Topic outline

  • Unit 1: Independent Rwanda

    Key unit competence

    Explain the political, economic and sociology-cultural changes in the First and Second Republic and the causes, the course and the consequences of the Liberation War in Rwanda (1990–1994).

    Introduction

    After recovering its independence, Rwanda was ruled by Grégoire Kayibanda who was the President of the First Republic (1961–1973) and Major General Juvénal Habyarimana who led the Second Republic (1973–1994). The two republics were characterised by ethnic and regional divisions which compromised the development of Rwanda and led to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. However, in the social and economic fields, the two regimes made some achievements with support from the western countries especially the colonial master Belgium, and later France. These achievements include the building of some infrastructure such as Kanombe Airport and Butare University during the First Republic, and Amahoro Stadium, King Faisal Hospital and the construction of some roads during the Second Republic. Their poor governance provoked the Liberation War which occurred in 1990 and lasted 4 years. The major cause of the Liberation War was the refusal to allow the return of Rwandan refugees scattered in neighbouring countries — Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Zaïre (now Democratic Republic of Congo), Kenya, and in other parts of the world. This war ended in 1994 when Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) stopped the genocide against the Tutsi.

    Links to other subjects

    This unit can be linked to other subjects and extended to units like conflicts and warsin General Studies, population in Human geography, and regional integration in Economics and Entrepreneurship.

    Main points to be covered in this unit

    .The major changes during the 1st and the 2nd Republics

    .The root causes of the Liberation War

    .The course of the Liberation War

    .The effects of the Liberation War

    At independence, Grégoire Kayibandaforcedhis way into political prominence and he was more than willing to use ethnic identities to access power and sow divisions to maintain his rule. Independence was declared on July 1st, 1962 and Rwanda had a constitution for the first time.

    The final text of the constitution was signed on November 24th, 1961 by 40 deputies. Before that, Kayibanda had prepared a document to be used asa constitution during the “Coup d’état of Gitarama”. But this text was never published in the Official Gazette of Ruanda-Urundi. Moreover, the colonial authority continued thereafter to dictate laws to the new authorities.

    Independent Rwanda3Rwanda also had a government led by a President of the Republic and a Parliament. According to the constitution, the power of the government wasvestedin the President of the Republic, who was at the same time Head of State.

    The Parliament supervised the actions of the executive. Under the 1st Republic, three legislatures were elected respectively in 1961, 1965 and 1969 until the dissolution of Parliament following the July 5th, 1973 Coup d’état.

    transformed itself into a single political party. After eliminating and assimilating other political parties in 1965, it was the only party which presented candidates for presidential and legislative elections.


    The First Republic faced the problem of refugees who had fled the country from 1959 onwards. The attitude of the government of the First Republic varied with time. In 1960, the Provisional Government had shown concern and created a State Secretariat for refugees.

    Before the independence of Rwanda, the problem of refugees preoccupied the Belgian Government. The delegates of UNO were present in neighbouring countries where refugees lived According to UNAR, the Belgian Government was opposed to their repatriation. It was for this reason that Colonel Logiest, the Special Resident of Rwanda, launched campaigns for the repatriation of displaced Rwandans.

    The returnees could not be given back their properties. These had been illegally seized by burgomasters and their relatives, or friends. Moreover, in 1966, President Kayibanda warned the refugees, prior to the repatriation, against claiming their properties. In 1975, President Habyarimana issued a law according to which properties abandoned by refugees became property of the state.

    Refugees often attempted to return back to Rwanda but their number was always small due to the difficult conditions imposed on them for repatriation. The refugees found it difficult to access all the administrative documents required by the security services of the prefecture and commune. These included an identity card, and documents from the asylum country, and the UNHCR. These documents also comprised the report made by the préfet of the prefecture of residence of the repatriated person indicating the date of his or her departure from Rwanda, asylum countries, and family members. The returnee had no freedom of movement and to move from his or her commune to another, he or she had to be get permission from the préfet of his or her prefecture.

    The conditions of the displaced Tutsi and those who remained in their former regions became worse with the Inyenzi attacks. After every “Inyenzi” attack, Tutsi would be killed and survivors sought asylum outside the country. The major attacks of Inyenzi were as follows:

    .The December 21st, 1961 attack which originated from Uganda, to Kinigi and targeted individuals in Ruhengeri, Kigali and Gitarama;

    .In April 1962, another attack also started from Uganda and targeted the eastern parts of the country; .From July 3rd to 4th, 1962, an attack started from Goma and included approximately 80 to 100 “Inyenzi”. Of the captured Inyenzi, four were executed in Ruhengeri prison;

    .On December 21st, 1963 in Bugesera, another Inyenzi attack started from Burundi, proceeding to Kirundo and Nemba. After some successes, the “Inyenzi” were stopped and defeated by the National Guard commanded by two Belgian officers, Dubois and Florquin. After the Bugesera attacks (1963–1964), President Kayibanda, in his speech at Carrefour d’Afrique on March 18th, 1963, warned the Inyenzi that “If they try to conquer Kigali by fighting, it would be the total and quick end of the Tutsi race”.

    .To implement Kayibanda’s speech, many Tutsi, estimated between 8,000 and 10,000, were killed in Gikongoro prefecture. In the same period, Kayibanda ordered the execution of 27 leaders of UNAR and RADER who had been imprisoned in Ruhengeri prison without any form of legal procedure.

    .The last main Inyenzi attacks took place in Cyangugu and Gikongoro prefectures (Bugarama in 1964, Nshili in 1966 and Bweyeye in 1966), and in Kibungo prefecture (Butama in 1966).

    President Kayibanda’s regime was based on the ideology of his political party, PARMEHUTU. Political policies and strategies that the First Republic adopted to govern and ensure security and peace in the country were guided by the same ideology. This was reflected in the tendency of the Kayibanda regime to blame the Tutsi during major crises. In otherwords, the Tutsi had become the scapegoat because they were killed while the killers remained unpunished.

    The regime of President Kayibanda started regional rivalries within PARMEHUTU itself. PARMEHUTU members from Gitarama tended to monopolise PARMEHUTU and Government positions at the expense of other regions. For instance, in the last Government formed by President Grégoire Kayibanda in 1972, there were six out of eighteen ministers originating from Gitarama. To cover up this President Kayibanda resorted to ethnic violence against the Tutsi. Tutsi children were chased out of school, those in administrative positions were unfairly dismissed, and many were murdered.

