French troops aim to quit Rwanda soon

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The Independent Online
PARIS - France informed the UN Security Council yesterday that it intended to withdraw its troops from Rwanda by the end of July as scheduled, and asked the UN to speed up its plans to take their place, writes Julian Nundy.

Edouard Balladur, the Prime Minister, said that French and Senegalese forces in Rwanda 'cannot be a substitute for an operation which the Security Council has decided to mount. That is not their mission and that is not the intention of the French government which has, since the beginning of Operation Turquoise, indicated its intention of withdrawing its troops at the end of July.'

Mr Balladur's flying visit to New York could indicate concern on the part of the government in Paris that French troops are becoming bogged down in the Rwandese civil war. Last week Valery Giscard d'Estaing, the former President, criticised the decision to send troops into what looks like a no-win situation, reflecting doubts in the government coalition.

'My country,' said Mr Balladur, 'appeals urgently and solemnly to the international community for everything to be put in motion to allow the quick deployment of a strengthened Unamir (UN Assistance Mission in Rwanda).'

Apparently to dispel talk of collusion with the French- speaking Hutus, Mr Balladur said France would give the UN any information it found on the killers of hundreds of thousands of Tutsis, Rwanda's minority tribe. 'The perpetrators of the massacres will be held liable for their acts before the international community,' he said. But only the presence of 'a large UN force on Rwanda's territory will really allow the recovery of this country to begin by smoothing a return to stability and the development of humanitarian action.

France has complained that UN plans are too timid, and that a force of between just 1,200 and 1,500 men is all that can be expected by the end of the month.

(Photograph omitted)