Rwanda severs ties with France as assassination row intensifies

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Relations between France and Rwanda have soured after a French judge said he suspected the Rwandan President of assassinating one of his predecessors.

Rwanda severed diplomatic ties with Paris and gave the French ambassador 24 hours to leave the country. Earlier the African country recalled its ambassador to Paris in protest against the judge's accusation that President Paul Kagame and nine other senior Rwandan officials may have been involved in the shooting down of an aircraft in April 1994. The attack, which killed the then president Juvenal Habyarimana, led to the genocide of President Kagame's own Tutsi community by Hutus.

The judge, Jean-Louis Bruguière, issued arrest warrants for nine the officials on Tuesday. Because France cannot try the head of state of another country, he suggested that President Kagame should face charges before a UN tribunal.

Rwanda has angrily rejected the allegations. "For the past 12 years, France has waging ... war against the government of Rwanda, hoping to overthrow it and re-instate to power allies and perpetrators of the genocide," a Foreign Ministry statement said.

Paris, which has been trying to improve relations with Rwanda, has dismissed this allegation.