    From 1963 the MDR-PARMEHUTU began to experience internal tensions. Some of these tensions concerned inter-personal rivalries and the distribution of jobs as the party organs and state structures fused. There was increasing discontent among cadres, students and individuals with primary and secondary education. For instance, at local level, burgomasters and préfets faced opposition.

    In October 1968, a parliamentary commission of inquiry report on the administration of the country was rejected by the majority of Members of Parliament. This report had grave accusations against President Kayibanda himself. It accused his regime of favouritism and nepotism, intimidation, and impunity.

    While debating this report, Members of Parliament were divided into two camps. Some supported the report and others opposed it. The supporters of the report were suspended from decision making organs of the party and were even prevented from contesting the legislative elections of 1969.

    Another factor that contributed to the reinforcement of regional division was the constitutional amendment which was voted on May 18th, 1973 by the National Assembly. This amendment increased the duration of presidential terms of office from five to seven years, and allowed Grégoire Kayibanda to stand for a third term. Although, the National Assembly supported the amendment of the constitution, the country was already divided according to the two main regions: north and south; the former aiming at taking the power while the latter wanted to maintain it.

    In addition, there was a failed coup attempted by Pierre Nyatanyi who was the chief cabinet minister of President Kayibanda and Muramutsa Joachim, commandant of the Kanombe unit. These two officers were from the north because the coup was interpreted as being coup of the north against the south.

    The two officers were imprisoned, only to be pardoned later by President Habyarimana when he took over power in the coup d’état of 1973. In order to address discontent in political and military ranks that was linked to regionalism, President Kayibanda resorted to violence and ethnic cleansing of Tutsi. Many Tutsi were chased a way from their jobs and schools.

    These purges which began in February 1973 were initially provoked by students, but also encouraged or perhaps led by the administrative and political authorities. Along with PARMEHUTU, the authorities aimed at uniting the regime by defining a common enemy. Soldiers from the north (particularly Alexis Kanyarengwe, the Chief of Police from Ruhengeri) who, in turn, wished to cause a political crisis, also targeted the Tutsi population. The purges, which initially involved the posting of lists of Tutsi students and staff, asking them to leave universities and companies, later went beyond the control of the authorities. They came to bear certain demands, both social (general resentment of the rich) and regional (opposition between the south and centre of the country on the one hand, and the north on the other).

    Consequently, Grégoire Kayibanda punished several dignitaries from the north by removing them from the jobs and locations associated with power. Alexis Kanyarengwe was appointed director of the Nyundo seminary and Major Nsekalije was assigned to a tea cooperative in Byumba. All the general secretaries of the government ministries were replaced, as well as nine of the ten préfets. It seemed the division between the south and the north was firmly established.

    During the months of February – March1973, purges were organised in schools, and in the public and private sectors of services against the Tutsi population (Mututsi mvira aha). Tutsi students designated on lists posted in all secondary schools and universities and signed ‘Mouvement des Étudiants’ (‘Students’ Movement’) or ‘Comité de Salut Public’ (‘Committee of Public Safety’), were under threat and had to flee from these institutions.

    By mid-February, the movement reached the National University of Butare. It also reached private companies where employers were requested to fire their Tutsi servants. After the towns, this phenomenon reached the countryside. In the préfectures of Gitarama and Kibuye, the Tutsis’ houses were burnt down and they were told to leave. Several hundred people were killed.

    Several explanations have been given about the source of this turmoil. Though orders were transmitted through the administration, they may have originated from the entourage of Grégoire Kayibanda. According to other hypotheses, they may also have come from Alexis Kanyarengwe, the Chief of Police, who was from Ruhengeri.

    Afterwards, the violence seemed to have become too difficult for the central authorities to control. The names of some of the ministers appeared on the lists drawn up in Kigali. In Gitarama, several rich Hutu traders’ stores were attacked and looted, as well as the residences of some politicians, including that of Jean Baptiste Rwasibo. On March 22nd, Grégoire Kayibanda made a pacification speech and announced the creation of a ministerial commission in charge of inspecting schools.

    The people who were involved in these acts of killing, looting, and burning houses, were not punished. This impunity degenerated into a kind of regional confrontation. The Hutu of the north started to resent and fight the Hutu of the central region who were said to be favoured by President Kayibanda. It was in that atmosphere that Juvenal Habyarimana, at the time Minister of Defense, decided to intervene militarily. He overthrew Kayibanda in the Coup d’état of 5th July 1973. Kayibanda and many dignitaries of his regime were thrown into prison; they were sentenced by a court martial, some of them to a death sentence and others to long term imprisonment.

    After the recovery of independence, Rwanda’s main offices were still in Bujumbura, the colonial capital of Ruanda-Urundi. Rwanda was under equipped. There were few infrastructures in Kigali.

    The country had no airport, radio, tarmac roads, telephone system, university, or any other institution of higher education. Everything had to come through Bujumbura or Belgian Congo.

    In addition to the inadequate infrastructure in Rwanda, food security was also another major problem. This was due to overcultivation, high population density, and soil erosion. To solve the problem of poverty and shortage of land, the government opened up farms in the former prefectures of Gitarama, Kibungo and Rural Kigali. The government also encouraged migration from the prefectures of Ruhengeri, Byumba, Gikongoro, and especially Butare, to the new farming areas.

    Rwanda lacked adequate financial resources for the economy to function properly. It had only one development partner: Belgium. This led to financial dependence on its donors in all the sectors of the economy.

    Another problem was the poor functioning of the monetary and customs union between Rwanda and Burundi. Moreover, the two countries did not have good relations because they had two different political systems; Rwanda was a Republic while Burundi was a constitutional monarchy.

    The country was going through an extremely difficult crisis including deficits in the balance of payments, because in 1962 inflation roseto 50 per cent and by 1964, inflation had risen to 300 per cent (Bamusananire, E.2009, Rwanda since independence, London). The Rwanda franc depreciated and agricultural and mineral production declined. This created a big decline in exports, which in return led to a big gap in foreign exchange, and the failure to pay for imports.

