war (October 1990) until the Operation Turquoise (June 1994).1 This article fills a gap by studying the most significant developments in Franco-Rwandan ties between the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s. It also analyses the contemporary links established by Paris with Burundi, Rwanda’s false twin. Indeed, no interpretation of Franco-Rwandan relations can ignore the Franco-Burundian links. Moreover, Paris also played a role in the Burundian crisis of the 1990s; hence the importance of an in-depth examination of the historical premises of these developments. The article covers the decade from 1974 to 1984, as it was during the 1970s that the two former Belgian colonies were gradually integrated into the complex mechanism of political, economic, cultural and military links that France developed with its pré carré africain.2 The research ends with the first half of the 1980s, because the period that followed was influenced by different dynamics that fall outside the sphere of interest of this study. The article is based on Western diplomatic documents and interviews. Most of the diplomatic documents consist of telegrams and political reports from the 1970s and 1980s, coming from embassies and central ministries (principally foreign affairs, interior and defence) of the main Western partners of Burundi and Rwanda of the time: Belgium, France, United Kingdom and United States. This material was collected during archival research in the four Western countries between 2013 and 2016. The interviews took place between 2013 and 2016 and involved French ambassadors in Burundi and Rwanda between 1970 and 1985, as well as some experts on Burundian and Rwandan history and France’s Africa policy. Unfortunately only a few ambassadors were available for interview3; whereas, several scholars proved ready to collaborate with the research. Using unreleased and unpublished primary sources, the analysis looks at a well researched subject—traditional Franco-African relations—from the perspective of two countries that have been virtually ignored by the literature. Most of the existing knowledge on France’s African policy focuses on the political, military, economic and cooperation links that France developed with its former colonies in West and Central Africa.4 Case studies and general reflections on these relations during the post-independence period abound, but no scholar has focused on French contemporary policy in Rwanda and Burundi. This study broadens our knowledge of Franco-African relations by adopting an original and unexplored point of view. At the same time, the co-optation of Burundi and Rwanda into the pré carré africain français can be interpreted as an expression of French strategy to expand its influence in sub-Saharan Africa in the 1970s. This is another subject that has not been investigated to any great extent, except for some research on French links to certain Anglophone countries such as Rhodesia, South Africa and Nigeria.5 This study provides a more in-depth view of this policy and compares the widening of French influence over Francophone and Anglophone states. Moreover, the diverse international orientations of Burundi and Rwanda in this period allow us to reflect on French policies towards ‘progressive’ and ‘moderate’ African states.6 This is an interesting issue to explore in order to understand how the international orientation of African interlocutors affected France’s strategies on the continent. Finally, the reconstruction of the long-term dynamics of the Franco-Burundian and Franco-Rwandan ties can be seen as a pre-requisite for informed insight into developments in French policy towards the two states during the 1990s. In the period under review, it is possible to retrace some characteristics of the French policy that subsequently affected Paris’ future choices in the two countries. The relevance of cultural links between the three states, the growing closeness within their military milieu that played a key role in French strategies of the 1990s (above all in Rwanda), and France’s limited and stereotyped knowledge about local contexts are emblematic in this sense. At the same time, this analysis enables us to debunk some conjectures about alleged structural elements of the Franco-Rwandan and Franco-Burundian relations of the 1990s. Many analyses implicitly assume that France’s policy towards the two countries resulted from the so-called ‘traditional’ Franco-African alliance.7 As this article demonstrates, however, Franco-Burundian and Franco-Rwandan relations never assumed the characteristics of the traditional Franco-African links. The French policy towards the two countries in the 1990s must be understood considering different dynamics. In particular, factors such as the political turmoil on the continent in that period and the pressure of Francophone allies played a relevant role. A comparative perspective highlights the diverging responses of the French government towards the Burundian and Rwandan crises. The analysis demonstrates how distinct relations established between the three states help to explain France’s apathy in Burundi and France’s activism in Rwanda between 1990 and 1994. The aim of this article is not to find a direct, causal link between what happened in the 1970s and 1980s and subsequent events, but rather to contribute to a deeper understanding of the original characteristics and purposes of the actors involved and the multifaceted, though indirect, linkages between the two periods. After providing an overview of the main characteristics of ‘traditional’ Franco-African relations, the article analyses the links established by France with Burundi and Rwanda in the decade under consideration and reflects on the aims of Paris and its African counterparts in the context of this relationship. What is it that makes Franco-African relations so special (1974–1984)? The Fifth Republic established a special link with France’s former African colonies. Created at the beginning of the 1960s by General Charles de Gaulle and his right-hand-man for African affairs, Jacques Foccart, this unique relationship was maintained throughout the entire period under review. The peculiarity of the Franco-African relationship lies in the importance, exclusive nature and quality of the links between Paris and its former colonies on the African continent. In terms of cooperation, Francophone states absorbed approximately 40 percent of total French aid, and France was the only Western country that guaranteed significant military assistance to certain African states after independence.8 In addition to a dozen technical assistance agreements, Paris signed eight defence treaties and installed six military bases in sub-Saharan Africa.9 A special ministry (the Ministry of Cooperation) was placed in charge of civil and military aid exclusively for Francophone African states, and even though abolition of this ministry was debated, a single French cooperation agency was only created in 1998.10 Apart from this cooperation, a series of specific political and economic institutions, such as the Franc zone, the annual Franco-African summits and the numerous organizations and associations linked to the galaxy of ‘Francophonie’, made Franco-African links unique.11 The specificity of Franco-African connections originated from the direct, personal and multilevel bonds between French and African élites, which was nourished by mutual official and unofficial visits throughout the decades. The rhetoric used to describe Franco-African exchanges, with its references to the concept of ‘family’, reflected this particular system masterfully.12 The peculiarities of the Franco-African links led France to establish paternalistic ties with this group of states, which caused a number of distortions, from encouraging the misuse of aid to facilitating corruption and underhanded transfers of funds.13 French documents also often displayed bias in their perception of African counterparts, reiterating a form of ‘cultural alienation’14 or ‘paternalistic racism’15 towards them. One might wonder whether a more detached relationship would have helped the French gain a deeper understanding of their African interlocutors, and overcome old prejudices and facilitate new approaches. The reasons why France maintained these special bonds with its pré carré africain can be divided into strategic, economic, cultural and political arguments. Economic interests played a smaller role in maintaining the relationship. During the period under scrutiny, although French commercial stakes in Francophone Africa were higher than they were in Anglophone territories, they were still limited compared to other geographical areas.16 Even though certain Francophone African states were important in terms of direct French investment, they played a marginal role at a macro-economic level.17 Nevertheless, the ‘tied aid’ formula and the commercial clauses that were often included in cooperation agreements demonstrate how Paris sought to make its African connections as profitable as possible.18 In order to find a more general explanation for the Franco-African relationships, it is necessary to refer to the cultural and political reasons behind them. ‘Génie français’ (French genius) and a sense of responsibility and historical boundaries were the cultural cornerstones of the Franco-African discourse. As the motherland of human rights and Western civilization, France could not renounce its international vocation,19 and its colonial experience made Sub-Saharan Africa a privileged area of intervention. As far as political interests are concerned, France’s influence in Africa provided the opportunity to demonstrate its economic, political, cultural and military strength to the rest of the world. It also granted Paris a network of states that were willing to support its positions in a number of different contexts. African support was never accidental and yet not guaranteed either.20 The most important political aspect of the Franco-African relationship was, however, that it enabled France to set itself apart as a middle power with influence over a geographical area that was larger than its political and economic status could ever have granted it. As late as 1990, an official document claimed that ‘the French role on the world stage depends largely on the audience that she has on the African continent, on the positions she takes to defend African interests’.21 France was the only Western power that supported African states to play their own role in the world to such a degree. It was within this framework that Paris’ policy in Burundi and Rwanda was situated. Why co-opt Burundi and Rwanda? Burundi and Rwanda were not part of the historical pré carré africain français, but following independence, they were progressively co-opted into the French sphere of influence, a process that became particularly evident and intense during the 1970s. The two former Belgian colonies were poor in strategic resources and raw materials. Thus, France acted chiefly for political and cultural purposes. Its interest in Bujumbura and Kigali derived first of all from their francophonie. In these two contexts, an extension of influence was perceived by Paris as a kind of natural and – considering the size of the two countries – economical course of action.22 A propos the francophonie issue, during the 1990s, several scholars reconnected French activism in Rwanda to the so-called ‘Fashoda complex’ (which extended to the United States). The fear that the two former Belgian colonies might prove attractive to the Anglophone world was present in some documents from the 1960s, but it subsided in the period under review.23 This reduction in French concerns was principally due to the failure of the East African Community and the lack of American attention towards the two countries after the stabilization of nearby Zaire.24 This did not mean, however, that French competition with the ‘Anglosaxons’ in the region disappeared; as the British Ambassador to Paris underlined in 1978, referring to the Shaba II operation (although his comment could be extended to Burundi and Rwanda) ‘I would not say that the Fashoda complex has been completely resolved (…) there is a constant aversion to being seen to play second fiddle to the Americans’.25 Beyond the issue of francophonie and the resulting competition with English-speaking countries, the two former Belgian colonies also assumed specific importance for Paris in the light of the broader French African strategy of the time. From the 1970s onwards, France attempted to extend its influence on the African continent beyond its historical pré carré as a result of its ambition to be a ‘bridge between the North and the South’ of the world.26 This ambition became particularly strategic in the 1970s, when ‘the South’ sought more space at an international level. In order to be credible as a privileged interlocutor, however, France needed to strengthen its appeal in the Third World. The African continent seemed to be the easiest context within which to act, and Burundi and Rwanda were among the first French partners from this perspective. French interventions in Burundi and Rwanda were more direct and successful in terms of influence than they were in Anglophone African countries. The latter were never co-opted into the traditional Franco-African system, and French choices towards these states were often driven by more clearly evident economic stakes.27 One further important aspect to consider in order to acquire an understanding of the French approach to Burundi and Rwanda is their geographical position. On the one hand, they were both ‘hinge countries’ between Anglophone and Francophone Africa, with an important symbolic and economic value as ‘springboard countries’ for potential economic penetration into East Africa and as a pillar of the French presence in the region.28 On the other hand, both Burundi and Rwanda had borders with rich Zaire; their stability and loyalty was strategic for maintaining the status quo in the region, and observing and intervening in the rich neighbour if necessary.29 To all these arguments we must add Cold War dynamics. In both countries, the ‘West’ was represented by Belgium, which was small and continually threatening to withdraw from its former colonies (it withdrew in Burundi after 1972 with regard to military cooperation).30 Thus, from the perspective of Paris, a French presence was particularly urgent. Burundi and Rwanda had their own interests in acquiring closer ties to France and were actively engaged in approaching Paris – thereby confirming the primary role and responsibility of African states in their external relations in this period.31 Both Burundi and Rwanda wished to diminish their dependence on their former colonial power and to acquire new external partners.32 ‘Progressive’ Burundi needed to exit from its international isolation arising out of the events of 1972, while ‘moderate’ and Western-oriented Rwanda was looking for an external partner to satisfy its international ambitions. French reputation on the African continent was, or was claimed, to be that of a generous, status quo asserting power, a third party engaged in keeping the bipolar confrontation away from the continent. It was therefore seen as a valid partner by both Bujumbura and Kigali.33 As the Belgian Ambassador to Burundi stated with some annoyance, Paris’s actions were encouraged by the two African countries, which perceived its interventions as ‘with no hidden political agenda’.34 The Burundian authorities also had the opportunity to experience French reliability in terms of assurance of the status