Topic: Politics & GovernmentGovernment

Last updated: December 15, 2019

There is a great deal of history in the country of Rwanda. The original inhabitants were the ethnic Twa.

By the 10th century, Hutu farmers were established there. Tutsi warriors with cattle arrived after the 14th century. Tutsi formed a monarchy by the 16th century.

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All tribes shared a common language and culture, and there were no race issues until the 20th century. Germany was the first European country to colonize Rwanda in 1899, administering it indirectly through the existing king. Belgium took control in 1916, during World War I. Belgium received it as a League of Nations mandate in 1919 and continued indirect rule but restructured the system to increase ethnic divisions.

The Belgians favored the Tutsi over the Hutu and Twa, which was a big mistake that caused huge problems in the future and lots of racism. In 1945 Rwanda became a UN trust territory administered by Belgium. Pressure rose during the 1950s as Hutu protested against Tutsi for rights and voting. Violence spread quickly after the Hutu sub-chief was attacked by the Tutsi. Many Tutsis died or fled to neighboring countries.

Belgian troops intervened and set up a policy reversal, with a Hutu led government. With democratization going through Africa, monarchy was abolished in 1961 and Rwanda gained complete independence in 1962, as two countries, Rwanda and Burundi. Tutsi exiles continued attacks on Hutu throughout the 60s. The First Republic, led by Hutu, ended with a 1973 rebellion coordinated by the Hutu Minister of Defense, Juvenal Habyarimana. Tutsi rebels in Uganda formed the Rwandan Patriotic Front, or the RPF, and invaded Rwanda in 1990. The conflict ended in 1993 with a power sharing agreement treaty. But the peace was broken again when Habyarimana’s plane was shot down in April 1994. Know one knew whether it was Hutus that shot down the plane, but they were accused nonetheless.

“Hutu politicians opposed to the late president Juvenal Habyarimana were targeted in the first few days after the plane crash, which has yet to be satisfactory explained. But now the killings seem to be directed purely against Tutsis,” according to Hilsum. This was the end of the Second Republic and the beginning of a 100 day well organized genocidal rampage. Hundreds of thousands fled to neighboring Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zaire (now the Congo).

The RPF fought unsanitary conditions. In 1996 Hutu refugees became targets of Tutsi violence, and Hutu soldiers attacked the Tutsi. Rwanda sent militia to defeat the Zairian troops helping the Hutus. Most refugees were sent back to Rwanda, but some remained to launch guerilla attacks in northwestern Rwanda.

Courts were set up for 124,000 people for crimes during the genocide. The first Hutu president was elected in 2000 when the old president resigned. Trials are still going on today, charging people with war crimes during the genocide.


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