    To addressthis situation, Rwanda had to ask for assistance from Western countries and from international organisations such as International Monetary Fund (IMF). The donor countries were mainly Belgium and United States of America (USA). Belgium and IMF granted Rwanda a little more in terms of loans and USA donated food and some money to buy equipment.

    Besides external assistance, the government adopted other measures to get the country out of the crisis. It took political measures which saw the government reduce expenses of all ministries, including funds allocated to education. Another proposed solution was the ”First five year economic development plan of 1966–1971”. Its objective was based on an analysis of economic and social conditions and problems that Rwanda had to face in order to sustain its economic development.

    Despite the problems faced by the country and political mismanagement under the First Republic, the country made the following achievements in the economic, education and health sectors.

    Some financial institutions like banks were opened and they provided financial support to a few factories and industrial companies. The National Bank was established in January 1964, the Banque Commerciale du Rwanda in 1965, and the Banque Rwandaise de Développement in 1968.

    It should be noted thatin the framework of the Five Year Development Plan (1966–1971) it was proposed to tarmack all the road axes linking the country to her neighbours (Ministere des travaux publics, Rapport annuel 1971). In order of priority the following roads were to be tarmacked: Kigali–Gatuna, Kigali–Butare, Kigali–Rusumo, and Kigali–Cyanika. Besides, the construction of Kanombe airport opened the country to the outside world.

    But by the end of the 1st Republic in 1973, only the Kigali–Gatuna road had been started in 1971, and it was completed in 1977. Also constructed was the Rusumo Bridge at the Akagera River linking Rwanda and Tanzania, and the bridge on river Nyabarongo (1968–1969).

    With regards to rural development, some marshlands were reclaimed in order to improve agricultural production. ISAR (Institut des Sciences Agronomiques du Rwanda) located at Rubona improved seeds and plants and distributed them in some parts of the country. New crops like rice were introduced.

    The 1st Republic made a lot of effort to provide free primary education. At independence, Rwanda had few secondary schools including Ecole Officielle d’Astrida in the former province of Butare, Ecole Technique Officielle Kicukiro in Kigali, Collège Saint André in Kigali, Collège du Christ Roi at Nyanza and Seminaries at Kabgayi, Nyundo, Rwesero and Kansi.

    In 1962, there were 23 secondary schools which increased to 63 in 1972. In 1962, the budget allocated to education was 162,204,000 Rwf. This envelope increased to 563,194,000 Rwf in 1972. In 1962, enrolment in primary schools was 261,306 which increased to 425,000 in 1972. Enrollment for girls increased from 29 per cent 1961 to 45 per cent in 1972 (Bamusananire, E.2009, Rwanda since independence, London).

    The first university was started on November 3rd, 1963 by a Canadian Priest called Levesque as the first Rector. It opened with 50 students distributed in three faculties: medicine, arts and science. The Institut of Pédagogique National was started later in 1966.


    The number of dispensaries increased. To address the problem of malnutrition and poor conditions of hygiene, some socio-medical centres were opened to provide sanitary or health education, training on how to avoid and prevent diseases, and skills in maternal health care.

    A centre for handicapped children was built at Gatagara (Nyanza District) and a psychiatry centre for the mentally handicapped at Ndera (Gasabo District). This centre, also known as Caraes-Ndera, was run by the Gand Brothers of Charity. In preventive medicine, vaccination campaigns were initiated between 1965 and 1970 (Ministere de la santé publique, Rapport annuel 1970).

    In the night of July 5th, 1973, the presidential guard under the command of Major General Juvénal Habyarimana, Minister of Defense and Chief staff, staged a coup d’état against the regime of Grégoire Kayibanda and Major General Habyarimana took over power as president.

    Major General Juvénal Habyarimana was assisted by the following senior military officers: Lieutenant Colonel Alexis Kanyarengwe, Majors Aloys Nsekarije, Benda Sabin, Epimaque Ruhashya, Fabien Gahimano, Jean Nepomuscene Munyandekwe, Bonaventure Ntibitura, Laurent Serubuga, Bonaventure Buregeya and Aloys Simba.

    The coup d’état leaders dissolved the National Assembly, suspended the 1962 constitution and abolished all political parties existing at the time, such as the organs of MDR-PARMEHUTU. They also dissolved the government and replaced it with a National Committee for Peace and Reconciliation constituted of 11 senior officers.

    In its declaration of July 5th, 1973, the new regime talked about about peace and unity and denounced regionalism, immorality and corruption in the regime of Kayibanda.


    On July 5th, 1975, Major General Juvénal Habyarimana established the MRND. Its objective was unite all Rwandans so as to enhance economic, social and cultural development in a peaceful environment. In the 7th article, of the new constitution adopted on December 20th, 1978 by referendum, MRND was declared the sole political party where all Rwandans would participate in the management of public affairs.

    This marked the establishment of a one party system. All Rwandans were automatically members of MRND. The new constitution abolished the National Assembly and replaced it with Conseil National pour le Développement (CND).With time, President Habyarimana started developing a personality cult. This was done through mobilisation and glorification of the President and placing his political party using animation and placing his portrait everywhere in public and private surroundings.

    However, from1980, MRND started falling apart. This began with two highly regarded senior military officers, Colonel Alexis Kanyarengwe and Major Théoneste Lizinde, who were accused of plotting a coup d’état. The misunderstanding divided politicians and the people who hailed from the north of the country.

    Political power was from that time monopolised by a small group of people from Bushiru in the ex-commune of Karago in the current District of Nyabihu. Finally, power was in the hands of President Habyarimana, his immediate family, and his in-laws. This was known as “Akazu” or “one single household”. Corruption became normal practice and some top leaders treated public offices like personal property.


    Under the Second Republic, there was implementation of the “Second Five-year economic, social and cultural development plan” which lasted from 1977 to 1981

    This plan had four missions:

    1. Ensuring food security of the population and reducing the population growth rate.

    2. Promotion of human resources management.

    3. Improvement of the social conditions of individuals and the community.

    4. Improvement of the Rwanda’s external relations.

    The objective of this second Five Year Development Plan was the creation of more jobs, especially in the secondary sector, in order to provide young people in rural areas with opportunities to participate in the social and economic life of the country.

