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Asunto:[CeHuNews] 235/03 - Republic of Rwanda
Fecha:Lunes, 1 de Septiembre, 2003  17:11:04 (-0300)
Autor:Humboldt <humboldt>


CeHuNews 235/03
Basic facts:

Land Area:
26,340 square Kilometers.

Population: 8 million.

Rainy seasons: March - May and October - November(Average of 110-200 mm. per month).

Average Temperature:
24.6 - 27.6ºc. Hottest months: August, September.

Ranges from 1000-4500m above sea level.

Main water bodies: Lake Kivu, Lake Muhazi, Lake Ihema, Lake Bulera, Lake Ruhondo, Lake Mugesera.

ranges from dense equatorial forest in the north-west of the country to tropical savannah in the east.

Main National Parks/Animal Reserves:
Akagera and Virunga Volcanoes National Parks.

Highest point: Karisimbi volcano (4,507m)

Borders: Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east, Burundi to the south and Democratic Republic of Congo to the west.

Rwanda is a landlocked country situated in central Africa. Also known as 'the land of a thousand hills', Rwanda has five volcanoes, twenty-three lakes and numerous rivers, some forming the source of the River Nile. The country lies 75 miles south of the equator in the Tropic of Capricorn, 880 miles 'as the crow flies' west of the Indian Ocean and 1,250 miles east of the Atlantic Ocean - literally in the heart of Africa. Rwanda is bordered by Uganda to the north, Tanzania to the east, Burundi to the south and the democratic republic of Congo to the west.

Anyone visiting 'the land of a thousand hills' is in for a multitude of surprises. The loveliness and variety of the landscapes in this 'green country' is dominated to the north by volcanoes and bordered by Lake Kivu to the west. In Rwanda the great animals of the wild are protected from poachers and roam free in the vast national parks. The Volcanoes National park in the Virunga volcanic mountains with its high altitude forests, are world famous for mountain gorillas - timid and passive family oriented giants - which is teeming with wildlife both large and small, while Lake Kivu to the west offers beautiful beaches, jutting pennisulas and an archipelago of islands.

The Republic of Rwanda comprises twelve (12) Provinces and one hundred and sixteen (116) Districts and Municipalities.



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 population.

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 four decades.

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 means.

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 Juvenal Habyarimana.

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.


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.

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 regime.


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 intensified.

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 4th, 1993.

The Arusha Peace Agreement was preceeded by the signing of the agreement on a new ceasefire, as well as parties agreeing on the following principles:

  • That there was neither democracy nor the practice of the rule of law in Rwanda;
  • 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 existing armies;and
  • That Rwandese refugees have a legitimate inalienable right to return home.

The Arusha Peace Agreement was structured around five pillars:
  1. The establishment of the rule of law;
  2. Power-sharing
  3. Repatriation and resettlement of refugees and internally displaced people;
  4. The integration of armed forces;and
  5. 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 armed forces.

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 Rwanda.

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 population.

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.


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


The Berlin Conference is held on the division of Africa between Europen Nations.

The 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.

King 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".

After the defeat of the Germans in WW1, belgium establishes a political system of indirect administration with the King, effectively working under the Belgian President.

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 Belgian Congo.

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, succeeds him.

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".

King Rudahigwa becomes the first Rwandan Monarch to become christianised.

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 trustee territory.

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 administration.

King Rudahigwa abolishes "Ubuhake" a clientele system of servitude that was common in monarchical Rwanda.

Belgium appoints J.P. Harroy as the Governor of Rwanda-Urundi.

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 "Bahutu interests".

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.

King Rudahigwa is succeeded by his half brother who becomes King Kigeli V Ndahindurwa.

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 anti-Batutsi.

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.

The Belgian Colonial Administration, in conditions of terror, organises a referendum on the monarchy under the auspices of the United Nations.

Belgium 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" President.

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.

RANU becomes RPF (Rwandese Patriotic Front).

RPF begins armed struggle.

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 plane crash.
Genocide begins.
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.

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.

Rwanda gets involved in the second DRC war to deal with insecurity caused by the ex-FAR and Interahamwe (DRC Government supports ex-FAR and Interahamwe).

Local elections take place at cellule and secteur levels. The Lusaka Ceasefire Agreement, to end the second DRC war, is signed.

March - President Pasteur Bizimungu resigns

April - Major General Paul Kagame is sworn in as the fifth President of Rwanda.

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 Rwandan society.

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 long-term development.

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.

About three-and-a 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.

In 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 year 2000.

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.

A Human Rights Commission has been established to promote the rule of law and respect for the fundamental rights of citizens.

On the 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 period.

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 65%.

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).

© The Government of Rwanda.