Arusha, June 9, 2010 (FH) - Four French deputies led by former minister Marylise Lebranchu on Tuesday spent a moment of silence before the Ntarama genocide memorial, about 50 kilometers from Kigali, as part of a visit to revive franco-Rwandan parliamentary friendship.

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The French delegation arrived in Rwanda on Monday for a visit aimed at "reviving the friendship group existing between the two parliaments", according to Rwandan parliamentary vice-president Denis Polisi.

This group stopped working in July 1994 at the end of the genocide, Kigali accusing Paris of supporting the former regime and playing a role in the massacres.

The four French deputies are due to meet the Presidents of both the Rwandan Senate and Parliament, Minister for Foreign Affairs Louise Mushikiwabo, Minister for Justice Tharcisse Karugarama and Prime Minister Bernard Makuza.

Rwanda broke off diplomatic ties with France in 2006 when a French judge accused Rwandan President Paul Kagame - a former rebel leader - and his aides of shooting down the plane of the late president Juvénal Habyarimana, the incident that sparked the genocide.  Judge Jean-Louis Bruguière issued indictments for nine top Kagame aides.

The two countries restored diplomatic ties in November 2009.

The normalisation of ties has continued with a visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Kigali in January, and Kagame's participation in the French-African summit in Nice at the end of May.


© Hirondelle News Agency