Rwanda History

Rwanda History

Before around the 8th century AD. Gradually the Hutu Bantu people immigrated to what is now Rwanda, and it was populated by pygmies who lived as hunters and gatherers. The Hutu displaced the Twa pygmies into the dense forests in the west of the country. The origin of the Tutsi (also: Watussi, Hima) is controversial. According to one theory, the Tutsi were originally an extremely belligerent people of Nilotic origin, who immigrated to what is now Rwanda from the 15th century onwards. According to this thesis, the Tutsi gradually subordinate the resident Hutu, but take over language and religion from them. In another view, the Hima aristocracy developed itself from the peasant peoples and can be seen as the result of progressive social development and differentiation. What is certain is that the Tutsi established a system of rule with a king (Mwami) at the top and a noble upper class, which consisted exclusively of Tutsi and ruled over the subordinate Hutu. Although the Hutu were far superior in number to the Tutsi, their uprisings failed due to the superior armament of the Tutsi armies. The Arab slave traders were also unable to assert themselves against these armies. The Arab slave traders were also unable to assert themselves against these armies.

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The area remained largely unexplored in the 19th century, with British explorers David Livingstone and Sir Henry Morton Stanley among the first European travelers to search for the sources of the Nile. It was only when the European colonial powers divided Africa between themselves in 1890 and the area of ​​what is now Rwanda was assigned to the German Reich that the country began to explore through military expeditions. In 1899 the area was shared with neighboring Burundi connected to the colony of German East Africa (Tanzania was officially a German colony since 1891) and the first mission stations were founded. The foreign rule did not change the existing rule relationships, as before, a small leadership class consisting of Tutsi dominated the Hutu majority.

When Germany had to give up its colonies after the defeat in the First World War, the area of ​​today’s Rwanda became the mandate of the League of Nations in accordance with the Versailles Treaty of 1920. Belgian troops had already marched into the area in 1916 and were now taken over by the administration. After the end of World War II, the country, along with neighboring Burundi (Rwanda-Urundi), remained a trust area of ​​the United Nations (UN) and under Belgian administration. The first regional elections in 1956 went in favor of the Tutsi elite, who continued to hold all key positions and higher positions. As a result, Hutu intellectuals in the so-called “Hutu Manifesto” in 1957 called for the abolition of Tutsi supremacy and the establishment of democratic relationships. The conflict between the ethnic groups worsened, and in November 1959 there was an open struggle between the hostile parties. The Tutsis lost their positions and were killed by the thousands. Over 100,000 Tutsis fled to neighboring countries.

An administrative reform took the new circumstances into account, the positions and offices were now largely taken over by Hutu. The first local elections were held in Rwanda in June 1960, in which the “Parti de l’Emancipation du Peuple Hutu” (PARMEHUTU) under Gr¨¦goire Kayibanda, which resulted from various Hutu resistance movements, received the majority of the votes. The election result was confirmed in the parliamentary elections held in September 1961, when PARMEHUTU won 32 out of a total of 48 seats. A referendum held by the UN voted to abolish the monarchy.

In 1962, Rwanda became a sovereign state as a republic. According to AbbreviationFinder, Gr¨¦goire Kayibanda became the first head of state as president (until 1973).

Less than a year later, Tutsi troops from neighboring Burundi tried to take the capital Kigali and reintroduce the monarchy. The attempt to overthrow barely failed, and at least 20,000 Tutsis lost their lives in a bloody retaliation by the Rwandan government troops.

In 1973 President Gr¨¦goire Kayibanda was disempowered by a military coup. In the run-up, he had tried to expand his own powers through a constitutional amendment and to establish PARMEHUTU as the only legal party. In terms of domestic politics, the country was still burdened by the conflict between Hutu and Tutsi, which mainly took place in the border area with Burundi (Tutsi who had fled to Burundi warred against Hutues who had fled to Rwanda). In addition, there were new tensions between the Hutu in northern Rwanda and those in the south, who formed the bulk of the political leadership.