    From 1981 to 1986, the “Third Five-Year Economic, Social and Cultural Development Plan” was also adopted with the following aims:

    1. To improve food security for the population in terms of both quality and quantity.

    2. To promote jobs at sustainable wage levels that cover the basic needs while emphasising training programmes in order to increase productivity.

    3. To improve health conditions, promote access to shelter, and produce goods for mass consumption.

    4. To develop external relations and encourage the equilibrium of international trade conditions.

    In this context, the Rwandan diplomatic representation in foreign countries increased. In 1979, Rwanda hosted the sixth Franco-African conference and in 1976, Rwanda was a co-founder of theCommunauté Économique des Pays des Grands Lacs (CEPGL). It was also host to the headquarters of the Akagera Organisation du Bassin de riviere Akagera(OBK). The Second Republic made a great effort in agriculture. The cash crops especially tea, coffee and pyrethrum were promoted by increasing areas cultivated and the building of factories. These include for instance the tea factories of Shagasha, Mata, Gisovu and Nyabihu; and that for processing pyrethrum in Ruhengeri.

    During this period, the Government of the Second Republic paid particular attention to food crops like maize, rice, soya beans, sugarcane. Some factories were also set up to process crops. These included the Maïserie de Mukamira, and Sucrerie de Kabuye.

    .Emphasis was also put on the establishment of agricultural projects in almost all former prefectures. These included Développement Global de Butare (DGB), Projet Agricole de Gitarama (PAG), Développement Rural de Byumba (DRB) and Crête Congo Nil.

    In animal husbandry, the rearing of one cow in a cowshed and planting of reeds and other types of grass were prioritised. To improve the existing breeds of cows, importation of bulls, artificial insemination, research, and fighting cattle diseases were carried out.

    With regards to infrastructure development, the following infrastructures were built by the Second Republic (Ministere des travaux publics, Rapport annuel 1970):

    1. Tarmacking or asphalting of several roads which reached a distance of 888. 5km by 1989

    2. Construction of administrative offices for ministries, prefectures and communes

    3. Building of schools, health centres and hospitals like King Faisal Hospital and Kigali international airport

    4. Extension of electricity network

    5. Construction of Amahoro Stadium


    From 1980 to 1986, the country enjoyed economic growth due to good climatic conditions, increase in the production of coffee, tea, and minerals; and a considerable amount of capital coming into the country.

    However, from the end of 1986, the situation deteriorated and the economy gradually declined. The causes of the economic crisis during this period included the following;

    1. The drastic fall of the world coffee and tin prices;

    2. The devaluation of the Rwandan franc;

    3. Monopolisation of the limited resources by a few political and military leaders;

    4. Food shortages;5. The demographic explosion prevailing since 1940 (Bamusananire, E.2009, Rwanda since independence, London)

    To address the demographic problem, the government opened Office National de la Population (ONAPO) to deal with population growth problems.

    The government applied the Structural Adjustment Programme as dictated by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund with a view to stabilising the economy and benefiting from their financial support.

    New primary and secondary schools were constructed and many reforms made at all levels of education

    .In 1978–1979, the system of primary education was revised. The primary cycle changed from 6 to 8 years. Training in professional skills was introduced and Kinyarwanda became a language of instruction from Primary 1 up to Primary 8(Ministere de l’Eduacation nationale, Rapport annuel,1981).

    This reform established professional schools known as Centre de l’Enseignement Rural et Artisanal Intégré (CERAI). These professional schools admitted students who had failed national secondary school examinations and they studied for three years. They learnt woodwork, electricity, masonry and plumbing. At the secondary education level, the ordinary level was reduced by one year and specialisation now started in the second year. However, this reform failed due to the following reasons:

    .Lack of teaching aids

    .Lack of qualified teachers in the newly introduced subjects

    .Lack of appropriate evaluation methods.

    In 1991, these reforms were revisited. The primary education cycle was brought back to 6 years. At University level, the Institut Pédagogique National (IPN) was fused with some of the departments of the National University of Rwanda. The new campus of Nyakinama was opened in 1980– 1981 as a result of this fusion. The duration of study in most faculties was reduced from five to four years (Ministere de l’Eduacation nationale, Rapport annuel,1991).

    Under the Second Republic, many attempts were made towards the expansion of the health sector. The dispensaries were transformed into health centres and more medical personnel trained.

    The government also introduced a policy which set up nutritional centres in order to educate parents about diets and hygiened.

    Another achievement in the health sector was the establishment of the Broad-based Vaccination Programme (BVP) with the objective of reducing infant mortality. In 1987, the government established the National Programme for the Fight against AIDS known as Programme National pour la Lutte contre le Sida (PNLS) to control, prevent, reduce and conduct research on AIDS.

    In the same year, the National Programme for the Fight against Malaria Programme National de lutte contre le Paludism (PNLP)was set up. In 1989, the programme for acceleration of primary health care Programme National pour l’Accélération des Soins de Santé Primaire (PASSP) was also introduced. It aimed to encourage participation in self-relianceand management of health services in health centres.



    The first group of refugees were registered in 1959 after the unrest marked by violence and massacres against the UNAR members, mainly Tutsi, committed by PARMEHUTU with assistance from Belgian colonialists. The resistance which was organised by Inyenzi to return home was in vain and the refugees were desperate to recover their dignity as Rwandans. The poor conditions of living such as lack of employment and good education inhost countries,made them think of a strategy to return home. Groups started to form around the themes of return and self-help.

    Among the institutions set up to address the challenges of education were the Rwandese Refugees Welfare Foundation (RRWF) in Uganda and College Saint Albert in Kivu and Bujumbura. Later these institutions provided a large number of leaders to political movements like the Rwandese Alliance of National Unity (RANU), which was started in Nairobi in June 1979, and RPF-Inkotanyi in 1987 in Kampala.

    RANU had many objectives. It aimed at fighting against ethnic divisions and the ideology of divisionism by the Kigali regime. It also sought to fight against grabbing Rwanda’s riches by a small group of people. The other objective was to sensitise Rwandans about their rights. RANU wanted to find an appropriate solution to the refugee problem and to fight the fascist and dictatorial regime of Kigali. The strategy consisted of uniting all Rwandan intellectuals inside the country and in the diaspora in order to restore national unity.