quo in case of need, directly during the events of 1972.35 The co-optation of Burundi and Rwanda into the Franco-African system By the beginning of the 1970s, the two former Belgian colonies already belonged to almost all of the associations and organizations of the ‘francophonie’. After visits by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Yvon Bourges, in 1969 and the Head of the Secretariat for African and Malagasy Affairs, Jacques Foccart in 1971, the two countries fell within the sphere of the Ministry of Cooperation, and received growing civil and military aid from Paris, with a tightening of economic and political links with France (see Figures 1 and 2). Figure 1 View largeDownload slide Official development assistance (constant prices, Index 1974 = 100) Figure 1 View largeDownload slide Official development assistance (constant prices, Index 1974 = 100) Figure 2 View largeDownload slide Military aid (constant prices, Index 1975 = 100) Figure 2 View largeDownload slide Military aid (constant prices, Index 1975 = 100) French cooperation with Burundi and Rwanda assumed the same principal characteristics as other French interventions in Francophone Africa. It was mainly based on bilateral aid, which was often given in the form of a gift (through the Fonds d’Aide Publique), with a heavy technical and cultural component and rich in prestige initiatives.36 Both in Burundi and in Rwanda, French cooperation focused on the university and healthcare sectors, and its sphere of action was only expanded to infrastructure at the end of the 1970s. The amount of aid given to the two countries was similar, if slightly larger in Rwanda (except for the period between 1982 and 1984),37 but its relative importance was greater in Burundi, because Kigali received more assistance from the international community.38 This discrepancy in the level of generosity shown towards the two states was certainly due to the varying diplomatic abilities of the Burundian and Rwandan élites (the latter were far more at ease in international relations),39 but it probably also depended on the different international reputation of the two countries (see below). Furthermore, Rwanda’s international affiliations presumably helped the country secure more international aid than its southern false twin. In the sphere of military cooperation, France signed technical assistance (not defence) treaties with both states: in 1969 with Burundi for the air force section of the army, which was extended to its land forces in 1974, and in 1975 with Rwanda for its gendarmerie, which was gradually extended to the army as a whole.40 Unlike in the case of civil cooperation, French military assistance to the two countries was separated; it was provided to different sectors of the army, and followed a distinct strategy. In the Burundian case, military aid grew slowly, above all during Mitterrand’s Presidency. During the 1970s, if we do not consider direct aid, Burundi received more military support than Rwanda. Specifically, France sent more military personnel to the country and accepted to train more Burundian soldiers in France, compared with Rwanda. However, French direct aid to Kigali was much higher than to Bujumbura. Until the arrival of Mitterrand, French military links with Rwanda were essentially based on important gifts of helicopters, airplanes, and so on, but with the arrival of the Socialist Presidency, French military cooperation with the country was ‘normalized’. Direct aid was dropped in favour of technical assistance and the number of Rwandan trainees in France increased. The distinct paths of French military cooperation in the two countries were due principally to the different international connections of Burundi and Rwanda in this field and to their differing international reputations. After 1972, Burundi received no significant military aid from any Western State except France, and it established strong links in this sector with Eastern Bloc countries, especially the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Algeria.41 At the same time, the Burundian authorities still had to restore their international image following the massacres of 1972 and they were representatives of the Tutsi ‘minority’ group (see below). Against this background, France’s main purpose was probably to give continuity and constancy to its military links to Bujumbura, but discreetly, and in this it succeeded: by the mid-1980s, France provided almost 56 percent of Burundian military purchases, engendering only limited controversy.42 The Rwandan President, on the other hand, was considered by the international community to be an ‘enfant prodige’, and the level of French favouritism towards him was spectacular. Furthermore, the Belgians continued to provide significant military support, allowing the French to concentrate on significant, though irregular, donations.43 The development of cooperative relations meant the expansion of economic links (see Figures 3 and 4). From 1974 to 1984, Burundian and Rwandan imports from France increased notably, above all in Rwanda, where in some years they tripled their real value compared with 1974. Burundian and Rwandan exports to France, on the other hand, remained anchored to the international prices for coffee and tea. Only Rwandan exports increased in value. During the years under review, the balance of payments of the two countries remained largely in favour of France. French imports never exceeded 60 million Francs, while exports reached as high as 200 million. Figure 3 View largeDownload slide Imports from France (constant prices, Index 1974 = 100) Figure 3 View largeDownload slide Imports from France (constant prices, Index 1974 = 100) Figure 4 View largeDownload slide Exports to France (constant prices, Index 1974 = 100) Figure 4 View largeDownload slide Exports to France (constant prices, Index 1974 = 100) By the end of the 1970s, the first French enterprises had opened branches in Burundi and Rwanda. They were the same companies in both countries (SGEEM, FOUGEROLLE, SPIE-BATIGNOLLE), and all these companies were connected to cooperation transactions (commissions and purchases).44 In 1982, the first commercial centre was opened in Kigali. It was also responsible for Burundi, where it arrived only two years later, symbolizing the economic hierarchy of the two countries regarding Paris.45 The growth of cooperation and economic links between France, Burundi and Rwanda was followed by some improvements in political relations. Burundian and Rwandan support for French positions in the international arena increased during this period, although a noteworthy difference can be observed between the two states due to their distinct international profiles. Even though France played a more important economic and military role in Burundi than it did in Rwanda (in relative but not absolute terms), it was President Juvenal Habyarimana, and not President Michel Micombero or Jean Baptiste Bagaza, who sought to be perceived as a ‘loyal ally’ of France. He wanted his relations with Paris to mirror the traditional Franco-African model. Habyarimana was appointed President of Organisation Commune Africaine et Malgache twice (in 1974 and 1977). In January 1977 he claimed to feel that he was a ‘full member of the Franco-African family’,46 and on several occasions he displayed a deep understanding of France’s African policy. The Rwandan president publicly supported almost all the political (Eurafrique, Trilogue, North-South Dialogue), economic (NOEI, various funds for Africa) and military initiatives launched by President Valery Giscard d’Estaing in the 1970s, and maintained his support for President François Mitterrand over the following decade.47 As a ‘moderate state’, Rwanda had nothing to lose and everything to gain by showing its loyalty to France. Conversely, although the Burundian authorities did not criticize either Giscardian or Mitterrandian policy on the continent publicly, they tended not to support them explicitly.48 The élites of Bujumbura sought to balance solidarity with France against their regional and international alliances in a difficult game of skirts, a common position among ‘progressive’ Francophone states at the time. If we consider, for instance, French military interventions on the continent in the second half of the 1970s – the most controversial aspect of Giscard’s African policy – the different attitudes of the Rwandan and Burundian leaderships become evident. Habyarimana publicly approved almost all of them, to the point where following the Shaba II operation, he praised ‘French loyalty in its engagements towards African friends’.49 Bagaza, on the other hand, adopted a more ambiguous attitude; he let his prime Minister Nzambimana thank the Western powers for their engagement in Zaire,50 but at the same time allowed Burundian national radio to define the meeting in Paris after the operation as a ‘new Berlin Conference’.51 Even their behaviour at Franco-African summits confirmed the differing approaches of the Rwandan and Burundian authorities towards France. Rwanda always sent a high profile delegation (with Habyarimana), while Burundi tended to send its Minister of Foreign Affairs (Bagaza only attended the Kigali summit, besides the one held in Bujumbura). Even though the representatives of both states were described as isolated and not fully at ease, the Rwandan delegates were far more active than the Burundians, intervening in almost all the summits and reporting on a number of issues.52 These differing reactions and attitudes of the two sets of African élites reflected a truly different level of closeness to France in this period. The more explicit Francophilia of the Rwandan authorities made Franco-Rwandan relations stronger than Franco-Burundian relations. The French authorities worked out (even though they did not implement them, at least until 1985) a number of measures for Rwanda that they never worked out for Burundi, such as inclusion in the Franc Zone, the introduction of Rwandan uniforms for French military advisors and the establishment of regular Franco-Rwandan military meetings to exchange information on the region. The latter two are particularly meaningful in the light of the events of the 1990s.53 Franco-Burundian and Franco-Rwandan relations in perspective The attitude of France towards the two former Belgian colonies should not lead us to overestimate the importance of these relationships for Paris. As far as cooperation links are concerned, Burundi and Rwanda absorbed only 3.3 percent of French aid to the pré carré between 1974 and 1984. This was undoubtedly higher when compared to 1970–1973, when they received just 1.4 percent of that aid, but it remained a limited portion of the French cooperation effort towards Francophone Africa.54 As far as economic relations are concerned, despite their objective growth (above all, as we have seen, as regards imports from France), they continued to be marginal from a French perspective. During the period under consideration, Burundi and Rwanda were the 35th and 31st suppliers and the 28th and 27th African clients for Paris, respectively. Despite numerous governmental attempts to increase private investment, French entrepreneurs did not invest there, allowing Belgians to manage most of the market, and even to distribute French products in the two states.55 From a political and cultural point of view, the French authorities continued to know very little about local dynamics in both contexts, relying mostly on Belgian information and interpretations.56 Their lack of knowledge also led them to express a number of prejudices regarding Burundian and Rwandan realities. The interpretation of the origin of the two principal ethnic groups in certain French documents from the period is a good example. Although the Hamitic hypothesis had been superseded by the 1970s, the Quai d’Orsay was still recalling the Hamitic origins of the Tutsi in 1984.57 Belgian documents from the same years did not use these terms. The overall impression is that the use of these expressions by the French was due more to the laziness of civil servants, who merely copied passages from previous documents, than it was to actual agreement with their content.58 Nevertheless, even if this is the case, it raises an interesting (and disquieting) point in the light of some French understandings of the 1990s events. Two further points on this issue are also worthy of mention. One is a second misleading interpretation of the two groups, in particular a tendency to confuse a demographic majority with political representativeness. The Hutu regime in Kigali was considered to be ‘more democratic’ than the Tutsi regime in Bujumbura because it represented ‘the majority of the population’.59 The other sheds light on the pragmatism of French African policy of the time. The fact that during the period under review Burundi and Rwanda were ruled by two ‘ethnocracies’ that answered to the Tutsi and Hutu, respectively, and asserted their legitimacy based on ethnicity, had no effect on decisions taken by France unless it risked damaging its reputation. In a number of documents, the French authorities wondered about the consequences of supporting ‘the government of the minority’ in Burundi, but the debate only related to France’s image in neighbouring Rwanda and among the Hutu majority in Burundi.60 Considering that Rwanda was satisfied with its aid and that the Hutu majority did not seem to be close to gaining power in Burundi, the French concluded that it was better not to cut off relations with the Burundian Tutsi, but to support them prudently, avoiding any actions that might be perceived by the Hutu as discriminatory.61 Returning now to the cultural relationship between the three countries, in the first half of the 1980s the French were not establishing personal links with Burundian and Rwandan élites. If one makes a comparison with traditional Franco-African relations, one sees that Paris adopted a low-profile policy. French advisors had neither the confidence nor the freedom of action they benefited from in the pré carré; Franco-Burundian and Franco-Rwandan relations did not achieve the levels of intimacy or semi-exclusivity they did in other Franco-African relationships, and Belgium remained the principal point of reference for both countries.62 Nonetheless, the Burundian and Rwandan élites internalized the rhetoric of ‘a certain idea of France’, as did their Francophone colleagues on the continent, and transmitted it in their public discourses.63 Although flattering Paris was one of the aims of these Heads of State, their positions cannot be interpreted as being mere pandering, but should be considered to be the result of a process of appropriation of French culture. In addition, some initial signs of the distortions arising out of the personalization of relations in the Franco-African system began to be revealed in the Franco-Burundian and Franco-Rwandan bonds. It is sufficient to mention just one example for each country: the priority in aid policy afforded to President Habyarimana’s home region in Rwanda64 and the ‘carrefour de developpement’ scandal in Burundi.65 All things considered, it is reasonable to take the position that Burundi and Rwanda had only been partially co-opted into the Franco-African system by the first half of the 1980s. The two countries were formally integrated into the pré carré because they were participants in almost all of its principal institutions, but there was a significant difference in terms of the intensity and quality of relations with France compared with other Francophone States. The partial nature of this