Pre-colonial Rwanda was a highly centralized Kingdom
presided over by Tutsi kings who hailed from one one ruling clan. The king
ruled throught three categories of chiefs: cattle chiefs; land chiefs; and
military chiefs. The chiefs were predominantly, but not exclusively,
Batutsi, especially the cattle and military chiefs. While the relationship
between the king and the rest of the population was unequal, the
relationship between the ordinary Bahutu, Batutsi and Batwa was one of
mutual benefit mainly through the exchange of their labour. The
relationship was symbiotic. A clientele system called "Ubuhake" permeated
the whole society.
In 1899 Rwanda became a German colony. After the defeat
of the germans during WW1, subsequently in 1919 Rwanda became a mandate
territory of the League of Nations under the administration of Belgium.
The Germans and the belgians administered Rwanda through a system of
indirect rule. During this colonial era, a cash crop economy was
introduced in Rwanda, and this was administered through harsh methods that
further alienated the King and his chiefs from the rest of the
In 1935 the Belgian colonial administration introduced
a discriminatory national identification on the basis of ethnicity.
Banyarwanda who possessed ten or more cows were registered as Batutsi
wheras those with less were registered as Bahutu. At first, the belgian
authorities, for political and practical reasons, favoured the King and
his chiefs, who were mostly a Batutsi ruling elite. When the demand for
independence began, mainly by a political party - Union Nationale
Rwandaise (UNAR) - formed by people from the aforementioned ruling elite,
the Belgian authorities hastily nurtured another party called PARMEHUTU
that was founded on a sectarian ethnic ideology. Under the Belgian
supervision, the first massacres of Batutsi at the hands of the PARMEHUTU
occured in 1959. With Belgian connivance, PARMEHUTU abolished the monarchy
amidst widespread violence. On July 1st, 1962 Belgium granted formal
political independence to Rwanda.
From 1959 onwards, the population of Batutsi was
targeted, causing hundreds of thousands of deaths, and a population of
almost two million Rwandese people in the Diaspora that was to last almost
The First Republic, under President Gregoire
Kayibanda, institutionalised discrimination against Batutsi and
periodically used massacres against this targeted population as a means of
maintaining the status quo. some Rwandese groups in the diaspora
attempted, without success to stage a comeback through armed
In 1965 Rwanda was declared a one-party state under
MDR/PARMEHUTU, which was the architect of the racist ideology that was to
be consolidated in the Second Republic under President Major General
In 1973 President Kayibanda was deposed in a
coup d'etat that brought Major General Habyarimana to power. Subsequently,
President Kayibanda and many prominent politicians of the First Republic
were killed. More Batutsi were killed.
In 1975 President
Habyarimana formed the Mouvement Revolutionaire Natinale pour le
Developpement (MRND), a single ruling party that was to promulgate in 1978
a sham constitution that repeatedly returned him to office by organising
"elections" in which he was the sole candidate.
Both the First and
second Republics repeatedly stated that Rwanda was a small, overpopulated
country that could not accomodate Rwandese refugees if they were to
return. Increasingly, the population across the ethnic lines was
marginalised and impoverished while Habyarimana's regime became more
violently intolerant. The divisions within the ruling Bahutu clique that
culminated in the coup d'etat of 1973 became more heightened in the 1970s
and 1980s when the clique talked of Bahutu of the north and Bahutu of the
south. Political activities remained banned.
THE RWANDESE PATRIOTIC FRONT (RPF):
Against a backdrop of entrenched divisive and genocidal
ideology, repeated massacres, the persistent problems of refugees in the
Diaspora, and the lack of avenues for peaceful political change, the
Rwandese Alliance for National Unity (RANU) was formed in 1979 by some
Rwandese in the Diaspora with an objective of mobilising Rwandese people
to resolve these problems. Almost a decade later, in 1987, RANU became the
Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF), whose objectives were:
- To promote national unity and reconciliation;
- To establish genuine democracy;
- To provide security for all Rwandese;
- To build an integrated and self-sustaining economy;
- To eradicate corruption in all forms
- To repatriate and resettle Rwandese refugees;
- To devise and implement policies that promote the social welfare of
all Rwandese and;
- To pursue a foreign policy based on equality, peaceful co-existence
and mutual benefit between Rwanda and other countries.