    In June 1986, the Central Committee of MRND examined the problem of Rwandan refugees scattered around the world, especially in the neighbouring countries such as Burundi, Uganda Kenya, Tanzania and Zaire ( now DRC).

    Unfortunately, the Central Committee of MRND resolved that Rwandan refugees could not massively return into the country. The committee stronglyadvocated that refugees should find a way of integrating themselves into their respective countries of asylum.

    The argument was that the country was overpopulated and incapable of receiving andaccommodating her own people. Habyarimana himself declared that Rwanda was like a glass full of water to which one could not add a drop. He added that “a child of a refugee should not be called a refugee” and so he started negotiations with Uganda in February 1989.

    According to the Habyarimana regime Rwandan refugees were declared economic refugees who were to remain wherever they were and earning their living. They were not supposed to dream of returning to home.


    Both the First and the Second Republics institutionalised ethnic labels (Hutu, Tutsi, Twa) in identity cards and the quota system (ethnic and regional equilibrium) administration, schools, the army, etc.

    During the First Republic, power was in the hands of a few people from some communes of Gitarama and again a few people from some parts of the former Ruhengeri and Gisenyi prefectures during the Second Republic. Both Republics were characterised by identity ideology.

    The two regimes reinforced the conflict between Nduga people in the central and southern part of the country and Rukiga people in the northern and western part of the country by monopolising and excluding many parts of the country. During these regimes, hatred against Tutsi worsened.

    Every political crisis was blamed on Tutsi who were treated as scapegoats. This case was raised when Inyenzi attacked Rwanda in 1963 and later before the 1973 Habyarimana’s coup d’Etat.


    The regime of Juvénal Habyarimana did not tolerate any opposition. Any person who tried to oppose him suffered long prison terms. Political assassinations were frequent as well. For instance, the murder of the former chief editor of Kinyamateka newspaper, Father Sylvio Sindambiwe and Nyiramutarambirwa Felicula, a member of parliament.


    During the Second Republic, only one political Party, MRND, was allowed as it was stipulated by the 1978 constitution. All the powers were concentrated in the hands of a small group —members of the President’s family and his in-laws which was called Akazu. No single decision could be made without prior approval and blessing of the President and his MRND.


    Many Rwandan refugees had lost hope and were reluctant to join any political organisation due to past failures of the earlier attemptsto regain their home country, spearheaded by Inyenzi.

    By 1979, some Rwandans, like Fred Gisa Rwigema, had participated in African struggles, especially in Mozambique. In 1982, when the government of Uganda under President Milton Obote expelled more than 60,000 Rwandans (Ndahiro A, Rwagatare J,Nkunsi A. 2015, Rwanda Rebuilding of a Nation, Kampala, Fountain Publishers Ltd), the government of Rwanda refused to recognise them as Rwandans. This situation forced them to enroll in the National Resistance Army (NRA), the armed wing of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) in Uganda, led by Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.

    The big number of Rwandans in the ranks of NRA and their role in liberating Uganda was a source of renewed hope. For them, there was no magic formula for a solution to their country’s problems. The victory showed that a successful liberation war was possible in Rwanda.


    The military option was dictated by the denial of fundamental rights and democracy by the Habyarimana regime which was denounced by the population. Students abroad were also organising themselves to challenge the Habyarimana regime. Those on scholarships in Europe and Canada, formed organisations such as Association Générale des Etudiants Rwandais (AGER) and Association des Etudiants Rwandais au Burundi(AERB). The refugees resented their continued exile and the indifference of the Rwanda government towards their plight. All this made the military option inevitable for the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF).

    On September 30th, 1990, the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) with its military wing, Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA), took a decision to attack Rwanda and withdrew some of its units from NRA across Uganda and assembled them near Kagitumba. On October 1st, 1990, the first attack was launched.

    The reasons for the war, as summarised in the RPF programme, were: to restore national unity among Rwandans, establish true democracy eradicate racism against the Tutsi and sectarianism of the Kigali regime, poor management of state affairs, and to find a lasting solution to the question of refugees to which the Rwandan government had turned a deaf ear.

    • The following were the major steps of the Liberation War: On October 1st, 1990, the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) and its armed wing (RPA) declared the war of liberation which lasted almost four years. The first attack was in Umutara, but was not successful because of the death of Major General Fred Gisa Rwigema. The RPA was pushed from Umutara after which they changed tactics by launching a guerrilla warfare in the northern region.
    • On January 23rd, 1991, they captured Ruhengeri town and liberated the political prisoners who had been jailed in Ruhengeri prison. Among them, there were Theoneste Lizinde, Biseruka and Brother Jean Damascène Ndayambaje.
    • On March 29th, 1991, the first negotiations between the RPF and the government of Rwanda started at N’sélé in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Other meetings, had been held in Arusha G’badolité, and Mwanza.

    ࿤Regarding the internal political evolution, a coalition was formed on March 14th, 1992 by the main opposition political parties. It was called Forces Démocratiques pour le Changement(Democratic Forces for Change). Its aim was to negotiate peace with RPF.

    • On July 12th, 1992, a ceasefire was negotiated and signed in the Arusha Peace Agreement between the RPF and the Habyarimana Government. An Organisation of African Unity force known as ‘Groupe d’Observateurs Militaires Neutres’ (GOMN) was to observe the ceasefire.
    • On November 15th, 1992, Habyarimana declared the negotiations between the government and RPF null and void. According to him the ceasefire was a mere piece of paper–rubbish–and thanked the Interahamwe killer militia of his MRND Party for the massacres they had committed, especially in the northern part of the country. This growing insecurity was one of the ways used by the Habyarimana regime to block the implementation of the Arusha Peace Agreement.
    • On February 8th, 1993, in response to those massacres, the RPF launched an offensive that resulted in the capture of a large part of the country, especially in the northern region. The RPF were approaching the gates of Kigali. But due to international pressure to resume negotiations, the RPF returned to its former positions around Kinihira. On the side of government, troops had to remain in the new positions. The area between the two armies was declared a demilitarised zone.
    • On August 4th,1993, the Arusha Agreement was signed. It was a political compromise for power sharing between the Government and the RPF, but the Broad-based Transitional Government’ failed to take off because Habyarimana refused to swear in the new government and Parliament of which RPF was to be part.
    • In December 1993, a United Nations Intervention Force arrived. It was a United Nations Peacekeeping Force known as United Nations Mission for Rwanda (Unamir). Its mission was to supervise the implementation of the Arusha agreement of August 4th, 1993.
    • On December 28th, 1993, 600 soldiers of the Third battalion of the RPF arrived at the Conseil National de Développement(CND) to ensure the security of the RPF future ministers and Members of parliament in the new broad-based transition Government.
    • On January 5th, 1994, President Habyarimana was sworn in as President in accordance with the Arusha Agreement but blocked the swearing in of other members of the Broad-based Transition Government.
    • On April 6th,1994, the presidential plane was hit by a missile and President Habyarimana died. The downing of the plane was followed by genocide against the Tutsi and the killing of some Hutu who did not approve of the government’s political extremism. It was the Rwanda Patriotic Front which stopped genocide.
    • On July 19th, 1994 the Government of National Unity was formed.