co-optation was no accident; local resistance from the Burundian and Rwandan authorities, as well as the Belgians, played an important role in structuring the relations between Paris, Bujumbura and Kigali. Unlike Paris, Brussels did not base its relationships with its ex-colonies on the principle of exclusivity and allowed other actors to intervene in its former colonies. This was due to both cultural and political reasons (the Belgians did not have the same international ambitions as the French and did not count on their ex-colonies to satisfy them) and economic rationales (Brussels could not afford to have its own post-independence African empire).66 This attitude on the part of Belgium allowed France to assert itself progressively in Burundi and Rwanda. Nevertheless, when French influence and prestige in the two countries became more evident during the 1970s, the Belgian authorities in loco (above all from the Flemish side) manifested a certain amount of ‘suspicion and rancour’.67 In Belgian documents, the French were defined as ‘old foxes’, who caused ‘longing’,68 and during a visit to Bujumbura, the Belgian Foreign Minister claimed that the French had to be thought of as ‘competitors’ in the two African countries.69 Belgian irritation towards France’s influence in Burundi and Rwanda did not cause any friction between the two European allies in other contexts,70 but it forced Paris to proceed more cautiously. Even the Burundian and the Rwandan authorities showed some resistance against strengthening their relations with France. On the one hand, the cultural characteristics of the two countries made them quite closed in and historically suspicious of foreigners – far different from the more open West African cultures – and this factor complicated French actions.71 On the other hand, the Belgians had not accustomed the Burundian and Rwandan élites to the kind of relationship Paris established with its former colonies, which was based on a supposed confidentiality, direct links and informality, which made it even more difficult for them to feel comfortable with it.72 This being the case, forcing the establishment of a ‘traditional Franco-African relationship’ with Burundi and Rwanda did not seem appropriate to Paris. The kind of relations that was eventually established based on prestige and formal co-optation but not complete assimilation into the Franco-African system was probably the best option for French purposes. It allowed France to broaden its leverage and to monitor and influence the international conduct of the two African states, avoiding ‘Eastern deviances’ from Burundi and maintaining Rwandan ‘loyalty’ so as to ensure a basis in the region (which was near the Congo) and to protect ‘francophonie’ in a border context. France was able to achieve this immediately with the minimum cost to it in economic (cooperation) and political (Belgian annoyance) terms. The fact that Habyarimana’s attempts to strengthen Franco-Rwandan relations were not indulged by Paris would seem to confirm that the partial co-optation of the two former Belgian colonies into the Franco-African system was no accident. Furthermore, French documents never mention the possibility of taking a qualitative leap in relations with the two countries. It is worth underlining, in any event, that this French decision was not dictated by pressures from other African Francophone states. While the influence of certain African leaders on a number of French African policy decisions is acknowledged in both the literature and the archives, the Francophones did not seem to perceive the broadening of French influence in Burundi and Rwanda as a threat, as had been the case in other contexts.73 If one takes this background into account, French policy in Burundi and Rwanda in the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s can be considered to be a success story for France. Only the economic side confounded French expectations. The constant appeals to intensify commercial links were not followed by concrete actions, and the two countries never became an economic stepping-stone to East Africa. As regards France’s Burundian and Rwandan counterparts, it is possible to make the case that the situation was somewhat different. Bujumbura’s principal frustrations derived from the limited answers it received to its requests for aid, a common disappointment among underdeveloped countries at the time; whereas for Kigali, dissatisfaction had also a political dimension. France continued to refuse to transform Franco-Rwandan links into a relationship that was more similar to the traditional Franco-African situation. In any event, however, this deception was probably more limited than the Rwandans claimed at the time. The French were skilful enough to comply with many of their requests, and although Kigali had committed to France, it probably had no interest in loosening its ties with Brussels in order to jump into an exclusive relationship with Paris.74 1974–1984 and the 1990s At the beginning of the 1990s, Burundi and Rwanda entered a period of serious turmoil. As far as the Rwandan crisis is concerned, Paris responded promptly to the 1990–1993 Rwandan civil war and the subsequent 1994 genocide, trying to defend until the very last moment Habyarimana’s regime with growing military and political support.75 The literature on French involvement in the Rwandan events is vast.76 Most of these works, however, are not reliable in scientific terms, giving too much room to journalistic speculations or being affected by the contemporary political debate about French African policy.77 Inquiring into French responsibilities in Rwanda at the beginning of the 1990s is not the aim of this article. For the purpose of this analysis, it suffices to recall, by way of summary, the words of Georges Martres, French Ambassador in Kigali between 1989 and 1993, and Bruno Delaye, French Presidential Advisor on African Affairs between 1992 and 1994. In his Final Mission Report, Martres spoke of French ‘indisputable indirect support’ towards Habyarimana78 and in a document dated of 1993, Delaye stated that France was ‘at the limit of co-belligerence’ in Rwanda.79 In light of the preceding analysis, it is possible to affirm that French engagement in Rwanda was not the result of structural elements in terms of intense and strict historical bonds that made Franco-Rwandan links something comparable to the ‘traditional Franco-African relation’, but it was mainly related to historical contingencies. The beginning of the 1990s was characterized in the African context by political turmoil and incertitude. Franco-African relations went into a period of distress, and several African countries started to call into question French loyalty.80 By intervening in Rwanda, Paris aimed to reassure its Francophone African allies (not only, and probably not primarily, the Rwandans) about French reliability in the case of need. Rwanda was suited particularly to this purpose: it was an allied legitimate regime (perceived in this way, as demonstrated before, by the other Francophones) that was going through an external military attack. Even if contingency played an indisputable role in French engagement in Rwanda, the preceding analysis helps us to understand two peculiar aspects of Paris’ support to Habyarimana’s regime. First, the politico-cultural purposes that played a crucial role in the approach to the country were endangered in the 1990s by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), an Anglophone military group. As underlined before, the role of the Fashoda complex in French Africa’s policy should not be overestimated (nor in the decade 1974–1984, nor in the 1990s). Nevertheless, considering the relevance for Paris of ‘Francophonie’ in the Rwandan context outlined by this study, it is possible to claim that the Fashoda complex influenced some French environments in front of the RPF invasion.81 Second, several authors have underlined how the French, in particular the military personnel that played a leading role in French strategies of the 1990s,82 were influenced by the Hamitic hypothesis in their (mis)interpretations of the Rwandan crisis (the RPF was mainly composed by Tutsi).83 The preceding analysis has confirmed that sometimes limited and stereotyped knowledge informed the French approach to the country between 1974 and 1984. In particular, the Hamitic origin of the Tutsi was actually recalled in some French documents of the time. This study has also demonstrated how military links played a growing role in Franco-Rwandan relations from the second half of the 1970s. In this sense, the Hamitic hypothesis may have played a role in the 1990s. French choices between 1990 and 1994 reveal that Paris did not have a deep knowledge of the local context. If the French had properly understood Rwandan dynamics (in terms of politics, power struggles and interethnic relations), they would have probably disengaged instead of getting involved in the crisis.84 In addition, the confusion between demographic and political majority was still present in some official declarations of the 1990s.85 As far as the Burundian crisis is concerned, French official reactions were less visible compared with the Rwandan case. Although the French Embassy in Bujumbura hosted the legitimate government in search of protection after the failed coup d’etat of 1993, Paris did not engage further in the local situation,86 letting the United Nations to play a dominant role.87 Several elements illustrate the divergent French attitude in Burundi and Rwanda. Some explanations derive from the different nature of the two crises. In Rwanda the situation was read by Paris as an external military aggression to a legitimate (and allied) regime. While in Burundi it was evidently an ‘internal affair’, involving a part of the army and the newly elected civilian elite. This point imposed a more prudent attitude. Moreover, already in 1993, and above all after 1994, the growing international and internal criticism towards French African policy induced Paris to act more cautiously, especially in non-strategic contexts such as Burundi.88 It is reasonable to conclude that the distinct tone of the relationship established by France with Burundi and Rwanda in the previous decade also played a role in the different French reactions. France did not intervene on behalf of the Burundian government because they were unknown newly elected authorities with no particular links with French elites. At the same time, Paris did not engage in favour of the old Burundian authorities (rallied in the army) because they never got as close to the French as the Rwandans.89 Moreover, as this analysis has demonstrated, the former leadership of the country never gained the full support of the other Francophone African states that could push Paris towards a more active approach. Conclusions This analysis of the development of Franco-Burundian and Franco-Rwandan ties has enabled us to study traditional Franco-African relations from a previously unexplored standpoint. Paris’s interest in the two former Belgian colonies should be understood in light of the broader French strategy of expansion of its influence in Sub-Saharan Africa. Nevertheless, the relations established by France with Burundi and Rwanda must be compared with traditional Franco-African connections rather than with links with Anglophone African states. If one takes this framework into consideration, it becomes clear that the gradual integration of the two former Belgian colonies into the pré carré confirms that economic interests alone cannot explain French African policy. Paris’ involvement in Burundi and Rwanda was principally associated with political and cultural considerations.90 The choices made in the two states also illustrate the pragmatism of French African policy, which was only affected by international orientations and the ethnic justification of its African counterparts to a limited extent. Burundi was a ‘progressive, Tutsi-led’ state; whereas, Rwanda was a ‘moderate, Hutu-led’ country. No matter these differences, Paris aimed to co-opt both countries into its sphere of influence. The argument is crucial for a deeper understanding of developments in Franco-Burundian and Franco-Rwandan relations in the 1990s. This study does not claim to find a causal correlation between what happened in the decade 1974 to 1984 and the subsequent events. Given the lack of available analyses of the period between 1985 and 1990, a projection such as this cannot be established. Nevertheless, the co-optation of Bujumbura and Kigali into the French sphere of influence analyzed in this article can be considered to be the political premise for the events of the 1990s. This study sheds a pivotal light on the purposes underlying Paris’s approach towards Burundi and Rwanda and how they responded in turn, reflecting on the elements and constraints that shaped and limited the evolution of these connections. As a result, by the first half of the 1980s, Burundi and Rwanda had only been partially co-opted into the Franco-African system. While they had formally been integrated into the pré carré, their ties with France were far weaker than were those of the other Francophone states. It is crucial to bear this point in mind to avoid misreading the developments of the 1990s and to distinguish between historical contingencies and structural elements. At the beginning of the 1990s, France was a Burundian, and above all a Rwandan, ally, but these alliances did not have the same historical implications as they did in the rest of the pré carré. French responsiveness to Kigali between 1990 and 1994 should not be considered as an expression of the traditional ‘françafrique’: it was not linked to structural elements of Franco-Rwandan relation established in the decades before. Given the historical characteristics of the links between Paris and Kigali outlined in this article, France’s involvement in the country is better understood by referring to the regional and international context and their implications for Paris’ African agenda, rather than by referring to deep, official and unofficial links between Rwandan and French elites.91 At the same time, however, this study has revealed French attitudes towards certain issues in Burundi and Rwanda that played a crucial role in France’s reactions and (mis)interpretations of their subsequent crisis. The relevance of cultural links, the growing closeness within the military milieu and France’s stereotyped knowledge about local contexts are crucial points for the 1990s events and all of them have their roots in the decade 1974 to 1984. The tighter bonds established by Paris with Rwanda during the years under review contribute towards a deeper understanding of the diverse official French reactions to the Burundian and Rwandan crises of the 1990s (official apathy versus activism, respectively). Footnotes 1. For example, David Ambrosetti, La France au Rwanda (Karthala, Paris, 2000); Colette Braeckmann, Rwanda: Histoire d’un genocide (Fayard, Paris, 1994); Laure Coret, François Xavier Verschave, L’horreur qui nous prend au visage (Karthala, Paris, 2005); Human Rights Watch Arms Project, ‘Arming Rwanda’ (Human Rights Watch, New York, 1994), Olivier Lanotte, La France au Rwanda, 1990–1994 (PIE Peter Lang, Bruxelles, 2007); Linda Melvern, A people betrayed (NAEP, Cape Town, 2000); Andrew Wallis, Silent accomplice (IB Tauris, New York, 2006). 2. The pré carré africain is made up of the 16 French ex-colonies on the continent. The choice of 1974 as the starting year for this analysis derives from the aim to reflect on the presumed continuity of French African policy in the 1970s and the 1980s compared to the Gaullist period. 