THE ARMED STRUGGLE:
Most of the world had never heard of the RPF until
October 1st, 1990 - the day the war of liberation against the military
dictatorship in Kigali began.
Taking up arms was not an easy
decision to make. War has always been the last option in the consideration
of the RPF. However, all efforts for peaceful and democratic change in our
country had so far proved futile.
It had become apparent that only
by taking up arms could anyone wishing to put an end to the dictatorship
and the violation of our peoples' fundamental rights hope to succeed. The
regime had ammassed a huge coercive state machinery using violence to
oppress the people. The taking up of arms against the regime was therefore
considered not just a right, but also a patriotic and national obligation.
When the war began, Rwandese peasants and workers, students and
intellectuals, men and women from every region and "ethnic" or social
group, responded to the call of the Rwandese Patriotic Front to rid our
country of dictatorship.
With the beginning of the armed struggle,
France, Belgium, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire)
hurriedly dispatched troops to Rwanda to support the dictatorial
THE SEARCH FOR PEACE:
As the war for liberation escalated, RPF still attempted
to seek peaceful ways of resolving the conflict. On March 29th, 1991, in
the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the RPF and the then Government of
Rwanda signed the N'sele Ceasefire Agreement which provided for, among
other things, cessation of hostilities, withdrawal of foreign troops,
exchange of prisoners of war and finally, seriuos political negotiations
to end the conflict. immediately after signing the agreement, the
Government of Rwanda ridiculed the said agreement as the war
As the regime became more desperate, massacres of
Batutsi in various parts of the country became widespread in a delibrate
effort of ethnic cleansing. The regime used violence to harass and silence
the emerging internal political opposition. Violence was also used to
derail the peace process. After a long period of negotiation that took
place in arusha, tanzania, the Arusha Peace Agreement was signed on August
The Arusha Peace Agreement was preceeded by the signing
of the agreement on a new ceasefire, as well as parties agreeing on the
- That there was neither democracy nor the practice of the rule of law
- That a broad-based government of national unity, including parties
of different political persuasions was necessary to oversee the
transition to democracy;
- That the rwandese army was not national in character and that it was
necessary to set up a truly national army from among members of the two
- That Rwandese refugees have a legitimate inalienable right to return
THE ARUSHA PEACE AGREEMENT:
Peace Agreement was structured around five pillars:
- The establishment of the rule of law;
- Repatriation and resettlement of refugees and internally displaced
- The integration of armed forces;and
- Other miscellaneous provisions.
It was particularly the power-sharing arrangements that
threatened members of the regime. The Arucha Peace Agreement threatened
the basis of their power and privilege, which they had so far enjoyed
without serious challenge. Given the fact that they had always relied on
the army as the instrument of maintaining their grip on power at any cost,
it is clear why they were very opposed to the idea of integration of the
The Arusha Peace Agreement was signed on August 4th,
1993 and was supposed to have been implemented within 37 days, beginning
with the establishment of the institutions of the presidency, cabinet and
the National Assembly. A United Nations force was supposed to oversee this
process. RPF honoured all its commitments when in December 1993 it sent
600 of its troops to Kigali, as well as members of the Executive who were
supposed to be members of the transitional government. The mind of the
regime on the other hand, was focused on the preparation for genocide.
The Arusha Peace Agreement was never implemented although its
principal provisions now constitute the Fundamental Law of the Republic of
The first massacres in Rwanda took place in 1959.
Thereafter, almost in a regular manner, killings of the Batutsi became a
habit. In the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s massacres of Batutsi
were common. Between April and July 1994, over 1 million Rwandese people,
mainly Batutsi and some Bahutu opposition were killed by the genocidal
regime. So many people were involved in the killings. Those who planned
and organised the genocide include the late President, Major General
Juvenal Habyarimana, top government officials, including members of the
so-called Provisional Government, the presidential Guard, the National
Gendarmerie, the Rwanda Government Forces (FAR), the MRND-CDR militia
(Interahamwe), local officials, and many Bahutu in the general
Preparation to carry out genocide by these groups
involved the training of the militia, the arming of both the militia and
some sections of the population, the establishment and widespread use of a
hate radio called Radio television Libre de Mille Collines (RTLM), and the
distribution of lists of those who were to be targeted. Repeatedly, these
groups prevented the establishment of the Arusha Peace Accords.