    The Liberation War was launched on the 1st October 1990 by RPF-Inkotanyi and its armed wing, the Rwandese Patriotic Army (RPA) and ended on July 4th, 1994 with the fall of Kigali and Butare. It had the following effects:

    • Death of Major General Fred RwigyemaThe first effect was the death of Major General Fred Gisa Rwigema the chairman of RPF and the supreme commander of RPA. This death was a great loss for RPF.
    • Death of other RwandansMany soldiers were killed on both sides and others were wounded. There was also the massacre of “Abagogwe “peoplefrom 1991 to 1993 by Habyarimana regime in retaliation for RPA attack. Similar killings were carried out in Kibirira, Bugesera, Kibuye, Murambiand in Umutara.

    • Displacement, loss of property and psyclogical effectsThere was displacement of people from their properties, trauma, and destruction of properties.
    • Reaction of RwandansFor those in exile, they felt time had come to return home and massively joined the RPF and the struggle as the war progressed. Mobilisation to support the war effort was deepened in the region, and recruitment into the RPF was intensified. A lot of money, medicine, food, and clothes were mobilised in support of the war. Inside Rwanda, there were mixed reactions. Some people, mainly sympathisers of the RPF who had been treated as second class citizens, felt time had come for their rescue and joined the struggle from neighbouring countries while others were worried about the reaction of the Habyarimana regime.
    • Call by the Government of Rwanda for supportThe government of Rwanda was supported by its allies. Habyarimana argued that he had been invaded by neighbouring Anglophone Uganda and mobilised his closest allies to assist him militarily and diplomatically. Consequently, France, Belgium and the then Zaire (now DRC) under Mobutu Sese Seko sent troops.
    • Increasing of pressure for democratisationWhile the Habyarimana regime was facing the armed struggle with RPF-Inkotanyi on the local fronts, on the international level, Habyarimana was facing pressure to democratise Rwanda (La Baule summit).The regime also faced internal opposition. In June 1991, Habyarimana was forced to accept the multiparty systemby signing a new constitution.Chronology of Rwanda’s democratisation processa) In June 1990, at the La Baule Summit in France President François Mitterrand announced that French aid would depend on democratisation.
    b) On July 5th, 1990, at the MRND congress, President Habyarimana declared that the country was adopting the multiparty system.

    c) On September 1st, 1990, there was a declaration by thirty three intellectuals claiming the establishment of multipartism in Rwanda.


    d) On September 21st, 1990, President Habyarimana established a commission with the task of studying how multipartism could be established in Rwanda. This commission ended its work and submitted its report inJanuary 1991. Meanwhile, on November 11th, 1990, President Habyarimana allowed multipartism and declared the amendment of the Rwandan constitution. In June 1991, the new constitution was approved by the Conseil National de Développement (CND). The new constitution banned political parties based on ethnicity or regional affiliation, the position of prime ministership, and limited the executive, judicial and legislative branches of government.

    e) Beginning July 1991, new political parties were legally registered. These included Parti Socialiste Démocratique (PSD), Parti Libéral (PL), Mouvement Démocratique Républicain (MDR), Parti Socialiste Rwandais (PSR), Union Démocratique du Peuple Rwandais (UDPR), Parti Ecologiste (PECO), and Parti pour la Démocratie Islamique(PDI).


    • The signing of Arusha Peace AgreementThe Liberation War led to the signing of Arusha Peace Agreement on August 4th, 1993 whose purpose was to obtain a lasting peace. Both parties, the RPF-Inkotanyi and the Rwanda Government agreed to share power.However, the Hutu extremists, who felt left out of the process and threatened by the results, were not satisfied and started to organise a genocide against the Tutsi and killing of moderate Hutu.
    • Decline of the economyBecause of the war and the pressure on the Habyarimana regime, Rwanda’s economy collapsed. Coffee, which was the main source of foreign currency, was not produced. Thus, the country witnessed a hard economic situation. Besides, foreign aid stopped and the Rwandan franc lost its value. The main sectors of the economicy collapsed. People became poor and discontented. Because of the war, the Northern corridor was closed and this led to the stoppage of commercial exchange with Uganda. Moreover, the war increased the military expenditure of the government and this made the country more and more impoverished.
    • Displacement of many peopleMore than one million Rwandans were displaced inside the country. These were in great need of shelter, food and other basic needs.Among the positive effects of the Liberation War, the following deserve to be mentioned:
    • There is promotion of National unity. Thanks to the Liberation War, many achievements were made in the national unity, justice, peace and security, and ending of segregation.࿤Corruption, favouritism, embezzlement are being fought.
    • All reasons for fleeing the country were eliminated and the refugees are encouraged to return home.࿤The war helped to establish a true democracy. The people of Rwanda have the right to choose their leaders at all levels.
    • The war contributed to the improvement of the image of the country. Rwandans are well-known all over the world as a good example of reconciliation, people living together on the same land, victims and criminals, after the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.
    • The country promoted international relations based on mutual respect, cooperation and mutual economic exchange. This helped the country to reduce economic and political dependence on foreign countries.

    This unit covers the major political and socio-economic changes which happened during the First and the Second Republics. In the political field the First and the Second Republics were characterised by ethnic and regional divisions. The two discriminatory ideologies led to disunity, hence the lack of social cohesion. However, the two regimes made some achievements such as the setting up of transport, education and health infrastructures, and promotion of agriculture and industries.