3. This is due to the fact that the period of analysis dates back to several years: many ambassadors of the time are not available for interviews anymore. This is particularly true for French ambassadors in Burundi and Rwanda; given the limited relevance of the two diplomatic posts, they tended to be given to ambassadors as their first post or, more frequently, as their last post. 4. See, for example, Jean François Bayart, La politique africaine de François Mitterrand (Karthala, Paris, 1984); Pierre Biarnes, Les Français en Afrique noire de Richelieu a Mitterrand (Armand Colin, Paris, 1987); Tony Chafer´and Emmanuel Godin, The end of the French exception? (Pal Grave, New York, 2009); John Chipman, French power in Africa (Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1989), Samy Cohen, Mitterrand et la sortie de la guerre froide (Press Universitaire de France, Paris, 1998); Yves Gounin, La France et l’Afrique (De Boeck, Louvain-la-Neuve, 2009). 5. See, for example, the research of Daniel Bach, Anna Konieczna, and Joanna Warson. 6. The categories ‘moderate’ and ‘progressive’, like all categories, suffer from the limitation of over-simplification. Despite the limitations, however, these labels allow the international orientation of the two countries to be defined succinctly. They were also used in the documents on which the article is based. 7. See footnote 1. 8. During the period under scrutiny, the pré carré received on average four times the amount of aid that the UK gave to its former African colonies. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), ‘Official Development Assistance’, <http://stats.oecd.org> (10 September 2018). 9. Shaun Gregory, ‘The French military in Africa: Past and present’, African Affairs 99, 396 (2000), pp. 435–448. 10. Yves Gounin, La France et l’Afrique (De Boeck, Louvain-la-Neuve, 2009), p. 90. 11. For a more detailed consideration of these institutions, see Danielle Domergue-Cloarec, La France et l’Afrique après les indépendances (SEDES, Paris, 1994). 12. CADN, 134PO/1/95 Ministère des Affaires Etrangères (hereafter MAE), ‘Note’ undated (1970s folders). 13. For further details on these issues connected with the ‘françafrique’ concept, see François Xavier Verschave, La françafrique: Le plus long scandale de la république (Stock, Paris, 1998). 14. Philippe Marchesin, ‘Mitterrand l’Africain’, Politique Africaine 58 (1995), pp. 5–24, p.12. 15. Interview, Jean François Dupaquier, French aid worker in Burundi from 1971 to 1973, Enghien-les Bains, France, 7 December 2014. 16. Around 65 percent of French exports to the continent and 50 percent of its African imports went to, and came from, the pré carré. Nevertheless, it provided and received no more than 3–4 percent of all French imports and exports. UN Comtrade, ‘France, import and export’, 1970–1985, <http://comtrade.un.org> (21 February 2018). 17. Most of the strategic resources imported from the continent came from South Africa and Nigeria. Daniel Bach, La politique africaine de Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (Centre d’Etude d’Afrique Noire, Bordeaux, 1984), p. 26. 18. ANF, AG/5(3)/1415 Ministry of Cooperation ‘Appraisal of the cooperation policy’ 27 September 1979. 19. AMAEC, 1089INVA/185 ‘Extracts from General de Gaulle’s speeches (1960–1966)’, Press conference at the Elysée 09 June 1965. This rhetoric is linked to the ‘grandeur’ concept, see Maurice Vaïsse, La grandeur: Politique étrangère du général de Gaulle, 1958–1969 (Fayard, Paris, 1998). 20. Support depended on the international orientation of the African State and the issue in question. ANF, AG/5(4)/DP/49 Jean Christophe Mitterrand (Presidential Advisor on African affairs) ‘Note to the President’ 17 Juliet 1987. 21. ANF, AG/5(4)/BD/8 Gilles Vidal (Presidential Advisor on Diplomatic Affairs) ‘French African policy’, 30 March 1990. 22. Written interview, René Lemarchand, Historian of the Great Lakes Region, 21 July 2015. 23. National Archives (hereafter NA), Foreign and Commonwealth Office (hereafter FCO), 31/1103, Simon Dawbarn (FCO, West Africa Department) – R.M.K. Slater (UK embassy in Kampala), 2 February 1972. 24. CADN, 134PO/1/155 French Embassy in Bujumbura – MAE-DAM no. 3 DA/DAM, 5 November 1982. 25. NA, FCO 45/2204 Nicholas Henderson (UK Embassy in Paris) – David Owen (FCO) no. 177/78, 23 June 1978. 26. CADN, 134PO/1/110 ‘Press conference by the Minister of Cooperation Jean Pierre Cot’, 2 September 1982. 27. For more details on French policy in Anglophone Africa, see the works of Daniel Bach, Anna Konieczna, and Joanna Warson. 28. Service Historique de la Defense (hereafter SHD), GR12S618 Robert Larzul (Military Advisor at the French Embassy in Kinshasa) – Chief of Staff no. 339/zai/fa/cd, 7 November 1979. 29. CADN, 318PO/A/61 Moreau – MAE-DAM no. 177/DAM, June 1979. 30. In May–June 1972, the Bujumbura regime committed genocide against the Hutu élite in the country. 31. Jean François Bayart and Stephen Ellis, ‘Africa in the world: A history of extraversion’, African Affairs 99, 395 (2000), pp. 217–267. 32. Interview, Filip Reyntjens, historian of the Great Lakes region, Anvers, Belgium, 27 August 2014. 33. Tony Chafer, ‘Franco-African relations: No longer so exceptional?’, African Affairs 101, 404 (2002), pp. 343–363, p. 356. This paragraph suffers from the limit of being based mainly on Western sources. Nevertheless, the multi-archival research is a guarantee of the reliability of its content. 34. AECCD, Dossier no. 17.965 Film no. P3101 Luc Ceyssens (Belgian Ambassador to Burundi) – Tindemans no. 163, 3 February 1983. 35. For more information on this point, see Jean Pierre Chrétien and Jean François Dupaquier, Burundi 1972: Aux bords des génocides (Karthala, Paris, 2007). 36. CADN, 134PO/1/106 Bernard – Henri Jobert (Minister of Foreign Affairs) ‘Rwanda, Burundi and the Caravels’ no. 73/CAB/M, 27 March 1974. 37. This drop in aid was due to a general reduction in French aid to Africa at the beginning of the 1980s. CADN, 318PO/A/38 Manière – Poncet no. 48/DAM, 7 February 1979. 38. OECD, ‘Official Development Assistance’, <http://stats.oecd.org> (10 September 2018). 39. CADN, 318PO/A/44 MAE-DAM ‘Note on Habyarimana’, April 1985. 40. The three states did not sign defence treaties for several reasons, not least the fact that the 1970s context of North–South relations made it an anachronistic choice. Nevertheless, the evidence of history reveals the blurred nature of the boundaries between defence and technical assistance treaties. André Dumoulin, La France militaire et l’Afrique (GRIP, Bruxelles, 1997), p. 28. 41. CADN, 134PO/1/173 Rey-Coquais – Claude Cheysson (Minister of Foreign Affairs) no. 375/DAM, 6 December 1982. 42. CADN, 134PO/1/107 Rey-Coquais – Dumas no. 91/DAM, 13 January 1985. 43. CADN, 318PO/A/38 Jacques Leclerc (French Ambassador to Rwanda) ‘Military Cooperation with Rwanda’, 28 October 1983. 44. CADN, 318PO/A/38 Jeanne Ducret (MAE) ‘Commercial and cooperation exchanges between France and Rwanda’, 28 October 1983. 45. AMAEC, 347QO/30 Point of economic expansion at the French embassy in Kigali no. 341/DAM, 18 August 1983. Commercial centres are the first economic contact point that France opened in African states in order to establish steady economic connections. 46. AMAEC, 347QO/3 Manière – de Guiringaud no. 4/DAM, 13 January 1977. 47. CADN, 318PO/A/42 Tel. no. 468 Robert Puissant (French Ambassador to Rwanda) – MAE-DAM, 9 November 1985. 48. CADN, 318PO/A/59 Amoudru – MAE-DAM no. 22/DA/DAM, 26 May 1978. 49. SHD, GR12S644 French Embassy in Kinshasa – Defence Ministry no. 316/ZAI/FA/CD, 31 October 1978. 50. CADN, 134PO/1/106 Jean Fèvre (French Ambassador to Burundi) – MAE-DAM no. 58/DA/DAM, 11 August 1980. 51. SHD, GR12S618 Tel. no. 231–233 Amoudru – MAE-DAM, 7 June 1978. 52. Interview, Colette Braeckman, correspondent of ‘Le Soir’ for the Great Lakes region, Ferrara, Italy, 4 October 2014. 53. CADN, 134PO/1/113 Tel. no. 207 Leclerc – MAE, 24 September 1982. 54. OECD, Official Development Assistance, <http://stats.oecd.org> (10 September 2018). The small size of the two states influenced their limited importance, but did not explain it completely. 55. CADN, 318PO/A/120 Point of economic expansion in Nairobi ‘Information sheet’ no. 4/84, April 1984. The reflections on the size of the two countries for cooperation relations (see above) are also valid with regard to economic links. 56. Interview, François Rey-Coquais, French Ambassador to Burundi from 1983 to 1986, Saint Jean Soleymieux, France, 4 July 2015. 57. CADN, 134PO/1/113 MAE ‘Note’ 1984. 58. Interview, François Rey-Coquais. 59. This was, in any case, a common interpretation among external interlocutors of the two countries at that time. See AECCD, Dossier no. 17.002 Film no. P2811 Ruelle (Belgian Ambassador to Burundi) – Van Elslande (Minister of Foreign Affairs) ‘Final Mission Report’, 23 February 1977. 60. ANF, AG/5(F)/1010 Foccart (Secratariat for African and Malagasy Affairs) – Diefenbacher (Ministry of the Interior, SCTIP), 20 Juliet 1972. Once again, this attitude was common among external partners. 61. ANF, AG/5(F)/2179 MAE-DAM no. 59/DAM, 20 July 1972. 62. Interview, Jean Marie Ndagijimana, Rwandan Ambassador to France in 1994, Orléans, France, 2 July 2015. 63. This ‘idea’ of France recalls the concept of genie français (French essence), a concept difficult to grasp, which refers to France as a motherland of human rights and Western civilization and as a generous country with specific responsibilities towards the African continent. Tony Chafer and Emmanuel Godin, The end of the French Exception? (Palgrave, New York, 2009), p. 227. 64. The most important French projects of these years were the hospitals in Ruhengeri and Gisenyi, the hotel in Gisenyi and the university in Ruhengeri. 65. Scandal that broke out in 1986 regarding the French Association ‘Carrefour de Developpement’, which was in charge of organizing the Franco-African summit of Bujumbura in 1984. Part of the French public money given to the Association was transferred to finance the electoral campaign of the French Minister of Cooperation, Christian Nucci, and part of it was pocketed by Burundian and French officials. See CADN, 134PO/1/102 for a collection of articles about the scandal published over the years. 66. Interview, Marc Van Bellinghen, Attaché at the Belgian Embassy in Kigali from 1984 to 1988, Bruxelles, 23 June 2015. 67. CADN, 318PO/A/43 French Embassy in Kigali ‘Belgium and Rwanda: political relations’, May 1979. 68. AECCD, Dossier no. 17.800 Film no. P2994 Tel. no. 281 Pierre Van Coppenolle (Belgian Embassy in Bujumbura) – Charles Fernand Nothomb (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), 10 February 1981. 69. CADN, 318PO/A/61 French Embassy in Bujumbura – MAE-DAM no. 14/DA/DAM, 12 March 1981. 70. Interview, Jean Pierre Chrétien, Historian of the Great Lakes Region, Paris, 27 March 2015. 71. Interview, Johan Swinnen, Attaché at the Belgian Embassy in Bujumbura from 1978 to 1982, Ambassador to Rwanda from 1990 to 1994 and the DRC from 2004 to 2008, Brussels, 23 June 2015. 72. Interview, Christine Deslaurier, historian of the Great Lakes region, Skype call, 21 July 2015. 73. Such as French expansion of influence towards Anglophone Africa. CADN, 134PO/1/97 Tel. no. 1093 Dabezies (French Ambassador to Gabon) – MAE-DAM, 15 December 1984. 74. Interview, André Guichaoua, historian of the Great Lakes region, Paris, 9 July 2015. 75. Between 1990 and 1993 France sent three special military operations to Rwanda (NOROIT, DAMI-PANDA and Chimera), strengthened its military presence in the country and increased arms supply to Habyarimana’s regime. After an official military withdrawal, following the Arusha Agreement (August 1993), the controversial Operation Turquoise (July 1994) achieved French military escalation in the country. 76. See footnote 1. 77. French policy in Rwanda between 1990 and 1994 opened a debate in France about its African Policy. By the end of the 1990s, this debate, which had no precedent in the country, resulted in some reforms to the traditional Franco-African system. See Yves Gounin, La France et l’Afrique (De Boeck, Louvain-la-Neuve, 2009). In this context, Paris established a Parliamentary Commission to inquire into French responsibilities in the Rwandan genocide: Assembleé nationale, Rapport d’information parlementaire (Rapport Quiles), 15 December 1998. 78. ANF, AG5(4)/BD/58 Georges Martres (French Ambassador to Rwanda) ‘Final Mission Report (1989–1993)’. 79. ANF, AG5(4)/BD/10, Bruno Delaye (Presidential Advisor on African affairs) ‘Note to the President of the Republic’, 15 February 1993. 80. Pierre Favier and Michel Martin-Roland, La Décennie Mitterrand 4: Les déchirements (1991–1995) (Seuil, Paris, 1999), p. 463. 81. Almost all of the authors who have analyzed Franco-Rwandan relations in the 1990s mention the role of the Fashoda Complex. See, as the most authoritative ones, Jean Pierre Chrétien, Le défi de l’ethnisme: Rwanda et Burundi 1990–1996 (Karthala, Paris, 1997); André Guichaoua, Les crises politiques au Burundi et au Rwanda (1993–1994) (Karthala, Paris, 1995); René Lemarchand, The dynamics of violence in Central Africa (University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, PA, 2008); Gerard Prunier, The Rwanda crisis, 1959–1994: History of a genocide (Columbia University Press, New York, NY, 1995), Filip Reyntjens, L’Afrique des Grands Lacs en crise: Rwanda, Burundi, 1988–1994 (Karthala, Paris, 1994). 82. Claudine Vidal and Marc Le Pape, ‘Les politiques de la haine: Rwanda, Burundi 1994–1995’, Special Number Les Temps Modernes 583 (1995). 83. See, for example, François Xavier Verschave, Noir silence (Les Arènes, Paris, 2000). 84. Since 1992 several disquieting denunciations of the Rwandan events started to come out. The allegations of Christophe Mfizi and Janvier Afrika and the reports from several International Human Rights Organizations are emblematic in this sense. For a summary, see Allison Des Forges, ‘Leave none to tell the story’ (Human Rights Watch, New York, 1999). 85. Samy Cohen, Mitterrand et la sortie de la guerre froide (Press Universitaire de France, Paris, 1998), p. 283. 86. For a more detailed reconstruction of the Burundian crisis, see André Guichaoua (ed.), Les crises politiques au Burundi et au Rwanda, 1993–1994 (Karthala, Paris, 1995). 87. Several authors underline that the closeness of the Secretary-General Boutros Ghali to France guaranteed that the management of the African crisis was in line with French interests. Linda Melvern, A people betrayed (NAEP, Cape Town, 2000), pp. 71–77. 88. For a summary of the chief accusations against France for its policy in Rwanda, see Laure Coret and François Xavier Verschave, L’horreur qui nous prend au visage (Karthala, Paris, 2005). 89. Franco-Burundian relations were not altered drastically during Pierre Buyoya’s presidency (1987–1993). For a more detailed reconstruction of this period, see Filip Reyntjens, L’Afrique des Grand Lacs en crise, Rwanda Burundi:1988–1994 (Karthala, Paris, 1994). 90. This conclusion is consistent with the broader literature on Franco-African relations. See footnote 4. 91. Most of the literature on the French policy in Rwanda between 1990 and 1994 tends to relate French involvement to the traditional ‘francafrique’. See the bibliography of François Xavier Verschave and of the Associations Agri Ici and Survie. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal African Society. All rights reserved This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png African Affairs Oxford University Press

