Rwanda History

Rwanda History

According to localcollegeexplorer, the territory of the Rwanda was inhabited, before the division between the European powers, by three ethnic groups: Hutu (85%), Tutsi (14%) and BaTwa (1%). In the pre-colonial state, organized in a monarchical form, the Tutsis, who constituted a minority, placed themselves at the top of the social pyramid. In 1899 the Rwanda became part of German East Africa, in 1916 it was occupied by Anglo-Belgian troops. In 1919 the African territory (54.172 km 2), comprising the region of plateaus between the north-eastern shores of Lake Tanganyika and the upper course of the Kagera, tributary of Lake Victoria (R.-Urundi) was assigned to Belgium as a mandate by the Society of Nations, then in 1946 in trust by the United Nations. The colonial administrators made use of the collaboration of the Tutsis who, educated and evangelized in the missions, saw their belief in their superiority over the rest of the population strengthened.

On 1 July 1962, Rwanda-Urundi split into the two independent states of Rwanda and Burundi. G. Kayibanda (re-elected in 1965 and 1969) was elected to the presidency of the Rwandan Republic, whose Parti du mouvement de l’émancipation du peuple hutu (Parmehutu) was the only formation represented in the Legislative Assembly. The following decade of Parmehutu’s hegemony was characterized by continuous outbursts of violence against the Tutsis. In 1973 a military coup brought General J. Habyarimana to power. In 1975 some civilians were admitted to the government and a single party was formed, the Mouvement Révolutionnaire National pour le Développement (MRND), whose leadership role was enshrined in a new Constitution, which attributed broad powers to the President of the Republic (as well as leader of the MRND). The Habyarimana regime (elected president in 1978 and confirmed in 1983 and 1988) faced the worsening economic situation with unpopular austerity measures (overpopulation, shortage of fertile land, famine, fall in international coffee prices). In 1990, thousands of refugees returned to their homeland following the guerrillas of the Front Patriotique Rwandais (FPR), mainly made up of Tutsis. The invasion accelerated the process of political reform already initiated by Habyarimana.

In 1993 the Rwandan government was forced to sign a peace agreement in Arusha, Tanzania, which provided for the formation of a government of national unity and the holding of general elections after a transitional period. However, the agreements remained inapplicable: after the killing of Habyarimana in an attack (April 1994), the massacre of Tutsi and moderate Hutus by the Hutu militias (800,000 dead, according to official Rwandan estimates, and 2,000) was unleashed in Rwanda 000 refugees), to which the international community watched helplessly. In July 1994 the FPR took power in Kigali, but the creeping war in the western regions of the country, the high regional conflict (Congo warand Rwandan occupation of part of the Congolese territory, 1998-2002) and the dramatic refugee problem that involved all the countries of the Great Lakes, slowed down the normalization of political life and the start of a difficult process of national reconciliation. Internally, the Rwandan authorities found themselves having to addressing three major problems: the urgency of economic recovery, the problem of the reintegration of refugees and the difficulty of bringing to justice those responsible for the genocide. While the first judicial investigations were launched in the country, the UN Security Council established in 1994 the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the Crimes of the Rwanda based in Arusha, Tanzania. In September 1998, the Court imposed the first conviction for genocide ever pronounced by an international court of justice: the former mayor of Taba, J.-P. Akayesu, was sentenced to life in prison. Within a few days, former Prime Minister J. Kambanda was also sentenced to life in prison for genocide and crimes against humanity.

Political life in the country, after the taking of power by the FPR, appeared frozen. In December 1994, a provisional parliament was appointed and in 1999 the mandate of the transitional government was extended for another four years. In 2003 Fr. Kagame, former leader of the FPR and appointed president in 2000, won the first elections following the introduction of a democratic constitution (2003), which prohibited the formation of political forces on an ethnic or racial basis. At the beginning of 2005 the major paramilitary organization of the Hutu announced the end of the armed struggle and in the summer there was a new mass release by the government of thousands of prisoners sentenced for the 1994 genocide. In 2006 the internal administrative boundaries were redrawn, in order to create new ethnically mixed provinces. In recent years the country has made important progress in terms of stability and reconciliation, trying to open up to international tourism and other economic activities, being also admitted to the Commonwealth (2009). In 2010 Kagame was confirmed as president with more than 90% of the votes, while the legislative elections held in September 2013 saw the victory of the FPR, which obtained 76% of the votes, followed by the two smaller allied formations, the Social Democratic Party and the Liberal Party, which obtained more than 13% and 9% of the preferences respectively. In August 2017 Kagame was predictably reconfirmed in the presidential office after the approval of a reform aimed at abolishing the constitutional limit that would not have allowed him to be re-nominated, and in September of the following year the FPR obtained a new, clear affirmation at legislative consultations, which won 75% of the seats.

Rwanda History