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Rwanda’s Ambassador to Paris Recalled

November 24, 2006

PARIS (AP) _ Rwanda has recalled its ambassador to Paris after a French judge issued international arrest warrants for nine ranking Rwandans suspected of plotting the 1994 killing of the African nation’s president, the embassy said Friday.

Ambassador Emmanuel Ndagijimana left Paris late Thursday to return home for consultations, diplomat Parfait Gahamanyi said. The officials targeted by the French judge are close to Rwanda’s current president, Paul Kagame, and the decision has raised new tensions between the two countries.

The French anti-terrorism judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere suspects the nine were responsible for plotting the assassination or actually shooting down then-President Juvenal Habyarimana’s airplane on April 6, 1994 _ an act that sparked the country’s genocide.

After the plane was downed, militants from the Hutu ethnic majority, known as interahamwe, quickly set up roadblocks across the capital, Kigali, and on April 7 began killing Tutsis and moderate Hutus. More than 500,000 people were killed in 100 days.

Bruguiere alleged that Kagame instructed his rebel Rwanda Patriotic Front, or RPF, to shoot down the plane.

``The final order to attack the presidential plane was given by Paul Kagame himself during a meeting held in Mulindi on March 31, 1994,″ Bruguiere wrote in the warrant request. A copy was obtained by The Associated Press.

Immunity accorded by France to acting heads of state prevents French judicial authorities from issuing a warrant for Kagame.

Kagame criticized Bruguiere and his allegations, calling the judge ``an impostor, a politician″ in an interview Wednesday with France-Culture radio. He also promised that ties between the two countries would suffer.

Relations between France and Rwanda have been strained for years, with Kagame accusing France of doing too little to stop the genocide.

Those targeted by the arrest warrants include armed forces chief James Kabarebe and army chief of staff Charles Kayonga. Warrants also were issued for those suspected by the French judge of downing the plane _ Franck Nziza, said to be a captain in the presidential guard, and Eric Hakizimana of the secret service.

Bruguiere is investigating the case because the crew of Habyarimana’s plane was French. The families of the pilot, co-pilot and mechanic, who all died in the crash, filed a suit in France in 1998.

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