On the margins of the Françafrique: Franco-Burundian and Franco-Rwandan bonds from an historical perspective

African Affairs , Volume Advance Article (468) – Apr 21, 2018

Loading next page...
 
/lp/ou_press/on-the-margins-of-the-fran-afrique-franco-burundian-and-franco-rwandan-r0bfdKhJLY
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Copyright
© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal African Society. All rights reserved
ISSN
0001-9909
eISSN
1468-2621
D.O.I.
10.1093/afraf/ady013
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Abstract The article comparatively analyses Franco-Burundian and Franco-Rwandan relations during the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s. From the 1970s, the two former Belgian colonies were integrated into the complex political, economic, cultural and military system that France implemented with its former colonies. By the mid-1980s, Paris achieved a formal co-optation of the two states in the traditional Franco-African order, with more success in Rwanda than in Burundi. Nevertheless, in both cases this co-optation was partial: the interconnections between Paris, Bujumbura and Kigali in 1985 were not as intense and as close as the other traditional Franco-African bonds. The article explores the process of inclusion of the two states in the pré carré africain français. The purpose is to highlight the main features of the relationship between Paris, Bujumbura and Kigali and to evaluate the results achieved by 1985 through an historical and in-depth analysis. The article contributes significantly to existing knowledge on Franco-African relations, and provides a better understanding of the Franco-Burundian and Franco-Rwandan dynamics that emerged in the early 1990s. France’s involvement in the Rwandan genocide has been analyzed by a number of scholars, but most of the existing literature focuses on the links between Paris and Kigali from the beginning of the Rwandan civil war (October 1990) until the Operation Turquoise (June 1994).1 This article fills a gap by studying the most significant developments in Franco-Rwandan ties between the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s. It also analyses the contemporary links established by Paris with Burundi, Rwanda’s false twin. Indeed, no interpretation of Franco-Rwandan relations can ignore the Franco-Burundian links. Moreover, Paris also played a role in the Burundian crisis of the 1990s; hence the importance of an in-depth examination of the historical premises of these developments. The article covers the decade from 1974 to 1984, as it was during the 1970s that the two former Belgian colonies were gradually integrated into the complex mechanism of political, economic, cultural and military links that France developed with its pré carré africain.2 The research ends with the first half of the 1980s, because the period that followed was influenced by different dynamics that fall outside the sphere of interest of this study. The article is based on Western diplomatic documents and interviews. Most of the diplomatic documents consist of telegrams and political reports from the 1970s and 1980s, coming from embassies and central ministries (principally foreign affairs, interior and defence) of the main Western partners of Burundi and Rwanda of the time: Belgium, France, United Kingdom and United States. This material was collected during archival research in the four Western countries between 2013 and 2016. The interviews took place between 2013 and 2016 and involved French ambassadors in Burundi and Rwanda between 1970 and 1985, as well as some experts on Burundian and Rwandan history and France’s Africa policy. Unfortunately only a few ambassadors were available for interview3; whereas, several scholars proved ready to collaborate with the research. Using unreleased and unpublished primary sources, the analysis looks at a well researched subject—traditional Franco-African relations—from the perspective of two countries that have been virtually ignored by the literature. Most of the existing knowledge on France’s African policy focuses on the political, military, economic and cooperation links that France developed with its former colonies in West and Central Africa.4 Case studies and general reflections on these relations during the post-independence period abound, but no scholar has focused on French contemporary policy in Rwanda and Burundi. This study broadens our knowledge of Franco-African relations by adopting an original and unexplored point of view. At the same time, the co-optation of Burundi and Rwanda into the pré carré africain français can be interpreted as an expression of French strategy to expand its influence in sub-Saharan Africa in the 1970s. This is another subject that has not been investigated to any great extent, except for some research on French links to certain Anglophone countries such as Rhodesia, South Africa and Nigeria.5 This study provides a more in-depth view of this policy and compares the widening of French influence over Francophone and Anglophone states. Moreover, the diverse international orientations of Burundi and Rwanda in this period allow us to reflect on French policies towards ‘progressive’ and ‘moderate’ African states.6 This is an interesting issue to explore in order to understand how the international orientation of African interlocutors affected France’s strategies on the continent. Finally, the reconstruction of the long-term dynamics of the Franco-Burundian and Franco-Rwandan ties can be seen as a pre-requisite for informed insight into developments in French policy towards the two states during the 1990s. In the period under review, it is possible to retrace some characteristics of the French policy that subsequently affected Paris’ future choices in the two countries. The relevance of cultural links between the three states, the growing closeness within their military milieu that played a key role in French strategies of the 1990s (above all in Rwanda), and France’s limited and stereotyped knowledge about local contexts are emblematic in this sense. At the same time, this analysis enables us to debunk some conjectures about alleged structural elements of the Franco-Rwandan and Franco-Burundian relations of the 1990s. Many analyses implicitly assume that France’s policy towards the two countries resulted from the so-called ‘traditional’ Franco-African alliance.7 As this article demonstrates, however, Franco-Burundian and Franco-Rwandan relations never assumed the characteristics of the traditional Franco-African links. The French policy towards the two countries in the 1990s must be understood considering different dynamics. In particular, factors such as the political turmoil on the continent in that period and the pressure of Francophone allies played a relevant role. A comparative perspective highlights the diverging responses of the French government towards the Burundian and Rwandan crises. The analysis demonstrates how distinct relations established between the three states help to explain France’s apathy in Burundi and France’s activism in Rwanda between 1990 and 1994. The aim of this article is not to find a direct, causal link between what happened in the 1970s and 1980s and subsequent events, but rather to contribute to a deeper understanding of the original characteristics and purposes of the actors involved and the multifaceted, though indirect, linkages between the two periods. After providing an overview of the main characteristics of ‘traditional’ Franco-African relations, the article analyses the links established by France with Burundi and Rwanda in the decade under consideration and reflects on the aims of Paris and its African counterparts in the context of this relationship. What is it that makes Franco-African relations so special (1974–1984)? The Fifth Republic established a special link with France’s former African colonies. Created at the beginning of the 1960s by General Charles de Gaulle and his right-hand-man for African affairs, Jacques Foccart, this unique relationship was maintained throughout the entire period under review. The peculiarity of the Franco-African relationship lies in the importance, exclusive nature and quality of the links between Paris and its former colonies on the African continent. In terms of cooperation, Francophone states absorbed approximately 40 percent of total French aid, and France was the only Western country that guaranteed significant military assistance to certain African states after independence.8 In addition to a dozen technical assistance agreements, Paris signed eight defence treaties and installed six military bases in sub-Saharan Africa.9 A special ministry (the Ministry of Cooperation) was placed in charge of civil and military aid exclusively for Francophone African states, and even though abolition of this ministry was debated, a single French cooperation agency was only created in 1998.10 Apart from this cooperation, a series of specific political and economic institutions, such as the Franc zone, the annual Franco-African summits and the numerous organizations and associations linked to the galaxy of ‘Francophonie’, made Franco-African links unique.11 The specificity of Franco-African connections originated from the direct, personal and multilevel bonds between French and African élites, which was nourished by mutual official and unofficial visits throughout the decades. The rhetoric used to describe Franco-African exchanges, with its references to the concept of ‘family’, reflected this particular system masterfully.12 The peculiarities of the Franco-African links led France to establish paternalistic ties with this group of states, which caused a number of distortions, from encouraging the misuse of aid to facilitating corruption and underhanded transfers of funds.13 French documents also often displayed bias in their perception of African counterparts, reiterating a form of ‘cultural alienation’14 or ‘paternalistic racism’15 towards them. One might wonder whether a more detached relationship would have helped the French gain a deeper understanding of their African interlocutors, and overcome old prejudices and facilitate new approaches. The reasons why France maintained these special bonds with its pré carré africain can be divided into strategic, economic, cultural and political arguments. Economic interests played a smaller role in maintaining the relationship. During the period under scrutiny, although French commercial stakes in Francophone Africa were higher than they were in Anglophone territories, they were still limited compared to other geographical areas.16 Even though certain Francophone African states were important in terms of direct French investment, they played a marginal role at a macro-economic level.17 Nevertheless, the ‘tied aid’ formula and the commercial clauses that were often included in cooperation agreements demonstrate how Paris sought to make its African connections as profitable as possible.18 In order to find a more general explanation for the Franco-African relationships, it is necessary to refer to the cultural and political reasons behind them. ‘Génie français’ (French genius) and a sense of responsibility and historical boundaries were the cultural cornerstones of the Franco-African discourse. As the motherland of human rights and Western civilization, France could not renounce its international vocation,19 and its colonial experience made Sub-Saharan Africa a privileged area of intervention. As far as political interests are concerned, France’s influence in Africa provided the opportunity to demonstrate its economic, political, cultural and military strength to the rest of the world. It also granted Paris a network of states that were willing to support its positions in a number of different contexts. African support was never accidental and yet not guaranteed either.20 The most important political aspect of the Franco-African relationship was, however, that it enabled France to set itself apart as a middle power with influence over a geographical area that was larger than its political and economic status could ever have granted it. As late as 1990, an official document claimed that ‘the French role on the world stage depends largely on the audience that she has on the African continent, on the positions she takes to defend African interests’.21 France was the only Western power that supported African states to play their own role in the world to such a degree. It was within this framework that Paris’ policy in Burundi and Rwanda was situated. Why co-opt Burundi and Rwanda? Burundi and Rwanda were not part of the historical pré carré africain français, but following independence, they were progressively co-opted into the French sphere of influence, a process that became particularly evident and intense during the 1970s. The two former Belgian colonies were poor in strategic resources and raw materials. Thus, France acted chiefly for political and cultural purposes. Its interest in Bujumbura and Kigali derived first of all from their francophonie. In these two contexts, an extension of influence was perceived by Paris as a kind of natural and – considering the size of the two countries – economical course of action.22 A propos the francophonie issue, during the 1990s, several scholars reconnected French activism in Rwanda to the so-called ‘Fashoda complex’ (which extended to the United States). The fear that the two former Belgian colonies might prove attractive to the Anglophone world was present in some documents from the 1960s, but it subsided in the period under review.23 This reduction in French concerns was principally due to the failure of the East African Community and the lack of American attention towards the two countries after the stabilization of nearby Zaire.24 This did not mean, however, that French competition with the ‘Anglosaxons’ in the region disappeared; as the British Ambassador to Paris underlined in 1978, referring to the Shaba II operation (although his comment could be extended to Burundi and Rwanda) ‘I would not say that the Fashoda complex has been completely resolved (…) there is a constant aversion to being seen to play second fiddle to the Americans’.25 Beyond the issue of francophonie and the resulting competition with English-speaking countries, the two former Belgian colonies also assumed specific importance for Paris in the light of the broader French African strategy of the time. From the 1970s onwards, France attempted to extend its influence on the African continent beyond its historical pré carré as a result of its ambition to be a ‘bridge between the North and the South’ of the world.26 This ambition became particularly strategic in the 1970s, when ‘the South’ sought more space at an international level. In order to be credible as a privileged interlocutor, however, France needed to strengthen its appeal in the Third World. The African continent seemed to be the easiest context within which to act, and Burundi and Rwanda were among the first French partners from this perspective. French interventions in Burundi and Rwanda were more direct and successful in terms of influence than they were in Anglophone African countries. The latter were never co-opted into the traditional Franco-African system, and French choices towards these states were often driven by more clearly evident economic stakes.27 One further important aspect to consider in order to acquire an understanding of the French approach to Burundi and Rwanda is their geographical position. On the one hand, they were both ‘hinge countries’ between Anglophone and Francophone Africa, with an important symbolic and economic value as ‘springboard countries’ for potential economic penetration into East Africa and as a pillar of the French presence in the region.28 On the other hand, both Burundi and Rwanda had borders with rich Zaire; their stability and loyalty was strategic for maintaining the status quo in the region, and observing and intervening in the rich neighbour if necessary.29 To all these arguments we must add Cold War dynamics. In both countries, the ‘West’ was represented by Belgium, which was small and continually threatening to withdraw from its former colonies (it withdrew in Burundi after 1972 with regard to military cooperation).30 Thus, from the perspective of Paris, a French presence was particularly urgent. Burundi and Rwanda had their own interests in