When the genocide began, the United Nations had a peacekeeping
force - the United Nations Assistance for Rwanda (UNAMIR) - in Rwanda of
about 2500 troops. The first reaction of the United Nations, and indeed of
other nations that had their own nationals in Rwanda, was to withdraw
their troops and their nationals respectively. Under the circumstances the
RPF had to fight again in order to stop the genocide.
THE FALL OF THE GENOCIDAL REGIME
On July 4th, 1994, the capital city of Rwanda, Kigali,
fell to the forces of the Rwandese Patriotic Army(RPA), the armed wing of
the RPF. The members of the so-called Provisional Government, the armed
groups, and many people who were involved in genocide, fled mainly to the
DRC and Tanzania. Over 3 million refugees fled to Tanzania and the DRC. On
July 19th, 1994, RPF established the Government of National Unity with
four other political parties. These parties are the Liberal Party (PL),
the Social Democratic Party (PSD), the Christian Democratic Party (PDC),
and the Republican Democratic Movement (MDR).
Weeks later, the
National Assembly was formed. Members were nominated by the RPF, the four
above-mentioned parties plus three other smaller parties, namely, the
Islamic Party (PDI), the Socialist Party (PSR), and the Democratic Union
for Rwandese People (UDPR). In this parliament of 70 seats, the Rwandese
Patriotic Army (RPA) has 6 representatives
HIGHLIGHTS OF RWANDA'S RECENT HISTORY
The Berlin Conference is held on the
division of Africa between Europen Nations.
German captain, von Gotzen, is recieved by the Rwandan monarch, King
Kigeli IV Rwabugili.
Rwanda becomes part of German
East Africa along with Burundi and Tangayika.
Mibambwe IV Rutalindwa is succeeded by King Musinga Yuhi V in the famous
"coup d'etat" of Rucuncu
King Musinga recieves the
first group of European Catholic missionaries, known as the "White
Fathers" or "Peres Blancs".
defeat of the Germans in WW1, belgium establishes a political system of
indirect administration with the King, effectively working under the
Belgium officially wins the
League of Nations mandate to administer both Rwanda and Burundi under the
name of Rwanda-Urundi. Later, in 1925, Rwanda-Urundi becomes an integral
part of the belgian Colony Government under the name Rwanda-Urundi and
Belgium forces King Musinga to
abdicate his throne, who is then exiled to Kamembe (current prefecture of
Cyangugu), near the Rwanda-DRC border. His son, king Rudahigwa Mutara II,
The Belgian Colonial Administration
issues, for the first time, identification that clearly categorised people
as "Hutu", "Tutsi" and "Twa" on the basis of the number of heads of cattle
they owned. Those with ten or more cows were categorised as "Tutsi", while
those with less were categorised as "Hutu".
Rudahigwa becomes the first Rwandan Monarch to become
In the same year, belgium initiates a series of
administrative reforms that eliminated local chieftains who were mostly
Bahutu and replaces them with chiefs directly appointed by the King, and
who were Batutsi.
Rwanda becomes a United Nations
King Rudahigwa agrees with the
requirement by the United Nations, through the colonial administration, to
increase the number of Bahutu representatives at all levels of the Rwanda
King Rudahigwa abolishes "Ubuhake"
a clientele system of servitude that was common in monarchical Rwanda.
Belgium appoints J.P. Harroy as the Governor of
King Rudahigwa demands total
independence and an end to Belgian colonial occupation. In the same year,
the Vatican appoints Mgr. Perraudin, a swiss, as the head of the Roman
Catholic Church in Rwanda.