    The divisive ideology of the two regimes led to the outbreak of the Liberation War which lasted almost four years from 1990 to 1994, and the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi. The causes of the Liberation War were for instance, the long exile of the Rwandan refugees, ethnic and regional divisions, and dictatorship. As a result of the Liberation War, Rwandans enjoy national unity, rule of law and good governance.


                                             Glossary

    Allocate: distribute according to a plan or set apart for a special purpose Asylum

    country:a country which offers shelter to someone escaping from danger or hardship
    Coup d’état:a sudden and decisive change of government illegally or by force

    Drastic:extreme, rigorous or far reaching.
    Framework:a structure designed to support something or system

    Tarmack:seal the surface of an area with tarmac (a paving material of tar and broken stone; mixed in a factory and shaped during paving or a paved surface having compressed layers of broken rocks held together with tar)
    Plight: a situation whichis dangerous, difficult,unpleasant or trying

    Plot: a secret scheme to do something (especially something underhand or illegal)

    Reclaim: make useful again; transform from a useless or uncultivated state e.g. “The people reclaimed the marshes”

    Scapegoat: someone who is blamed for the errors of others

    Summit:a meeting of heads of governments


  • Unit 2: Consequences of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi

    The 1994 genocide against the Tutsi was a carefully planned and executed project to completely destroy the Tutsi population and moderate Hutu who did not agree with the prevailing extremist politics of the time. It was the fastest and most cruel genocide ever recorded in human history and its atrocities have torn the hearts of survivors and severely ruined the country. It led to numerous consequences at all levels of national life as explained below.

    This unit examines the effects of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi and analyses the efforts made by Rwandans to re-build their homeland.


    This unit can be linked to other subjects and extended to units like conflict transformation in General Studies and communication Skills, Social and Religious Studies.

    • The consequences of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi and the lessons we can learn from it. ࿤How Rwandan society has been re-built after the1994 genocide against the Tutsi and how much effort has been deployed.
    • Measures taken by the Rwandan Government to re-build the country and challenges faced during the process.



    The effects of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi are many. They are explained and classified as follows:

    • The most negative impact was the human disaster in which more than one million innocent people who included men, women and children were killed in just 100 days.
    • It led to the destruction of infrastructure and equipment, public properties like offices, communication lines, schools, and hospitals, and private properties such as houses.
    • It caused physical mutilation of people. During this genocide against Tutsi, the perpetrators did not only kill the victims but they also deformed the bodies of the Tutsi.
    • The 1994 genocide against Tutsi led to a high level of trauma. This situation was caused by sexual abuse and torture of the victims by the killers and loss of family members.
    • It led to excessive degradation of human dignity characterised by inhuman crimes like cannibalism, rape and even the burial of people who were alive.
    • In addition, the 1994 genocide against Tutsi caused the devastation of the environment. For instance, many forests were cut down, huge plantations damaged, and domestic animals belonging to the Tutsi slaughtered and eaten.
    • There is also an increase in HIV/AIDS prevalence in the post genocide period because during the genocide against the Tutsi, the perpetrators used the rape of women and girls as a weapon.
    • There was decadence of the country’s economy. During the genocide most of the active population could not carry out their daily economic activities because of insecurity. The perpetrators and victims of genocide could not work and participate in economic activities.
    • There was an increase in the number of widows, orphans, and the disabled people. The 1994 genocide against the Tutsi has led to the death of more than one million Tutsi and left many widows and orphans who lost their family members. After the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda also registered a large number of disabled persons.
    • At the end of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi, more than one hundred thousand people suspected of committing genocide were apprehended and imprisoned. Considering the big number of these prisoners waiting to be judged, it was difficult to give justice to both victims and prisoners in a reasonable period.
    • A climate of suspicion and mistrust also prevailed in the country. The Tutsi survivors of genocide could not interact with the Hutu whom they considered as the perpetrators of genocide that led to the death of their relatives.
    • To judge a big number of alleged culprits of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, the Gacaca courts were created by Organic Law No. 40/2001 of 26/01/2001 published in the official gazette of the Republic of Rwanda on March 15th, 2001 in Rwanda as a solution to the crucial problem of a big number of the victims of genocide who were waiting for justice. At the international level, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda ICTR based in Arusha, Tanzania, was created to judge the cases of the planners of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.
    • Politically and diplomatically, Rwanda’s international image was tarnished. After the genocide against the Tutsi, the country was only seen in a negative way by considering almost all Rwandans as killers. Rwanda was also seen as a country totally destroyed and without any humanity.
    • Because of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, more than two million of Rwandans fled the country and established themselves in neighbouring countries in refugees camps. Another big number of Rwandans were displaced throughout the country.
    • Due to the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Rwanda became an epicenter of genocide ideology in the Great Lakes region. The perpetrators of genocide who fled the country and went to live in refugees camps in DRC exported the ideology of genocide and continued to kill innocent people.

    In conclusion, it should be noted that the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi left Rwanda deeply damaged and the devastation was so great and so painful that some people regarded Rwanda as a failed state. Although this genocide affected mainly the Tutsi, all Rwandans were generally affected. Many people became refugees and were displaced while others were apprehended and became prisoners.

    After the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, Rwandans met serious difficulties in reconstructing their country. Among them are the following:

    Since Rwanda’s social cohesion had fractured due to the divisive politics that preceded the genocide, suspicion and mistrust characterised the population.

    Thus, the new government inherited a deeply scarred nation where trust within and between communities had been replaced by fear and betrayal. This posed a serious challenge to the functioning of institutions because the RPF’s vision was not shared by all stakeholders.

    In spite of all this, the RPF believed that Rwanda was not dead but that it could be reborn and re-built. To achieve that goal, the RPF advocated strongly for unity and reconciliation despite the enormous challenges.
    Although the RPF had captured power and a transitional government had been put in place, the security situation was still fluid, with former government forces and Interahamwe militia still carrying out genocide against Tutsi in various part of the country. A French buffer area in western Rwanda, known as the Turquoise Zone, had become a safe haven for genocidal forces. In addition, infiltrators from refugee camps across the border continued to cross and destabilise the country. The ex-FAR and interahamwe were allowed to retain their weapons and to mix with the civilian refugees. Other sympathisers of the former regime, notably the DRC (then Zaire) under President Mobutu Sese Seko, continued to provide support. All these proved to be security challenges for a country that had been hit by one of the worst human tragedies of the 20th century.