acquiring closer ties to France and were actively engaged in approaching Paris – thereby confirming the primary role and responsibility of African states in their external relations in this period.31 Both Burundi and Rwanda wished to diminish their dependence on their former colonial power and to acquire new external partners.32 ‘Progressive’ Burundi needed to exit from its international isolation arising out of the events of 1972, while ‘moderate’ and Western-oriented Rwanda was looking for an external partner to satisfy its international ambitions. French reputation on the African continent was, or was claimed, to be that of a generous, status quo asserting power, a third party engaged in keeping the bipolar confrontation away from the continent. It was therefore seen as a valid partner by both Bujumbura and Kigali.33 As the Belgian Ambassador to Burundi stated with some annoyance, Paris’s actions were encouraged by the two African countries, which perceived its interventions as ‘with no hidden political agenda’.34 The Burundian authorities also had the opportunity to experience French reliability in terms of assurance of the status quo in case of need, directly during the events of 1972.35 The co-optation of Burundi and Rwanda into the Franco-African system By the beginning of the 1970s, the two former Belgian colonies already belonged to almost all of the associations and organizations of the ‘francophonie’. After visits by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Yvon Bourges, in 1969 and the Head of the Secretariat for African and Malagasy Affairs, Jacques Foccart in 1971, the two countries fell within the sphere of the Ministry of Cooperation, and received growing civil and military aid from Paris, with a tightening of economic and political links with France (see Figures 1 and 2). Figure 1 View largeDownload slide Official development assistance (constant prices, Index 1974 = 100) Figure 1 View largeDownload slide Official development assistance (constant prices, Index 1974 = 100) Figure 2 View largeDownload slide Military aid (constant prices, Index 1975 = 100) Figure 2 View largeDownload slide Military aid (constant prices, Index 1975 = 100) French cooperation with Burundi and Rwanda assumed the same principal characteristics as other French interventions in Francophone Africa. It was mainly based on bilateral aid, which was often given in the form of a gift (through the Fonds d’Aide Publique), with a heavy technical and cultural component and rich in prestige initiatives.36 Both in Burundi and in Rwanda, French cooperation focused on the university and healthcare sectors, and its sphere of action was only expanded to infrastructure at the end of the 1970s. The amount of aid given to the two countries was similar, if slightly larger in Rwanda (except for the period between 1982 and 1984),37 but its relative importance was greater in Burundi, because Kigali received more assistance from the international community.38 This discrepancy in the level of generosity shown towards the two states was certainly due to the varying diplomatic abilities of the Burundian and Rwandan élites (the latter were far more at ease in international relations),39 but it probably also depended on the different international reputation of the two countries (see below). Furthermore, Rwanda’s international affiliations presumably helped the country secure more international aid than its southern false twin. In the sphere of military cooperation, France signed technical assistance (not defence) treaties with both states: in 1969 with Burundi for the air force section of the army, which was extended to its land forces in 1974, and in 1975 with Rwanda for its gendarmerie, which was gradually extended to the army as a whole.40 Unlike in the case of civil cooperation, French military assistance to the two countries was separated; it was provided to different sectors of the army, and followed a distinct strategy. In the Burundian case, military aid grew slowly, above all during Mitterrand’s Presidency. During the 1970s, if we do not consider direct aid, Burundi received more military support than Rwanda. Specifically, France sent more military personnel to the country and accepted to train more Burundian soldiers in France, compared with Rwanda. However, French direct aid to Kigali was much higher than to Bujumbura. Until the arrival of Mitterrand, French military links with Rwanda were essentially based on important gifts of helicopters, airplanes, and so on, but with the arrival of the Socialist Presidency, French military cooperation with the country was ‘normalized’. Direct aid was dropped in favour of technical assistance and the number of Rwandan trainees in France increased. The distinct paths of French military cooperation in the two countries were due principally to the different international connections of Burundi and Rwanda in this field and to their differing international reputations. After 1972, Burundi received no significant military aid from any Western State except France, and it established strong links in this sector with Eastern Bloc countries, especially the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia and Algeria.41 At the same time, the Burundian authorities still had to restore their international image following the massacres of 1972 and they were representatives of the Tutsi ‘minority’ group (see below). Against this background, France’s main purpose was probably to give continuity and constancy to its military links to Bujumbura, but discreetly, and in this it succeeded: by the mid-1980s, France provided almost 56 percent of Burundian military purchases, engendering only limited controversy.42 The Rwandan President, on the other hand, was considered by the international community to be an ‘enfant prodige’, and the level of French favouritism towards him was spectacular. Furthermore, the Belgians continued to provide significant military support, allowing the French to concentrate on significant, though irregular, donations.43 The development of cooperative relations meant the expansion of economic links (see Figures 3 and 4). From 1974 to 1984, Burundian and Rwandan imports from France increased notably, above all in Rwanda, where in some years they tripled their real value compared with 1974. Burundian and Rwandan exports to France, on the other hand, remained anchored to the international prices for coffee and tea. Only Rwandan exports increased in value. During the years under review, the balance of payments of the two countries remained largely in favour of France. French imports never exceeded 60 million Francs, while exports reached as high as 200 million. Figure 3 View largeDownload slide Imports from France (constant prices, Index 1974 = 100) Figure 3 View largeDownload slide Imports from France (constant prices, Index 1974 = 100) Figure 4 View largeDownload slide Exports to France (constant prices, Index 1974 = 100) Figure 4 View largeDownload slide Exports to France (constant prices, Index 1974 = 100) By the end of the 1970s, the first French enterprises had opened branches in Burundi and Rwanda. They were the same companies in both countries (SGEEM, FOUGEROLLE, SPIE-BATIGNOLLE), and all these companies were connected to cooperation transactions (commissions and purchases).44 In 1982, the first commercial centre was opened in Kigali. It was also responsible for Burundi, where it arrived only two years later, symbolizing the economic hierarchy of the two countries regarding Paris.45 The growth of cooperation and economic links between France, Burundi and Rwanda was followed by some improvements in political relations. Burundian and Rwandan support for French positions in the international arena increased during this period, although a noteworthy difference can be observed between the two states due to their distinct international profiles. Even though France played a more important economic and military role in Burundi than it did in Rwanda (in relative but not absolute terms), it was President Juvenal Habyarimana, and not President Michel Micombero or Jean Baptiste Bagaza, who sought to be perceived as a ‘loyal ally’ of France. He wanted his relations with Paris to mirror the traditional Franco-African model. Habyarimana was appointed President of Organisation Commune Africaine et Malgache twice (in 1974 and 1977). In January 1977 he claimed to feel that he was a ‘full member of the Franco-African family’,46 and on several occasions he displayed a deep understanding of France’s African policy. The Rwandan president publicly supported almost all the political (Eurafrique, Trilogue, North-South Dialogue), economic (NOEI, various funds for Africa) and military initiatives launched by President Valery Giscard d’Estaing in the 1970s, and maintained his support for President François Mitterrand over the following decade.47 As a ‘moderate state’, Rwanda had nothing to lose and everything to gain by showing its loyalty to France. Conversely, although the Burundian authorities did not criticize either Giscardian or Mitterrandian policy on the continent publicly, they tended not to support them explicitly.48 The élites of Bujumbura sought to balance solidarity with France against their regional and international alliances in a difficult game of skirts, a common position among ‘progressive’ Francophone states at the time. If we consider, for instance, French military interventions on the continent in the second half of the 1970s – the most controversial aspect of Giscard’s African policy – the different attitudes of the Rwandan and Burundian leaderships become evident. Habyarimana publicly approved almost all of them, to the point where following the Shaba II operation, he praised ‘French loyalty in its engagements towards African friends’.49 Bagaza, on the other hand, adopted a more ambiguous attitude; he let his prime Minister Nzambimana thank the Western powers for their engagement in Zaire,50 but at the same time allowed Burundian national radio to define the meeting in Paris after the operation as a ‘new Berlin Conference’.51 Even their behaviour at Franco-African summits confirmed the differing approaches of the Rwandan and Burundian authorities towards France. Rwanda always sent a high profile delegation (with Habyarimana), while Burundi tended to send its Minister of Foreign Affairs (Bagaza only attended the Kigali summit, besides the one held in Bujumbura). Even though the representatives of both states were described as isolated and not fully at ease, the Rwandan delegates were far more active than the Burundians, intervening in almost all the summits and reporting on a number of issues.52 These differing reactions and attitudes of the two sets of African élites reflected a truly different level of closeness to France in this period. The more explicit Francophilia of the Rwandan authorities made Franco-Rwandan relations stronger than Franco-Burundian relations. The French authorities worked out (even though they did not implement them, at least until 1985) a number of measures for Rwanda that they never worked out for Burundi, such as inclusion in the Franc Zone, the introduction of Rwandan uniforms for French military advisors and the establishment of regular Franco-Rwandan military meetings to exchange information on the region. The latter two are particularly meaningful in the light of the events of the 1990s.53 Franco-Burundian and Franco-Rwandan relations in perspective The attitude of France towards the two former Belgian colonies should not lead us to overestimate the importance of these relationships for Paris. As far as cooperation links are concerned, Burundi and Rwanda absorbed only 3.3 percent of French aid to the pré carré between 1974 and 1984. This was undoubtedly higher when compared to 1970–1973, when they received just 1.4 percent of that aid, but it remained a limited portion of the French cooperation effort towards Francophone Africa.54 As far as economic relations are concerned, despite their objective growth (above all, as we have seen, as regards imports from France), they continued to be marginal from a French perspective. During the period under consideration, Burundi and Rwanda were the 35th and 31st suppliers and the 28th and 27th African clients for Paris, respectively. Despite numerous governmental attempts to increase private investment, French entrepreneurs did not invest there, allowing Belgians to manage most of the market, and even to distribute French products in the two states.55 From a political and cultural point of view, the French authorities continued to know very little about local dynamics in both contexts, relying mostly on Belgian information and interpretations.56 Their lack of knowledge also led them to express a number of prejudices regarding Burundian and Rwandan realities. The interpretation of the origin of the two principal ethnic groups in certain French documents from the period is a good example. Although the Hamitic hypothesis had been superseded by the 1970s, the Quai d’Orsay was still recalling the Hamitic origins of the Tutsi in 1984.57 Belgian documents from the same years did not use these terms. The overall impression is that the use of these expressions by the French was due more to the laziness of civil servants, who merely copied passages from previous documents, than it was to actual agreement with their content.58 Nevertheless, even if this is the case, it raises an interesting (and disquieting) point in the light of some French understandings of the 1990s events. Two further points on this issue are also worthy of mention. One is a second misleading interpretation of the two groups, in particular a tendency to confuse a demographic majority with political representativeness. The Hutu regime in Kigali was considered to be ‘more democratic’ than the Tutsi regime in Bujumbura because it represented ‘the majority of the population’.59 The other sheds light on the pragmatism of French African policy of the time. The fact that during the period under review Burundi and Rwanda were ruled by two ‘ethnocracies’ that answered to the Tutsi and Hutu, respectively, and asserted their legitimacy based on ethnicity, had no effect on decisions taken by France unless it risked damaging its reputation. In a number of documents, the French authorities wondered about the consequences of supporting ‘the government of the minority’ in Burundi, but the debate only related to France’s image in neighbouring Rwanda and among the Hutu majority in Burundi.60 Considering that Rwanda was satisfied with its aid and that the Hutu majority did not seem to be close to gaining power in Burundi, the French concluded that it was better not to cut off relations with the Burundian Tutsi, but to support them prudently, avoiding any actions that might be perceived by the Hutu as discriminatory.61 Returning now to the cultural relationship between the three countries, in the first half of the 1980s the French were not establishing personal links with Burundian and Rwandan élites. If one makes a comparison with traditional Franco-African relations, one sees that Paris adopted a low-profile policy. French advisors had neither the confidence nor the freedom of action they benefited from in the pré carré; Franco-Burundian and Franco-Rwandan relations did not achieve the levels of intimacy or semi-exclusivity they did in other Franco-African relationships, and Belgium remained the principal point of reference for both countries.62 Nonetheless, the Burundian and Rwandan élites internalized the rhetoric of ‘a certain idea of France’, as did their Francophone colleagues on the continent, and transmitted it in their public discourses.63 Although flattering Paris was one of the aims of these Heads of State, their positions cannot be interpreted as being mere pandering, but should be considered to be the result of a process of appropriation of French culture. In addition, some initial signs of the distortions arising out of the personalization of relations in the Franco-African system began to be revealed in the Franco-Burundian and Franco-Rwandan bonds. It is sufficient to mention just one example for each country: the priority in aid policy afforded to President Habyarimana’s home region in Rwanda64 and the ‘carrefour de developpement’ scandal in Burundi.65 All things considered, it is reasonable to take the position that Burundi and Rwanda had only been partially co-opted into the Franco-African system