Rwanda History: the Problems of Independence

(République Rwandaise; Republika y’u Rwanda; Rwanda Republic). Central African state (26,338 km²). Capital: Kigali. Administrative division: provinces (12). Population: 9,330,000 residents (2008 estimate). Language: French, English and kinya Rwanda (official). Religion: Catholics 49.5%, Protestants 27.2%, Adventists 12.2%, animists / traditional beliefs 4.2%, Muslims 1.8%, others 5.1%. Currency unit: Rwanda franc (100 cents). Human Development Index: 0.435 (165th place). Borders: Uganda (N), Tanzania (E), Burundi (S), Democratic Republic of Congo (W). Member of: UN, AU and WTO, EU associate.


Following an agreement between the United Nations and Belgium, Rwanda became a sovereign and independent state on 1 July 1962 and proclaimed itself a Republic under the presidency of Grégoire Kayibanda. In December 1963 the Tutsis who took refuge in Burundi invaded Rwanda, but, despite the massacres carried out, they were unable to regain power. A strong tension between the two countries followed, which eased only in 1966 when Burundi also became a republic. Between the end of 1972 and the beginning of 1973 tensions between Hutus and Tutsis flared up and in July 1973 a coup d’état led by Hutu general Juvénal Habyarimana overthrew the government of Kayibanda. Habyarimana took over the country by founding in 1975 the National Revolutionary Movement for Development (Mouvement Révolutionnaire National pour le Développement, MRND), a single party comprising civilian and military representatives. In 1978 the new Constitution was approved by referendum and in December of the same year Habyarimana was reconfirmed as President of the Republic.

According to remzfamily, the members of the Legislative Assembly were duly elected in December 1981; in 1983 and 1988 Habyarimana was again confirmed as president. In June 1991, thanks to the changes made to the Constitution that opened up to multi-partyism and introduced the figure of the prime minister, Habyarimana appointed Sylvestre Nsanzimana of the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (Mouvement Républicain National pour la Démocratie et le Développement, MRNDD) to lead the government. Subsequently, the MRNDD and the opposition parties agreed on the creation of a national unity government whose leadership was entrusted to Dismas Nsengiyaremye, exponent of the Republican Democratic Movement (Mouvement Démocratique Républicain, MDR), one of the main opposition parties. He managed to sign an agreement with the Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR), but the hostility of the MRNDD caused the resumption of the fighting. In April 1994 the conflict accelerated following the death of Habyarimana in Kigali for the demolition of the plane on which he was traveling together with the president of Burundi C. Ntaryamira: the country fell into a bloody civil war between Hutus and Tutsis. The angry reaction of the presidential guard resulted in the massacre of the Tutsis, but also towards the Hutu opponents of Habyarimana (April 1994). The counter-offensive of the FPR (mostly Tutsi) was no less violent, resulting in a mass exodus of the Hutus, responsible for the previous massacre of Tutsis. While France, authorized by the UN, sent troops to protect civilians and ensure the distribution of humanitarian aid, the PRF attempted to demonstrate to international public opinion the alleged normalization by appointing Pasteur Bizimungu president of Rwanda and prime minister Faustin Twagiramungu, both Hutus (July 1994).

The new government, supported by the Tutsis, while affirming the goal of national reconciliation, he carried out repeated actions of ethnic cleansing, causing massive exodus of Hutu refugees to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania and Burundi. In April 1995, the conflict spread, also involving the Democratic Republic of Congo and causing a massive counter-exodus with thousands of dead and missing. The ferocity that had characterized the life of the country for years was not easily eliminated and the desire for revenge or retaliation represented a powerful obstacle to real peace. Even the international effort, aimed at identifying those responsible for the massacres, seemed thwarted by the shortage of Rwandan judges, killed during the civil conflict, with the result that still in 1997 the few trials started were forced to suffer long delays. In April 2000, after Bizimungu’s resignation, he was elected president of the Republic P. Kagame, strongman of the FPR, who appointed Bernard Makuza as prime minister. In July 2002 Kagame signed, with the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo J. Kabila, an important armistice that put an end to the conflict between the two countries. In August 2003, Kagame was reconfirmed as president following elections contested by international observers for the intimidating climate that had accompanied the electoral campaign. In April 2004, Rwanda violated the peace treaty signed in 2002 by sending troops to the Democratic Republic of Congo: the border area between the two countries, however, remained unstable and was fraught with clashes. As part of a national reconciliation plan promoted by the government, a pardon was proclaimed in 2007 for most of those responsible for the 1994 massacres. August 2010 Kagame was reconfirmed as president with over 90% of the votes.

Rwanda History - the Problems of Independence

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