Rwanda’s new president was Hutu General Juv¨¦nal Habyarimana (until 1994). He established his “Mouvement R¨¦volutionnaire National pour le D¨¦veloppement” (Revolutionary National Movement for Development / MRND) as a single party, banned the PARMEHUTU and all other political parties. Habyarimana sought to balance with the Tutsis and reintroduce a civil government. In 1976 he was confirmed as President, and also in 1983. At that time, the already tense economic situation in Rwanda had deteriorated further due to the return of thousands of refugees from Uganda. The conflicts between Hutu and Tutsi broke out again openly. In 1988, an additional 60,000 Hutu refugees came to Rwanda from neighboring Burundi.

In 1990, an army of Tutsi refugees living in Uganda invaded Rwanda, most of whom belonged to the “Front Patriotique Rwandais” (FPR). The bloody clashes could only be ended with the intervention of foreign troops. A year later, incumbent President Habyarimana announced Rwanda’s return to the multi-party system and announced its intention to resettle displaced Tutsis. This led to a peace agreement between the Rwandan government and the “Front Patriotique Rwandais”, which envisaged participation of the opposition parties in the government.

Despite the President’s appointment of a Tutsi as head of government (Dismas Nsengiyaremye, leader of the democratic republican party MDR, Mouvement D¨¦mocratique R¨¦publicain), the clashes between Tutsi and Hutu in Rwanda continued to increase. A renewed peace treaty in the summer of 1993, which was concluded through the mediation of the Tanzanian president (Arusha peace agreement), did not change anything. When the Rwandan President Juv¨¦nal Habyarimana and his Burundian counterpart Cyprien Ntaryamira were killed in an airplane crash in April 1994, bloody massacres by Hutu an Tutsi occurred, which were accused of an attack. Within a few days, almost a million Tutsis and also moderate Hutu politicians who had worked with the Tutsismurdered by the Rwandan army and militias.

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In July 1994, the Tutsi rebel army troops occupied the capital Kigali and won military rule over Rwanda. More than a million Hutu fled to neighboring Uganda and Zaire, where they stayed in huge refugee camps created by the UN. Due to the lack of hygienic conditions and the poor supply situation, thousands of refugees died of epidemics and epidemics.

The “Front Patriotique Rwandais” (FPR) announced the end of the civil war in Kigali and appointed a Hutu as head of state. The head of the government also became a Hutu, while the head of the “Front Patriotique Rwandais”, Paul Kagame, became vice president and minister of defense. In order to manage the fallow fields again and to solve the serious food shortages, the new government of the National Unit tried to get the refugees back as quickly as possible. A roughly 5,000-strong UN peacekeeping force was deployed in Rwanda, and a year later the first trials against war criminals from Rwanda began at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Despite international financial aid and efforts to pacify the country, there were repeated bloody clashes between Hutu and Tutsi in Rwanda, which external observers attributed, among other things, to the lack of sufficient arable and pasture land in Rwanda. Additional conflicts arose with the neighboring country Zaire (from 1997 Democratic Republic of the Congo), in which rebels of the Tutsi tribe of the Banyamulenge wanted to overthrow the long-time dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. Thousands of Hutu still lived in large camps on Zairian soil. On the one hand, they were threatened with starvation and disease, but on the other hand, refused to return to Rwanda for fear of persecution. In October 1996 there was an open outbreak of hostilities between Zaire and Rwanda.By mid-1997, over a million Hutu refugees had returned to Rwanda. At the same time, the state set up reception centers for Tutsi refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Both Hutu and Tutsi camps were repeatedly attacked by militias from the opposite side, killing countless people.

Former Vice President Paul Kagame has been President since 2000. Rwandan troops continued to participate in the civil war in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (officially to protect the Rwandan border from attacks by Hutu militias who had fled to the DRC). International observers accused the Rwandan leadership (as well as the leading politicians and military officers from Uganda and Burundi) of enriching themselves by looting the natural resources in the DR Congo (gold, diamonds). In 2002, a peace treaty was signed between Rwanda and the DRC, which is intended to implement key points of the 1999 Lusaka peace agreement. The governments of both countries signed an agreement in November 2007 to disarm the Hutu militias.

A new constitution has been in force since 2003. Characteristic are the principle of separation of powers, a bicameral parliament in a semi-presidential system and human and civil rights. The human rights situation has generally improved.

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