by the first half of the 1980s. The two countries were formally integrated into the pré carré because they were participants in almost all of its principal institutions, but there was a significant difference in terms of the intensity and quality of relations with France compared with other Francophone States. The partial nature of this co-optation was no accident; local resistance from the Burundian and Rwandan authorities, as well as the Belgians, played an important role in structuring the relations between Paris, Bujumbura and Kigali. Unlike Paris, Brussels did not base its relationships with its ex-colonies on the principle of exclusivity and allowed other actors to intervene in its former colonies. This was due to both cultural and political reasons (the Belgians did not have the same international ambitions as the French and did not count on their ex-colonies to satisfy them) and economic rationales (Brussels could not afford to have its own post-independence African empire).66 This attitude on the part of Belgium allowed France to assert itself progressively in Burundi and Rwanda. Nevertheless, when French influence and prestige in the two countries became more evident during the 1970s, the Belgian authorities in loco (above all from the Flemish side) manifested a certain amount of ‘suspicion and rancour’.67 In Belgian documents, the French were defined as ‘old foxes’, who caused ‘longing’,68 and during a visit to Bujumbura, the Belgian Foreign Minister claimed that the French had to be thought of as ‘competitors’ in the two African countries.69 Belgian irritation towards France’s influence in Burundi and Rwanda did not cause any friction between the two European allies in other contexts,70 but it forced Paris to proceed more cautiously. Even the Burundian and the Rwandan authorities showed some resistance against strengthening their relations with France. On the one hand, the cultural characteristics of the two countries made them quite closed in and historically suspicious of foreigners – far different from the more open West African cultures – and this factor complicated French actions.71 On the other hand, the Belgians had not accustomed the Burundian and Rwandan élites to the kind of relationship Paris established with its former colonies, which was based on a supposed confidentiality, direct links and informality, which made it even more difficult for them to feel comfortable with it.72 This being the case, forcing the establishment of a ‘traditional Franco-African relationship’ with Burundi and Rwanda did not seem appropriate to Paris. The kind of relations that was eventually established based on prestige and formal co-optation but not complete assimilation into the Franco-African system was probably the best option for French purposes. It allowed France to broaden its leverage and to monitor and influence the international conduct of the two African states, avoiding ‘Eastern deviances’ from Burundi and maintaining Rwandan ‘loyalty’ so as to ensure a basis in the region (which was near the Congo) and to protect ‘francophonie’ in a border context. France was able to achieve this immediately with the minimum cost to it in economic (cooperation) and political (Belgian annoyance) terms. The fact that Habyarimana’s attempts to strengthen Franco-Rwandan relations were not indulged by Paris would seem to confirm that the partial co-optation of the two former Belgian colonies into the Franco-African system was no accident. Furthermore, French documents never mention the possibility of taking a qualitative leap in relations with the two countries. It is worth underlining, in any event, that this French decision was not dictated by pressures from other African Francophone states. While the influence of certain African leaders on a number of French African policy decisions is acknowledged in both the literature and the archives, the Francophones did not seem to perceive the broadening of French influence in Burundi and Rwanda as a threat, as had been the case in other contexts.73 If one takes this background into account, French policy in Burundi and Rwanda in the 1970s and the first half of the 1980s can be considered to be a success story for France. Only the economic side confounded French expectations. The constant appeals to intensify commercial links were not followed by concrete actions, and the two countries never became an economic stepping-stone to East Africa. As regards France’s Burundian and Rwandan counterparts, it is possible to make the case that the situation was somewhat different. Bujumbura’s principal frustrations derived from the limited answers it received to its requests for aid, a common disappointment among underdeveloped countries at the time; whereas for Kigali, dissatisfaction had also a political dimension. France continued to refuse to transform Franco-Rwandan links into a relationship that was more similar to the traditional Franco-African situation. In any event, however, this deception was probably more limited than the Rwandans claimed at the time. The French were skilful enough to comply with many of their requests, and although Kigali had committed to France, it probably had no interest in loosening its ties with Brussels in order to jump into an exclusive relationship with Paris.74 1974–1984 and the 1990s At the beginning of the 1990s, Burundi and Rwanda entered a period of serious turmoil. As far as the Rwandan crisis is concerned, Paris responded promptly to the 1990–1993 Rwandan civil war and the subsequent 1994 genocide, trying to defend until the very last moment Habyarimana’s regime with growing military and political support.75 The literature on French involvement in the Rwandan events is vast.76 Most of these works, however, are not reliable in scientific terms, giving too much room to journalistic speculations or being affected by the contemporary political debate about French African policy.77 Inquiring into French responsibilities in Rwanda at the beginning of the 1990s is not the aim of this article. For the purpose of this analysis, it suffices to recall, by way of summary, the words of Georges Martres, French Ambassador in Kigali between 1989 and 1993, and Bruno Delaye, French Presidential Advisor on African Affairs between 1992 and 1994. In his Final Mission Report, Martres spoke of French ‘indisputable indirect support’ towards Habyarimana78 and in a document dated of 1993, Delaye stated that France was ‘at the limit of co-belligerence’ in Rwanda.79 In light of the preceding analysis, it is possible to affirm that French engagement in Rwanda was not the result of structural elements in terms of intense and strict historical bonds that made Franco-Rwandan links something comparable to the ‘traditional Franco-African relation’, but it was mainly related to historical contingencies. The beginning of the 1990s was characterized in the African context by political turmoil and incertitude. Franco-African relations went into a period of distress, and several African countries started to call into question French loyalty.80 By intervening in Rwanda, Paris aimed to reassure its Francophone African allies (not only, and probably not primarily, the Rwandans) about French reliability in the case of need. Rwanda was suited particularly to this purpose: it was an allied legitimate regime (perceived in this way, as demonstrated before, by the other Francophones) that was going through an external military attack. Even if contingency played an indisputable role in French engagement in Rwanda, the preceding analysis helps us to understand two peculiar aspects of Paris’ support to Habyarimana’s regime. First, the politico-cultural purposes that played a crucial role in the approach to the country were endangered in the 1990s by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), an Anglophone military group. As underlined before, the role of the Fashoda complex in French Africa’s policy should not be overestimated (nor in the decade 1974–1984, nor in the 1990s). Nevertheless, considering the relevance for Paris of ‘Francophonie’ in the Rwandan context outlined by this study, it is possible to claim that the Fashoda complex influenced some French environments in front of the RPF invasion.81 Second, several authors have underlined how the French, in particular the military personnel that played a leading role in French strategies of the 1990s,82 were influenced by the Hamitic hypothesis in their (mis)interpretations of the Rwandan crisis (the RPF was mainly composed by Tutsi).83 The preceding analysis has confirmed that sometimes limited and stereotyped knowledge informed the French approach to the country between 1974 and 1984. In particular, the Hamitic origin of the Tutsi was actually recalled in some French documents of the time. This study has also demonstrated how military links played a growing role in Franco-Rwandan relations from the second half of the 1970s. In this sense, the Hamitic hypothesis may have played a role in the 1990s. French choices between 1990 and 1994 reveal that Paris did not have a deep knowledge of the local context. If the French had properly understood Rwandan dynamics (in terms of politics, power struggles and interethnic relations), they would have probably disengaged instead of getting involved in the crisis.84 In addition, the confusion between demographic and political majority was still present in some official declarations of the 1990s.85 As far as the Burundian crisis is concerned, French official reactions were less visible compared with the Rwandan case. Although the French Embassy in Bujumbura hosted the legitimate government in search of protection after the failed coup d’etat of 1993, Paris did not engage further in the local situation,86 letting the United Nations to play a dominant role.87 Several elements illustrate the divergent French attitude in Burundi and Rwanda. Some explanations derive from the different nature of the two crises. In Rwanda the situation was read by Paris as an external military aggression to a legitimate (and allied) regime. While in Burundi it was evidently an ‘internal affair’, involving a part of the army and the newly elected civilian elite. This point imposed a more prudent attitude. Moreover, already in 1993, and above all after 1994, the growing international and internal criticism towards French African policy induced Paris to act more cautiously, especially in non-strategic contexts such as Burundi.88 It is reasonable to conclude that the distinct tone of the relationship established by France with Burundi and Rwanda in the previous decade also played a role in the different French reactions. France did not intervene on behalf of the Burundian government because they were unknown newly elected authorities with no particular links with French elites. At the same time, Paris did not engage in favour of the old Burundian authorities (rallied in the army) because they never got as close to the French as the Rwandans.89 Moreover, as this analysis has demonstrated, the former leadership of the country never gained the full support of the other Francophone African states that could push Paris towards a more active approach. Conclusions This analysis of the development of Franco-Burundian and Franco-Rwandan ties has enabled us to study traditional Franco-African relations from a previously unexplored standpoint. Paris’s interest in the two former Belgian colonies should be understood in light of the broader French strategy of expansion of its influence in Sub-Saharan Africa. Nevertheless, the relations established by France with Burundi and Rwanda must be compared with traditional Franco-African connections rather than with links with Anglophone African states. If one takes this framework into consideration, it becomes clear that the gradual integration of the two former Belgian colonies into the pré carré confirms that economic interests alone cannot explain French African policy. Paris’ involvement in Burundi and Rwanda was principally associated with political and cultural considerations.90 The choices made in the two states also illustrate the pragmatism of French African policy, which was only affected by international orientations and the ethnic justification of its African counterparts to a limited extent. Burundi was a ‘progressive, Tutsi-led’ state; whereas, Rwanda was a ‘moderate, Hutu-led’ country. No matter these differences, Paris aimed to co-opt both countries into its sphere of influence. The argument is crucial for a deeper understanding of developments in Franco-Burundian and Franco-Rwandan relations in the 1990s. This study does not claim to find a causal correlation between what happened in the decade 1974 to 1984 and the subsequent events. Given the lack of available analyses of the period between 1985 and 1990, a projection such as this cannot be established. Nevertheless, the co-optation of Bujumbura and Kigali into the French sphere of influence analyzed in this article can be considered to be the political premise for the events of the 1990s. This study sheds a pivotal light on the purposes underlying Paris’s approach towards Burundi and Rwanda and how they responded in turn, reflecting on the elements and constraints that shaped and limited the evolution of these connections. As a result, by the first half of the 1980s, Burundi and Rwanda had only been partially co-opted into the Franco-African system. While they had formally been integrated into the pré carré, their ties with France were far weaker than were those of the other Francophone states. It is crucial to bear this point in mind to avoid misreading the developments of the 1990s and to distinguish between historical contingencies and structural elements. At the beginning of the 1990s, France was a Burundian, and above all a Rwandan, ally, but these alliances did not have the same historical implications as they did in the rest of the pré carré. French responsiveness to Kigali between 1990 and 1994 should not be considered as an expression of the traditional ‘françafrique’: it was not linked to structural elements of Franco-Rwandan relation established in the decades before. Given the historical characteristics of the links between Paris and Kigali outlined in this article, France’s involvement in the country is better understood by referring to the regional and international context and their implications for Paris’ African agenda, rather than by referring to deep, official and unofficial links between Rwandan and French elites.91 At the same time, however, this study has revealed French attitudes towards certain issues in Burundi and Rwanda that played a crucial role in France’s reactions and (mis)interpretations of their subsequent crisis. The relevance of cultural links, the growing closeness within the military milieu and France’s stereotyped knowledge about local contexts are crucial points for the 1990s events and all of them have their roots in the decade 1974 to 1984. The tighter bonds established by Paris with Rwanda during the years under review contribute towards a deeper understanding of the diverse official French reactions to the Burundian and Rwandan crises of the 1990s (official apathy versus activism, respectively). Footnotes 1. For example, David Ambrosetti, La France au Rwanda (Karthala, Paris, 2000); Colette Braeckmann, Rwanda: Histoire d’un genocide (Fayard, Paris, 1994); Laure Coret, François Xavier Verschave, L’horreur qui nous prend au visage (Karthala, Paris, 2005); Human Rights Watch Arms Project, ‘Arming Rwanda’ (Human Rights Watch, New York, 1994), Olivier Lanotte, La France au Rwanda, 1990–1994 (PIE Peter Lang, Bruxelles, 2007); Linda Melvern, A people betrayed (NAEP, Cape Town, 2000); Andrew Wallis, Silent accomplice (IB Tauris, New York, 2006). 2. The pré carré africain is made up of the 16 French ex-colonies on the continent. The choice of 1974 as the starting year for this analysis derives from the aim to reflect on the presumed continuity of French African policy in the 1970s and the 1980s compared to the Gaullist period. 