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French press review 25 April 2015

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The French press has robust coverage of Africa, including the anti-xenophobic rallies in South Africa, the high-tension presidential elections in Togo, political unrest in Guinea and revelations that former US President Bill Clinton knew about the Rwandan genocide plot two years before it happened.


Le Figaro takes up intriguing revelations from Washington that Bill Clinton knew Hutu extremists in Kigali were preparing for the Rwandan genocide as early as 1992. That was two years before the downing of President Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane sparked the slaughter of 900,000 ethnic Tutsis in a 90-day killing spree. The damaging allegations are published in the latest issue of the respected Foreign Policy Review.

The author of the article is Colum Lynch, the award-winning UN-based senior diplomatic reporter. Washington knew exactly what was going to happen, he told Le Figaro, basing his charges on a series of astonishing testimonies by former Rwandan, American, Belgian and UN officials based in Kigali in the build-up to the 1994 genocide.

In the report, Lynch claims that the Number 2 at the US embassy in Kigali, Joyce Leader, sent a diplomatic cable to Washington in August 1992 warning about the Ku Klux Klan ethnic approach of an extremist party close to President Habyarimana suggesting a call for the extermination of Tutsis.

"We had a precise idea that a systematic massacre of Tutsis neighbourhood by neighbourhood was going to happen," Leader is quoted as saying in 2014. According to Le Figaro, Lynch’s findings are based on declassified internal White House memos.

General Romeo Dallaire, who commanded the UN peace mission in Rwanda in 1994, is quoted in the report as saying that Clinton put in place a black-out policy on what was about to happen in Rwanda. Lynch goes further in his charges against the former president. The situation in Rwanda, he ruled, was handled by second-rate bureaucrats due to Clinton’s lack of interest in Africa, according to Le Figaro

Libération examines the massive 'stop xenophobia' rallies held in Johannesburg in the aftermath of anti-immigrant violence which left more than 60 people killed and thousands fleeing the country over the past two weeks. An estimated 8,000 residents reportedly marched through some of the most dangerous districts of Johannesburg on Thursday, according to the paper.

Libé’s correspondent in Johannesburg says a new spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation filled the air not just at the rallies but also in communities where some of the most violent attacks on foreigners occurred, with some shouting out slogans such as, "we are all Zimbabweans".

Some demonstrators used the marches to vent their anger against the so-called "Toyi-Toyi", or fat cats of the ruling ANC party who they accuse of enriching themselves on the backs of the people   some so fat that they are unable to walk, according to voices relayed by Libération. The publication believes the rallies won't be enough to change the mentalities of poor South Africans who accuse foreigners of stealing their jobs.

According to the left-leaning newspaper, Parliament has added its voice to a growing coalition of religious and civil society organisations which have come out massively to condemn violence against African foreign nations, racism and intolerance.

South Africa’s lawmakers have reportedly moved a motion to suspend legislative sessions throughout next week to allow MPs time to carry through anti-xenophobic campaigns launched in their constituencies. One immigrant watching the trend of events taking place in the country told the paper how happy he is to see that all South Africans are not racist.

Le Monde is following the people of Togo who are voting this Saturday in an attempt to turn the page of violence in the West African country. A spokesman for the opposition National Alliance of Change led by veteran Jean-Pierre Fabre told the respected publication that they are on course to win the vote.

But he noted that the incumbent Faure Gnassingbe, whose family has ruled the country for 48 years, is not likely to accept the verdict from the ballot box and will rig the election.

Le Monde also monitoring the tense political climate in the West African nation Guinea recovering from decades of military dictatorship. The country is confronted by a double crisis – the Ebola epidemic and political unrest driven by the opposition which has opted for street action as its life wire.

Le Monde caught up with President Alpha Condé for a rare interview in which he discusses his four years in office. According to Condé the objective of the opposition is to try to reverse the gains of his rule by inciting the military to stage a coup d’état against his democratically-elected government. Condé also speaks out about the conspicuous silence of African leaders in the wake of the new migratory tragedy taking place in the Mediterranean, describing their attitude “a scandal”.