Under the ideological
patronage of J.P. Harroy and Mgr. Perraudin, Gregoire Kayibanda, a Muhutu
catechist, publishes the "Hutu Manifesto" demanding the political
authority be granted to the Bahutu majority. The Catholic Church
encourages Gregoire Kayibanda and his associates to form political
parties, namely; APROSOMA (L'Association pour la Promotion Sociale des
Masses) and RADER (Le Rassemblement Democratique Rwandais), to champion
At a time of strained
relationship between the monarch and the Belgian authorities, King
Rudahigwa dies mysteriously in Bujumbura, Burundi. Most Rwandese people
believe there was Belgian involvement in his death.
is succeeded by his half brother who becomes King Kigeli V
UNAR (Union Nationale Rwandaise) political party is
formed by the proponents of immediate independence under the Rwandan
monarchy. PARMEHUTU (Le Parti du Mouvement de l'emancipation Hutu) is
established under the guidance of the Catholic church by the proponents of
delayed independence. PARMEHUTU was also openly sectarian and
A Belgian Colonel, G. Logiest, with Belgian
Commandos, organises some Bahutu tp kill thousands of Batutsi and send
hundreds of thousands of others into exile, mainly in the DRC, Uganda,
Burundi and Tanzania. King Kigeli V is forced into exile.
The Belgian Colonial Administration hastily
manipulates communal elections, which were "overwhelmingly won" by
PARMEHUTU under Gregoire Kayibanda, who becomes Prime Minister of the
provisional government then formed.
Colonial Administration, in conditions of terror, organises a referendum
on the monarchy under the auspices of the United Nations.
declares the end of the monarchy and Gregoire Kayibanda becomes the
President and prime minister of the new republic. More exodus of Batutsi
from Rwanda to neighbouring countries. Massacres of Batutsi continue.
Belgium officially grants independence to Rwanda
and gregoire Kayibanda becomes the President of the First Republic.
Some Batutsi exiles - "inyenzi" - launch
futile attacks against the Kigali regime. More massacres of Batutsi take
place in Rwanda.
Gregoire Kayibanda is re-elected
President and Juvenal Habyarimana is appointed Minister of Defence.
PARMEHUTU is renamed MDR (Mouvement Democratique
Republicaine), "wins" elections and Gregoire Kayibanda is "re-elected"
Major general Juvenal Habyarimana
topples Gregoire Kayibanda in a military "coup d'etat". Massacres of
Batutsi take place.
Major General Juvenal
Habyarimana establishes MRND (Mouvement Revolutionaire et National pour le
Developpment). As in the First Republic, political parties are banned in
the Second Republic. Widespread massacres of Batutsi take place.
Major General Juvenal Habyarimana introduces a
"new constitution" entrenching MRND as the sole political party.
RANU (Rwandese Alliance for National unity) is
established by a group of Rwandese exiles in Kenya. The objective of RANU
was to find a solution for the problem of Rwandese refugees and to
struggle against dictatorship in Rwanda.
Several thousands of Rwandese refugees and Ugandans of Rwandese origin
are expelled from Uganda to Rwanda by the dictatorial regime of Milton
Obote. The then Kigali regime refuses entry to some, detains others in
camps within rwanda, while others are killed.
becomes RPF (Rwandese Patriotic Front).
The N'sele Ceasefire Agreement is
signed between RPF and the then Government of Rwanda.
From 1990 to 1993 widespread massacres of batutsi take place notably
in Kibirira, Bigogwe, Bugesera, Kibuye etc. In December 1993, RPF sends a
contingent of 600 troops to kigali as part of the Arusha Peace Agreement.
April - President Habyarimana dies in a
RPF launches the final campaign to
stop the genocide.
July - the genocidal regime collapses and
RPF captures Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda.
RPF establishes the
Government of National Unity together with seven other political parties.
The Government of Rwanda passes the law for
the trial and punishment of those responsible for genocide in
Rwanda gets involved in the first DRC war to liberate and
repatriate Rwandese refugees held hostage by ex-FAR and
Interahamwe. (Rwanda's involvement in the DRC leads to President
Mobutu's removal and the installation of Laurent Kabila as President of
the DRC.) The Government of Rwanda repatriates over 2 million Rwandese
refugees from the DRC and Tanzania.
involved in the second DRC war to deal with insecurity caused by the
ex-FAR and Interahamwe (DRC Government supports ex-FAR and
Local elections take place at
cellule and secteur levels. The Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement,
to end the second DRC war, is signed.
