- Unprecedented scene in the heart of Africa today. Tutsi who survived the massacres perpetrated in southwestern Rwanda took part in a mass this Sunday in the camp where they are gathered, a camp now placed under the protection of French soldiers from Operation Turquoise.
- Today, the French forces continued to penetrate towards the East inside the Rwandan territory, for the moment without serious incident.
- At sunrise, low on Lake Kivu, four Puma helicopters take away 34 men from the air commandos. Direction Kibuye, in the center of the Hutu country. The mission of these soldiers is no longer exploratory. They come here to settle. The first contacts will be brief. The prefect is not there, nor is the sub-prefect. The Rwandan soldiers seem completely disorganized.
- Analysis of the maps confirms the proximity of the front: around 60 kilometres. Kibuye is one of the priority objectives of the Rwandan Patriotic Front. He wants to cut the government zone in two.
- But the first mission of the French soldiers concerns these Sisters of the Congregation of Saint Mary. Rwandans of both ethnic groups, Belgians. For two months they have been trying to protect themselves against multiple attempts at aggression. They succeeded at the cost of one condition: not to welcome any refugees. Only exception, these two children. Sister Aurea Uwamariya, Congrégation Sainte Marie", speaking of a boy and a girl: "We think it was a little Tutsi. And the little girl who looked after the child was Hutu. The girl remained as the mother of the child. She said that he is Hutu to be protected".
- In the region of Gisenyi in Hutu country, took refuge what remains of the legal government which fled Kigali. Second incursion of French soldiers into the north of Rwandan territory. The convoy only crosses this seaside town of Gisenyi to avoid meeting the Rwandan government there. A political will of France.
- In Gisenyi, the Méridien hotel has become a rear base for this provisional government. All the ministers have a room there. Far from Kigali, in military uniform and in the armchairs of this hotel, the Prime Minister explains that his army has never worked in a logic of extermination of the Tutsi. Jean Kambanda: "There was no deliberate desire on the part of the government to exterminate ethnic groups because I believe that is when we are talking about genocide. That there was an ethnic war, this is not the first time that we have encountered such a phenomenon in the world. So there was a clash, ethnic, it is true. But there was no deliberate desire on the part of a group to totally exterminate another".
- Yet we will find outside the hotel the men of the militia of the regime, the Interahamwe, responsible for many massacres of Tutsi. Close guard of the Minister of Defense, also withdrawn to Gisenyi, at the head of 40,000 men. For him the enemy is not only the RPF, the Tutsis. Augustin Bizimana: "I would not say that we are fighting against the RPF. We are fighting against Uganda. We know that there is support from Belgium. We know that the Americans, at first, are deceived: they supported the action of the RPF".
- But for the envoy of the Pope, Cardinal Etchegaray, messenger of peace, it is the logic of war that must be stopped. Cardinal Etchegaray: "To cease fire also means, in Rwanda, to cease the machete, to cease the bow, to cease the spear".
- In the meantime, the provisional government is spending quiet days in Gisenyi, far from the front and close to the French.
- All the French soldiers participating in this Operation Turquoise are deployed on two rear bases on the Zaire border, Bukavu and especially Goma. Goma is the nerve center of this operation where already more than 1,000 men and 120 vehicles have been assembled.
- General Lafourcade is once again on the tarmac at Goma airport to control the ramping up of Operation Turquoise. The planes today carried out about fifty rotations, unloaded 500 tons of materials, armored vehicles and troops, including Senegalese reinforcements. 40 equipped men, fed by the French army, the African contribution to the operation.
- General Lafourcade is satisfied and he says so in a press conference in the hall of the airport: his first patrols did not encounter any hostility. The machetes have returned and the populations reassured, especially in the south of the country. Jean-Claude Lafourcade: - "These populations were fearful, traumatized by the previous months. And even inside the refugee camps where they were, they feared reprisals or exactions on the part of the militiamen who are in fact young people disorganized into small bands, and who are perhaps taking revenge for the previous situations". Benoît Duquesne: - "These same young people who today cheer you on when you arrive?". Jean-Claude Lafourcade: - "You can't say that the young people are cheering us on. I believe that the excited young people, who were perhaps at the origin of a lot of abuses, go into the shadows a little, hide their weapon or their machete and for the moment do not move".
- Unexpected consequence of this triggering of Operation Turquoise, the return to the saddle of the Zairian number one: Marshal Mobutu, hitherto increasingly shunned by the major capitals, has become an essential interlocutor by lending his territory. The Zairian opposition is very critical of this French intervention and the French soldiers are deployed in a region, in Zaire, where the inhabitants are rather hostile to the central power.
- When the French soldiers cross the border town of Bukavu, they do not leave Zairians unmoved. Some of them applaud, others watch without saying anything. And if the reception is on the whole rather favorable, everyone thinks of their own situation. A Zairian: - "We think that perhaps you are coming to protect Mobutu who is making us suffer".
- Given the increasingly confused political situation in Zaire, given the impossibility of finding there for four years the path to a democracy more or less accepted by all, the presence of French soldiers only heightens tensions. Especially since the economy is more and more catastrophic. The arrival of thousands of Rwandan refugees in recent weeks has not helped matters, prices have risen a little more. Anger too.
- Benoît Duquesne: "There are approximately 1,100 men who have now arrived on site. And the system, once completed, should rise to around 2,500 men. It will indeed take about ten days before the things are ready and that fixed points are established inside Rwanda to eventually move the whole system further into the country. So far we have the impression that the soldiers are a little divided between two things: on the one hand there is sometimes an embarrassment of being applauded by people who are known to have taken part in massacres, and at the same time, on the other hand, the certainty of taking part has something useful insofar as since they have been there, these massacres have stopped. And indeed, people say that peace is returning, at least in these regions. The region of Kibuye was the one that posed the most problems to the That's why this morning they sent a first det airborne support to reassure the population a little, in particular some American and English nuns who were there and some Tutsi orphans who felt threatened. There was another detachment which was passing overland and which did not reach Kibuye that evening. But according to our information, in this area, things are not going too badly".
- In the capital, Kigali, the situation is not improving, quite the contrary. Once again, the bombardments forced UN officials to postpone the evacuation of a number of refugees from this martyred capital. Laurent Boussié: "In Kigali the situation is deteriorating on the health level. And militarily, although the government soldiers seem to be recovering a little bit from the hair of the beast, the fighting is practically incessant. All day there have been bombardments and this evening, since 7 p.m., there has been a violent attack by the RPF on Mount Kigali held by government soldiers. As for the health situation, it is becoming very worrying: for six days, there has been no medical evacuation, there was no transfer of wounded. The United Nations had planned for today to evacuate 35 very seriously wounded from the Red Cross hospital to the King Faisal hospital, less exposed. At 10 a.m. this morning, these wounded were put in the trucks and ambulances. And at the same time, new bombings began in several areas of the city, including the downtown area where the Cross is located. Red Caught under this bombardment, the trucks could not start . At 5 p.m. this afternoon, taking advantage of a lull, hospital officials handed the injured over to the hospital. You can imagine these seriously injured wounded who had to spend seven hours without drinking, without treatment, under the sun and under the shells. […] The military front seems to be stabilizing, at least in the city of Kigali. The RPF attacks for the moment are repelled by government soldiers".
- The French military intervention is not unanimous, far from it. Example, this demonstration, today, in front of the French embassy in Brussels where a certain number of Rwandan but also Zairian demonstrators, all of Tutsi origin, chanted their anger at the French decision to intervene in Rwanda.