3. This is due to the fact that the period of analysis dates back to several years: many ambassadors of the time are not available for interviews anymore. This is particularly true for French ambassadors in Burundi and Rwanda; given the limited relevance of the two diplomatic posts, they tended to be given to ambassadors as their first post or, more frequently, as their last post. 4. See, for example, Jean François Bayart, La politique africaine de François Mitterrand (Karthala, Paris, 1984); Pierre Biarnes, Les Français en Afrique noire de Richelieu a Mitterrand (Armand Colin, Paris, 1987); Tony Chafer´and Emmanuel Godin, The end of the French exception? (Pal Grave, New York, 2009); John Chipman, French power in Africa (Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1989), Samy Cohen, Mitterrand et la sortie de la guerre froide (Press Universitaire de France, Paris, 1998); Yves Gounin, La France et l’Afrique (De Boeck, Louvain-la-Neuve, 2009). 5. See, for example, the research of Daniel Bach, Anna Konieczna, and Joanna Warson. 6. The categories ‘moderate’ and ‘progressive’, like all categories, suffer from the limitation of over-simplification. Despite the limitations, however, these labels allow the international orientation of the two countries to be defined succinctly. They were also used in the documents on which the article is based. 7. See footnote 1. 8. During the period under scrutiny, the pré carré received on average four times the amount of aid that the UK gave to its former African colonies. Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), ‘Official Development Assistance’, <http://stats.oecd.org> (10 September 2018). 9. Shaun Gregory, ‘The French military in Africa: Past and present’, African Affairs 99, 396 (2000), pp. 435–448. 10. Yves Gounin, La France et l’Afrique (De Boeck, Louvain-la-Neuve, 2009), p. 90. 11. For a more detailed consideration of these institutions, see Danielle Domergue-Cloarec, La France et l’Afrique après les indépendances (SEDES, Paris, 1994). 12. CADN, 134PO/1/95 Ministère des Affaires Etrangères (hereafter MAE), ‘Note’ undated (1970s folders). 13. For further details on these issues connected with the ‘françafrique’ concept, see François Xavier Verschave, La françafrique: Le plus long scandale de la république (Stock, Paris, 1998). 14. Philippe Marchesin, ‘Mitterrand l’Africain’, Politique Africaine 58 (1995), pp. 5–24, p.12. 15. Interview, Jean François Dupaquier, French aid worker in Burundi from 1971 to 1973, Enghien-les Bains, France, 7 December 2014. 16. Around 65 percent of French exports to the continent and 50 percent of its African imports went to, and came from, the pré carré. Nevertheless, it provided and received no more than 3–4 percent of all French imports and exports. UN Comtrade, ‘France, import and export’, 1970–1985, <http://comtrade.un.org> (21 February 2018). 17. Most of the strategic resources imported from the continent came from South Africa and Nigeria. Daniel Bach, La politique africaine de Valéry Giscard d’Estaing (Centre d’Etude d’Afrique Noire, Bordeaux, 1984), p. 26. 18. ANF, AG/5(3)/1415 Ministry of Cooperation ‘Appraisal of the cooperation policy’ 27 September 1979. 19. AMAEC, 1089INVA/185 ‘Extracts from General de Gaulle’s speeches (1960–1966)’, Press conference at the Elysée 09 June 1965. This rhetoric is linked to the ‘grandeur’ concept, see Maurice Vaïsse, La grandeur: Politique étrangère du général de Gaulle, 1958–1969 (Fayard, Paris, 1998). 20. Support depended on the international orientation of the African State and the issue in question. ANF, AG/5(4)/DP/49 Jean Christophe Mitterrand (Presidential Advisor on African affairs) ‘Note to the President’ 17 Juliet 1987. 21. ANF, AG/5(4)/BD/8 Gilles Vidal (Presidential Advisor on Diplomatic Affairs) ‘French African policy’, 30 March 1990. 22. Written interview, René Lemarchand, Historian of the Great Lakes Region, 21 July 2015. 23. National Archives (hereafter NA), Foreign and Commonwealth Office (hereafter FCO), 31/1103, Simon Dawbarn (FCO, West Africa Department) – R.M.K. Slater (UK embassy in Kampala), 2 February 1972. 24. CADN, 134PO/1/155 French Embassy in Bujumbura – MAE-DAM no. 3 DA/DAM, 5 November 1982. 25. NA, FCO 45/2204 Nicholas Henderson (UK Embassy in Paris) – David Owen (FCO) no. 177/78, 23 June 1978. 26. CADN, 134PO/1/110 ‘Press conference by the Minister of Cooperation Jean Pierre Cot’, 2 September 1982. 27. For more details on French policy in Anglophone Africa, see the works of Daniel Bach, Anna Konieczna, and Joanna Warson. 28. Service Historique de la Defense (hereafter SHD), GR12S618 Robert Larzul (Military Advisor at the French Embassy in Kinshasa) – Chief of Staff no. 339/zai/fa/cd, 7 November 1979. 29. CADN, 318PO/A/61 Moreau – MAE-DAM no. 177/DAM, June 1979. 30. In May–June 1972, the Bujumbura regime committed genocide against the Hutu élite in the country. 31. Jean François Bayart and Stephen Ellis, ‘Africa in the world: A history of extraversion’, African Affairs 99, 395 (2000), pp. 217–267. 32. Interview, Filip Reyntjens, historian of the Great Lakes region, Anvers, Belgium, 27 August 2014. 33. Tony Chafer, ‘Franco-African relations: No longer so exceptional?’, African Affairs 101, 404 (2002), pp. 343–363, p. 356. This paragraph suffers from the limit of being based mainly on Western sources. Nevertheless, the multi-archival research is a guarantee of the reliability of its content. 34. AECCD, Dossier no. 17.965 Film no. P3101 Luc Ceyssens (Belgian Ambassador to Burundi) – Tindemans no. 163, 3 February 1983. 35. For more information on this point, see Jean Pierre Chrétien and Jean François Dupaquier, Burundi 1972: Aux bords des génocides (Karthala, Paris, 2007). 36. CADN, 134PO/1/106 Bernard – Henri Jobert (Minister of Foreign Affairs) ‘Rwanda, Burundi and the Caravels’ no. 73/CAB/M, 27 March 1974. 37. This drop in aid was due to a general reduction in French aid to Africa at the beginning of the 1980s. CADN, 318PO/A/38 Manière – Poncet no. 48/DAM, 7 February 1979. 38. OECD, ‘Official Development Assistance’, <http://stats.oecd.org> (10 September 2018). 39. CADN, 318PO/A/44 MAE-DAM ‘Note on Habyarimana’, April 1985. 40. The three states did not sign defence treaties for several reasons, not least the fact that the 1970s context of North–South relations made it an anachronistic choice. Nevertheless, the evidence of history reveals the blurred nature of the boundaries between defence and technical assistance treaties. André Dumoulin, La France militaire et l’Afrique (GRIP, Bruxelles, 1997), p. 28. 41. CADN, 134PO/1/173 Rey-Coquais – Claude Cheysson (Minister of Foreign Affairs) no. 375/DAM, 6 December 1982. 42. CADN, 134PO/1/107 Rey-Coquais – Dumas no. 91/DAM, 13 January 1985. 43. CADN, 318PO/A/38 Jacques Leclerc (French Ambassador to Rwanda) ‘Military Cooperation with Rwanda’, 28 October 1983. 44. CADN, 318PO/A/38 Jeanne Ducret (MAE) ‘Commercial and cooperation exchanges between France and Rwanda’, 28 October 1983. 45. AMAEC, 347QO/30 Point of economic expansion at the French embassy in Kigali no. 341/DAM, 18 August 1983. Commercial centres are the first economic contact point that France opened in African states in order to establish steady economic connections. 46. AMAEC, 347QO/3 Manière – de Guiringaud no. 4/DAM, 13 January 1977. 47. CADN, 318PO/A/42 Tel. no. 468 Robert Puissant (French Ambassador to Rwanda) – MAE-DAM, 9 November 1985. 48. CADN, 318PO/A/59 Amoudru – MAE-DAM no. 22/DA/DAM, 26 May 1978. 49. SHD, GR12S644 French Embassy in Kinshasa – Defence Ministry no. 316/ZAI/FA/CD, 31 October 1978. 50. CADN, 134PO/1/106 Jean Fèvre (French Ambassador to Burundi) – MAE-DAM no. 58/DA/DAM, 11 August 1980. 51. SHD, GR12S618 Tel. no. 231–233 Amoudru – MAE-DAM, 7 June 1978. 52. Interview, Colette Braeckman, correspondent of ‘Le Soir’ for the Great Lakes region, Ferrara, Italy, 4 October 2014. 53. CADN, 134PO/1/113 Tel. no. 207 Leclerc – MAE, 24 September 1982. 54. OECD, Official Development Assistance, <http://stats.oecd.org> (10 September 2018). The small size of the two states influenced their limited importance, but did not explain it completely. 55. CADN, 318PO/A/120 Point of economic expansion in Nairobi ‘Information sheet’ no. 4/84, April 1984. The reflections on the size of the two countries for cooperation relations (see above) are also valid with regard to economic links. 56. Interview, François Rey-Coquais, French Ambassador to Burundi from 1983 to 1986, Saint Jean Soleymieux, France, 4 July 2015. 57. CADN, 134PO/1/113 MAE ‘Note’ 1984. 58. Interview, François Rey-Coquais. 59. This was, in any case, a common interpretation among external interlocutors of the two countries at that time. See AECCD, Dossier no. 17.002 Film no. P2811 Ruelle (Belgian Ambassador to Burundi) – Van Elslande (Minister of Foreign Affairs) ‘Final Mission Report’, 23 February 1977. 60. ANF, AG/5(F)/1010 Foccart (Secratariat for African and Malagasy Affairs) – Diefenbacher (Ministry of the Interior, SCTIP), 20 Juliet 1972. Once again, this attitude was common among external partners. 61. ANF, AG/5(F)/2179 MAE-DAM no. 59/DAM, 20 July 1972. 62. Interview, Jean Marie Ndagijimana, Rwandan Ambassador to France in 1994, Orléans, France, 2 July 2015. 63. This ‘idea’ of France recalls the concept of genie français (French essence), a concept difficult to grasp, which refers to France as a motherland of human rights and Western civilization and as a generous country with specific responsibilities towards the African continent. Tony Chafer and Emmanuel Godin, The end of the French Exception? (Palgrave, New York, 2009), p. 227. 64. The most important French projects of these years were the hospitals in Ruhengeri and Gisenyi, the hotel in Gisenyi and the university in Ruhengeri. 65. Scandal that broke out in 1986 regarding the French Association ‘Carrefour de Developpement’, which was in charge of organizing the Franco-African summit of Bujumbura in 1984. Part of the French public money given to the Association was transferred to finance the electoral campaign of the French Minister of Cooperation, Christian Nucci, and part of it was pocketed by Burundian and French officials. See CADN, 134PO/1/102 for a collection of articles about the scandal published over the years. 66. Interview, Marc Van Bellinghen, Attaché at the Belgian Embassy in Kigali from 1984 to 1988, Bruxelles, 23 June 2015. 67. CADN, 318PO/A/43 French Embassy in Kigali ‘Belgium and Rwanda: political relations’, May 1979. 68. AECCD, Dossier no. 17.800 Film no. P2994 Tel. no. 281 Pierre Van Coppenolle (Belgian Embassy in Bujumbura) – Charles Fernand Nothomb (Ministry of Foreign Affairs), 10 February 1981. 69. CADN, 318PO/A/61 French Embassy in Bujumbura – MAE-DAM no. 14/DA/DAM, 12 March 1981. 70. Interview, Jean Pierre Chrétien, Historian of the Great Lakes Region, Paris, 27 March 2015. 71. Interview, Johan Swinnen, Attaché at the Belgian Embassy in Bujumbura from 1978 to 1982, Ambassador to Rwanda from 1990 to 1994 and the DRC from 2004 to 2008, Brussels, 23 June 2015. 72. Interview, Christine Deslaurier, historian of the Great Lakes region, Skype call, 21 July 2015. 73. Such as French expansion of influence towards Anglophone Africa. CADN, 134PO/1/97 Tel. no. 1093 Dabezies (French Ambassador to Gabon) – MAE-DAM, 15 December 1984. 74. Interview, André Guichaoua, historian of the Great Lakes region, Paris, 9 July 2015. 75. Between 1990 and 1993 France sent three special military operations to Rwanda (NOROIT, DAMI-PANDA and Chimera), strengthened its military presence in the country and increased arms supply to Habyarimana’s regime. After an official military withdrawal, following the Arusha Agreement (August 1993), the controversial Operation Turquoise (July 1994) achieved French military escalation in the country. 76. See footnote 1. 77. French policy in Rwanda between 1990 and 1994 opened a debate in France about its African Policy. By the end of the 1990s, this debate, which had no precedent in the country, resulted in some reforms to the traditional Franco-African system. See Yves Gounin, La France et l’Afrique (De Boeck, Louvain-la-Neuve, 2009). In this context, Paris established a Parliamentary Commission to inquire into French responsibilities in the Rwandan genocide: Assembleé nationale, Rapport d’information parlementaire (Rapport Quiles), 15 December 1998. 78. ANF, AG5(4)/BD/58 Georges Martres (French Ambassador to Rwanda) ‘Final Mission Report (1989–1993)’. 79. ANF, AG5(4)/BD/10, Bruno Delaye (Presidential Advisor on African affairs) ‘Note to the President of the Republic’, 15 February 1993. 80. Pierre Favier and Michel Martin-Roland, La Décennie Mitterrand 4: Les déchirements (1991–1995) (Seuil, Paris, 1999), p. 463. 81. Almost all of the authors who have analyzed Franco-Rwandan relations in the 1990s mention the role of the Fashoda Complex. See, as the most authoritative ones, Jean Pierre Chrétien, Le défi de l’ethnisme: Rwanda et Burundi 1990–1996 (Karthala, Paris, 1997); André Guichaoua, Les crises politiques au Burundi et au Rwanda (1993–1994) (Karthala, Paris, 1995); René Lemarchand, The dynamics of violence in Central Africa (University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, PA, 2008); Gerard Prunier, The Rwanda crisis, 1959–1994: History of a genocide (Columbia University Press, New York, NY, 1995), Filip Reyntjens, L’Afrique des Grands Lacs en crise: Rwanda, Burundi, 1988–1994 (Karthala, Paris, 1994). 82. Claudine Vidal and Marc Le Pape, ‘Les politiques de la haine: Rwanda, Burundi 1994–1995’, Special Number Les Temps Modernes 583 (1995). 83. See, for example, François Xavier Verschave, Noir silence (Les Arènes, Paris, 2000). 84. Since 1992 several disquieting denunciations of the Rwandan events started to come out. The allegations of Christophe Mfizi and Janvier Afrika and the reports from several International Human Rights Organizations are emblematic in this sense. For a summary, see Allison Des Forges, ‘Leave none to tell the story’ (Human Rights Watch, New York, 1999). 85. Samy Cohen, Mitterrand et la sortie de la guerre froide (Press Universitaire de France, Paris, 1998), p. 283. 86. For a more detailed reconstruction of the Burundian crisis, see André Guichaoua (ed.), Les crises politiques au Burundi et au Rwanda, 1993–1994 (Karthala, Paris, 1995). 87. Several authors underline that the closeness of the Secretary-General Boutros Ghali to France guaranteed that the management of the African crisis was in line with French interests. Linda Melvern, A people betrayed (NAEP, Cape Town, 2000), pp. 71–77. 88. For a summary of the chief accusations against France for its policy in Rwanda, see Laure Coret and François Xavier Verschave, L’horreur qui nous prend au visage (Karthala, Paris, 2005). 89. Franco-Burundian relations were not altered drastically during Pierre Buyoya’s presidency (1987–1993). For a more detailed reconstruction of this period, see Filip Reyntjens, L’Afrique des Grand Lacs en crise, Rwanda Burundi:1988–1994 (Karthala, Paris, 1994). 90. This conclusion is consistent with the broader literature on Franco-African relations. See footnote 4. 91. Most of the literature on the French policy in Rwanda between 1990 and 1994 tends to relate French involvement to the traditional ‘francafrique’. See the bibliography of François Xavier Verschave and of the Associations Agri Ici and Survie. © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal African Society. All rights reserved This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)

Journal

African AffairsOxford University Press

Published: Apr 21, 2018

There are no references for this article.

You’re reading a free preview. Subscribe to read the entire article.


DeepDyve is your
personal research library

It’s your single place to instantly
discover and read the research
that matters to you.

Enjoy affordable access to
over 18 million articles from more than
15,000 peer-reviewed journals.

All for just $49/month

Explore the DeepDyve Library

Search

Query the DeepDyve database, plus search all of PubMed and Google Scholar seamlessly

Organize

Save any article or search result from DeepDyve, PubMed, and Google Scholar... all in one place.

Access

Get unlimited, online access to over 18 million full-text articles from more than 15,000 scientific journals.

Your journals are on DeepDyve

Read from thousands of the leading scholarly journals from SpringerNature, Elsevier, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford University Press and more.

All the latest content is available, no embargo periods.

See the journals in your area

DeepDyve

Freelancer

DeepDyve

Pro

Price

FREE

$49/month
$360/year

Save searches from
Google Scholar,
PubMed

Create lists to
organize your research

Export lists, citations

Read DeepDyve articles

Abstract access only

Unlimited access to over
18 million full-text articles

Print

20 pages / month

PDF Discount

20% off