    The Broad-based Transitional Government under RPF leadership had to devise means to address insecurity in the whole country and regain a semblance of normalcy so that Rwandans could begin the task of rebuilding the nation.
    The RPF strived to restore Rwanda as a country for all Rwandans and provided a homeland to which millions of Rwandan refugees could return. Tens of thousands of internally displaced people, especially genocide survivors whose homes had been destroyed, were resettled and provided with basic housing facilities. About three million refugees who had been held hostage by fleeing genocidal forces in the DRC and some in Tanzania were brought back home by the Transitional Government.

    This humanitarian exercise was largely successful despite the failure of the international community to address their plight in refugee camps. About two million older refugees (from 1959 and subsequent years) were also resettled peacefully across the country.
    The Rwandan economy and political situation before 1994 was marked by economic stagnation and high levels of poverty, mainly attributed to lack of vision, poor economic planning, mismanagement, embezzlement and corruption by the leadership of the time. They emphasized state control of the economy by a clique who benefited from the existing system.

    As a result, post-genocide Rwanda faced economic challenges including an unstable macroeconomic environment. For example, in 1994 the economy shrank by 50 per cent and inflation rose to 64 per cent. Between 1985 and 1994, the GDP growth rate was a mere 2.2 per cent against a population growth rate of 3.2 per cent, meaning there was an annual decline of -1 per cent of per capita GDP (Ndahiro A, Rwagatare J,Nkunsi A. 2015, Rwanda Rebuilding of a Nation, Kampala, Fountain Publishers Ltd).

    This was mainly due to the fact that the economy was characterised by low productivity in all sectors, but most especially in agriculture, a sector on which more than 90 per cent of the population depended for their livelihood. Without a visionary leadership to avert the situation, this resulted in a very weak export base coupled with a narrow revenue collection base. This implied that there was lack of internally generated resources to fund social services like education and health.

    In addition, there was low private investment and as such, the country lacked a serious and vibrant private sector to drive economic growth. In the public sector too, there was a highly unskilled labour force. For example in 1994, at least 79 per cent of civil servants in the country did not have qualifications higher than secondary school. To make matters worse, skilled professionals had been particularly targeted in the genocide.

    In brief, the Government of National Unity inherited an economy completely destroyed by genocide and over three decades mismanagement.


    In the health sector, the picture was equally bleak. This sector had always been weak in Rwanda. Health workers in this sector were few and poorly trained. This was a result of chronically poor human resource development strategies that characterised colonial and post colonial Rwanda. This situation was exacerbated by the genocide in which a large number of health workers had participated and consequently fled the country or were killed. The few that had returned from exile settled in Kigali, which had some infrastructures and was also safer to live in.

    To mitigate the health crisis, a number of NGOs and the army came in and tried to make a difference, but the task wasoverwhelmingsince the number of the injured and the sick was very high. Statistics indicate that immunization coverage for children had dropped to 27 per cent as a result of war and mismanagement.

    Malnutrition levels were also very high. Child as well as maternal mortality rates were equally high due to poor health service delivery. The prevalence of water-borne diseases and other conditions related to poor sanitation was among the highest in Africa at that time. Equally worrying was the high infection rate of transmittable diseases, especially HIV and AIDS, which had been made worse during the genocide where rape was used as a weapon of war. The situation was worsened by a very high fertility rate, coupled with ignorance. Malaria was hyper endemic in some parts of the country, especially in the east and southern provinces.

    During the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, most education infrastructure was destroyed and the human capital decimated. Besides, the poor and discriminatory education policies, coupled with an education system that did not respond to the socio-economic needs of the country, served to perpetuate massive ignorance. Even the few that went to school could not translate their knowledge into productive activities to improve the standard of living.

    In the eastern part of the country, schools were not only few, but in some areas they did not exist at all. During the first and second Republics, higher education was not only quantitatively low but also a privilege of the few favoured ones. Not even the quota system worked. For instance, between 1963 and 1994, only about 2000 Rwandans had completed university education.


    The Transitional government inherited a broken justice sector. More than 140, 000 genocide suspects had been arrested, yet there was insufficient prison infrastructure to host them. Their upkeep became a huge challenge in terms of feeding, and provision of medical and other services. To make matters worse, there was an inadequate number of trained lawyers to handle the large number of perpetrators of genocide and this was also true for other crimes that were being committed in the country.

    The laws were also outdated, obscure and inadequate. The justice sector also witnessed unskilled personnel. For example, according to records of the Supreme Court, out of 702 judges in 2003, only 74 possessed a bachelor’s degree in law. Nonetheless, justice had to be delivered. And despite the meagre resources that were available, the government had to introduce the needed reforms and new judicial institutions to deal with all these judicial problems.


    After its military victory, on July 19th, 1994 the RPF-Inkotanyi put in place a coalition government called “Broad-Based Government of National Unity”. Its legal framework was based on the constitution of July 10th, 1994, the Arusha Peace Accord, the RPF-Inkotanyi declaration of July 17th, 1994 and the joint Agreement between RPF, MDR, PDC, PSD, PDI, PSR, PL and UDPR regarding the implementation of the national institutions signed on November 24th, 1994. The transitional National Assembly was put in place in November 1994.

    The RPF-Inkotanyi had worked out a programme addressing the political, economic and social problems of the country. It was this programme that the Government of National Unity (GNU) adopted on coming to power on July 19th, 1994 as listed below:

    1. To promote National Unity and Reconciliation,

    2. To establish genuine democracy,

    3. To provide security for all Rwandans,

    4. To build an integrated and self-sustaining economy,

    5. To eradicate corruption in all forms,

    6. To repatriate and to resettle Rwandan refugees,

    7. To devise and implement policies for the social welfare for all Rwandans,

    8. To pursue a foreign policy based on equality, peaceful coexistence and mutual benefit between Rwanda and other countries,

    9. To fight against genocide and eradicate the genocide ideology.

    The Broad-Based Government of National Unity was headed by Pasteur Bizimungu from 1994 up to 2000 and by Paul Kagame from 2000 up to 2003. However, Paul Kagame has continued to be President of Rwanda after being voted in 2003 under the new constitution.