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Chronology of Rwanda

(From the Book “Hope for Rwanda”, by Sibomana Andre, Pluto Press, London, 1999)

From conquest to social revolution (1894-1959)

German explorers discovered Rwanda.

Creation of the first White Fathers mission.

Belgium takes over Rwanda and relies on the traditional Elite to govern the country.

The League of Nations puts the kingdom of Burundi (Rwanda-Burundi) under the trusteeship of Belgium.

The king is deposed by the Belgians and replaced by his son Rudahigwa, who is more conciliatory. The Belgian Administration imposes an identity booklet in which each Person’s ethnic origin is specified

Creation of the newspaper Kinyamateka.

Creation of the first representative council, the Superior Council composed mainly of prominent Tutsi.

Publication of a ‘Note on the social aspect of the racial Problem in Rwanda’, later known as the Manifesto of the Bahutu. In this document, the Hutu denounce the feudal Regime and domination of the Tutsi.

Inter-ethnic tensions increase. The Belgians become wary of Signs of a desire for independence among their former Tutsi Allies; they get closer to the Hutu.

The social Revolution, independence and the Kayibanda regime (1959-73)

The ‘Social Revolution’. With the support of the Rwandan Roman Catholic Church, the emancipated Hutu elite takes Power. The Belgian trusteeship administration withdraws its Support from the Tutsi, many of whom are massacred. Several thousand Tutsi flee to Uganda, Burundi and Zaire.

Declaration of the Republic of Rwanda, following the death of the king. Gregory Kayibada is elected president (1961-73)

Declaration of independence (simultaneous declaration of Independence in Burundi)

More than 200000 Burundian Hutu-the intellectual class-are Massacred by the Tutsi-dominated army. Thousands of Hutu Flee to Tanzania and Rwanda.

Hutu extremists in Rwanda push the Kayibanda regime in a More radical direction, exploiting fears of Tutsi provoked by the massacres in Burundi. Public salvation committees

The early phase of the Habyarimana regime (1973-90)

Chief -of -staff of the armed forces, Juvenal Habyarimana, takes power following a coup d’etat (1973-94).

New constitution. Single party state: Movement revolutionnaire national pour le development, MRND (National Revolutionary Movement for Development).

Creation of the Rwandan National Union (RANU) in Kenya, Representing Rwandan Tutsi refugees.

Creation of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) in Uganda. Coup d’etat in Burundi.

Massacre of Tutsi in Burundi. Repression by the army leads to tens of thousands of deaths among Hutu peasants and provokes another exodus to Rwanda.

The democratization of the regime and the war (1990-94)


September: Visit of Pope John Paul II. Trial of Kinyamateka journalists.

October: The RPF attacks Rwanda from Uganda. Thousands of Tutsi and opponents of the Habyarimana government are arrested On suspicion of complicity.

November: First signs of democratization of the regime (development of Freedom of the press, de facto creation of opposition political parties). Juvenal Habyarimana announces the suppression of the mention of ethnicity on identity cards.


January-March: Massacres of Bagogwe (a group of Tutsi pastoralists).

April: A multi-party system is recognized.


March: Creation of the Coalition pour la defense de la Republique, CDR (Coalition for the defense of the Republic), an extremist Hutu party, Massacres of Tutsi in the Bugesera region.

April: A transitional government is formed, headed by the leader of The democratic opposition, Dismas Nsengiyaremye.

May: RPF offensive in the north of the country. More than 350,000 Peasants are displaced by the fighting.

June: The democratic opposition meets RPF representatives in Brussels with a view to forming a united front against the Habyarimana regime.

July: Ceasefire agreement between the government and the RPF.

September-December: Extremist militia begins organizing.


January: Signature of a protocol agreement to form a broad-based, Transitional government. An independent international Commission of inquiry denounces large-scale human rights Violations.

February: The RPF resumes fighting in the north of the country and arrives on the outskirts of Kigali. Between 800,000 and 1 Million Hutu peasants are forced to flee and live in a camp for The internally displaced, where they suffer from starvation. A French military intervention prevents the RPF rebels from taking control of the capital and forces them to resume peace

June: Creation of a new provisional government. Dismas Nsengiyaremye is force to flee. Agathe Uwilingiyimana takes Over as prime minister. She remains in this post until she is Killed on 7 April 1994. General elections in Burundi: for the first time in the country’s history, a Hutu, Melchior Ndadaye, Becomes President.

August: Signature of the Arusha peace accords, which puts an end to Hostilities and provides a power-sharing agreement between The MRND, the democratic opposition and the RPF.

October: Coup d’etat in Burundi. Melchior Ndadaye is assassinated by Extremist Tutsi soldiers. Massacres of Tutsi; repression by the Army and massacres of Hutu; 700000 Hutu flee to Rwanda, Fuelling fear of Tutsi among Rwandan Hutu peasants.

December: French soldiers of Operation Noroit leave Rwanda and hand Over to UNAMIR (United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda).


January: The Arusha accords are blocked. The broad-based transitional Government cannot be set up.

February: Assassination of Felicien Gatabazi, leader of the Parti social Democrat, PSD (social Democratic Party), and Martin Bucyana, leader of the CDR.

March: Atmosphere of civil war in Kigali. Incidents occur on a daily Basis and lists of people to be eliminated are drawn up.

April: Juvenal Habyarimana goes to Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) for a Regional peace summit. 6 April, he is assassinated a 7777he Returns, along with Burundian President Cyprian Ntarymira.

7 April: Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana and several Other ministers are killed. Massacres of Tutsi and Hutu Opponents begin in Kigali and several other areas.

8 April: Creation of a provisional government made up of Hutu Extremists.

9 April: France and Belgium fly in troops to Evacuate European expatriates.

21 April: the UN Security Council votes to withdraw UNAMIR.

May: The United Nations votes to adopt an arms embargo. The Human Rights Commission asks its Special Rapporteur, Rene Degni-Segui, to investigate ongoing massacres.

16 June: France considers a military intervention in Rwanda.

22 June: the Security Council authorizes the dispatch of a ‘Humanitarian force’.

23 June: start of Operation Turquoise And creation of a safe humanitarian zone in the south of the Country.

28 June: Rene Degni-Segui describes the ongoing Massacres as ‘genocide’. The International Committee of the Red Cross estimates that between 500000 and 1 million Tutsi And Hutu government opponents were killed during the Genocide.

4 July: the RPF takes control of Kigali.

10 July: creation of a Government of National Unity.

13-14 July: fearing the Advances of the RPF, 1 million Rwandan Hutu- many of Who were heavily involved in the genocide – flee to eastern Zaire, in the Goma region. In the following two weeks, 50000 Of them die of exhaustion and cholera.

22 August: end of operation Turquoise.

Rwanda since 1994


The reconstruction of Rwanda begins. Pasteur Bizimungu is President of the Republic. Paul Kagame is Vice-President and Minister of Defense. Of the 7.5 million inhabitants in Rwanda before the war, almost 1 million have been killed, 2 Million are living in camps for the internally displaced (Mainly in the south of the country, in the former safe Humanitarian zone) and 2 million in refugee camps (mainly In Zaire and Tanzania). Nearly 600000 Tutsi, most of them Descendants of Tutsi who were forced into exile between 1959 and 1990, returned to Rwanda.

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