- President Pasteur Bizimungu resigns
April - Major General
Paul Kagame is sworn in as the fifth President of Rwanda.
EIGHT YEARS OF PROGRESS
Eight years ago, the Government of Rwanda began the
difficult task of rebuilding the country. In 1994, no schools, hospitals,
factories and government departments were functioning. Public utilities
like telephones, electricity and water were also not functioning. There
was total displacement of the population, both internally and externally.
There was no civil service and the government's administrative capacity
had collapsed. Civil servants had either been killed during the genocide
or had fled the country. Survivors of genocide were still scattered all
over the country and traumatised. Genocide had further polarised the
The Government of National Unity and the Rwandese
people, with some support from the International community, have
registered progress in the difficult process of moving from emergency to
The first challenge that the government
faced was to stabilise the country and create conditions that would enable
the whole population to enjoy peace and security.
half million Rwandese refugees have been repatriated and resettled. this
is a phenomenal repatriation record in world refugee history. The process
of reintegration of refugees and members of the former government army
(Ex-FAR) has further promoted reconciliation. About 15,000 elements of
ex-FAR have been integrated into the Rwandese National Army, the RPA, at
various command levels, as well as within the rank and file.
promoting reconciliation, a Unity and Reconciliation Commission was
established to consolidate the government policy of redressing the legacy
of divisive politics that has been a prominent feature of Rwanda for many
decades. The commission continues to raise public awareness through civic
education initiatives (Ingando). Furthermore, there has been
extensive dialogue, which, took place under the leadership of the
President of Rwanda, touched on unity and reconciliation, justice,
democratisation, security and economy.
The Government of national
Unity has made progres in building the justice system from scratch.
Following the enactment of the Genocide Law, trials have taken place to
bring to justice the genocide suspects. So far, (...) have been convicted
and (...) acquitted. Currently, there are over 120,000 genocide suspects
in overcrowded prisons. About 12 million Rwanda francs are spent annually
on looking after these prisoners. To deal with this caseload
expeditiously, the government has initiated a participatory form of
justice (GACACA) that draws from the experience of traditional
pre-colonial Rwandan society. This will be operational by the end of the
Through a Genocide Survivors Fund, the government
provides support in education, shelter, health, and income-generating
activities to the most vulnerable amongst the survivors. About 5% of
government revenue collected each year(approximately 4 billion Rwanda
francs) is contributed to this fund. Donations from the public or private
sector, as well as from the international community are welcome.
Human Rights Commission has been established to promote the rule of law
and respect for the fundamental rights of citizens.
political front, the Government of National Unity has made progress in
maintaining the inclusiveness of the broad-based government as an
indispensable component of the new political dispensation. A policy of
decentralisation has been initiated to involve people in grassroots
communities in decision-making. This will enhance their participation in
activities to transform their poor conditions. Local elections have
already taken place at the cellule and secteur
levels.Elections at the commune and prefecture levels will take place by
the end of the year 2000.
A Legal and Constitutional Commission has
been established to consult all Rwandese citizens on what kind of
Constitution Rwanda should have at the end of the transition
Transparency and accountability within government
institutions have been identified and promoted as critical ingredients
necessary for effective and efficient government. To that effect, a number
of institutions have been established, namely the National Examinations
Board, the National Tender Board, the Auditor General's Office and the
Rwanda Revenue Authority. In addition, government will further require
public officials to declare their assets in accordance with a National
Leadership Code of Conduct.
Economic recovery has been consistent
since 1994 when real GDP declined by 50% and inflation stood at
Security has been restored to all the 12 administartive
prefectures of Rwanda. Undoubtedly, this is a peace dividend from Rwanda's
involvement in the DRC.
Rwanda has been welcomed to join the East
African Cooperation (EAC), in pursuit of greater cooperation and economic
integration. Rwanda is also an active member of the Common Market for East
and Southern Africa (COMESA).