Transforming Rwanda: Challenges on the Road to Reconstruction 9781626377998

Since the end of its genocidal civil war in 1994, Rwanda has embarked on an ambitious, and often controversial, process

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Transforming Rwanda: Challenges on the Road to Reconstruction

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Part 1 The Antecedents


1 Transforming Rwanda


2 The Roots of Change

3 4

The End of the Revolutionary Regime The Refugees Return

Part 2 In the Wake of Catastrophe

5 July 1994

55 69 97

6 Between War and Peace


Part 3 Rise of a New State


7 Change


8 Building a New Republic

9 The Road to Socioeconomic Transformation

10 Public Support Part 4 Conclusion

11 Explaining the Trajectory

203 231 243

List of Acronyms Bibliography Index About the Book

251 253 259 271 ix


I sincerely thank my translator, the late Charles Akin, for his dedication to this book. Likewise, I extend my thanks to all those who helped me prepare the book. My gratitude also goes to my children, Cyusa, Keisha, and Nganji, and to a number of friends for their invaluable support. I alone am responsible for the contents. —Jean-Paul Kimonyo


1 Transforming Rwanda

Twenty-five years after the publication of the first United Nations (UN) Human Development Report in 1990, Rwandans in 2015 were among the people in the world who had seen their living standards improve the most rapidly.1 Rwanda is sometimes referred to as an “economic miracle.”2 Nonetheless, also beginning in 1990, Rwanda suffered a civil war and a particularly radical genocide. Approximately 10 percent of its population, including three-quarters of the Tutsi community, was exterminated, owing largely to broad participation of the Hutu population in the genocide.3 Of late, the contrast between the country’s disintegration in 1994 and the vigor of its socioeconomic progress has started to produce a more diverse palette of accounts. In February 2012, official statistics were published and confirmed by international organizations, showing that in five years one million people rose out of poverty.4 Rwanda is frequently mentioned among developing countries as a model for economic growth, provision of health care, good governance, and improvements in the role of women in society. Nevertheles, Rwanda’s stability and socioeconomic progress have had little effect on the dominant academic opinion and coverage in the media in the West. Specialists from the most prestigious US and European universities described in 2011 an almost apocalyptic situation of political and social repression, poverty, and growing inequality.5 This small, stable, African country of little conventional strategic importance has become a kind of cause célèbre,6 featured in the opinion and editorial pages of the New York Times, often in negative terms.7 Some analysts find the growing popularity of the “Rwandan model” in Africa alarming and warn against the empty promises of an emergent “Kigali consensus” based on the efficiency of a combination of socioeconomic effectiveness and political repression.8



Transforming Rwanda

Nonetheless, a number of academic studies, mostly from British universities and think tanks, standing out from the neoliberal normative doctrine, focus more on the government’s developmental performance, its impact on citizens, and its legitimizing effects.9 One could raise the question of whether the progress made in different sectors of the country’s social life is not a result of effective governance and overall government policy, with such consequences. In evaluating the course of postgenocide Rwanda, the central question should be that of political legitimacy. In this regard, a distinction could be made between domestic and certain outside legitimizing criteria, between legitimacy deriving from Rwandans with their own values and norms based on their life experiences and that based on liberal prescriptive tenets. Scholar Mushtaq Khan, known for his work on the relations between governance and developmental states, shed some light on how genuine political legitimacy does not necessarily follow the path of “good governance” in these countries. A broad enough coalition of elites which can sustain itself in power without significant violence from excluded elites or within its own ranks counts as a “legitimate” ruling coalition in the context of most developing countries. This should obviously not be read as an argument against democracy, but only as an argument against expecting it to solve problems which it cannot solve.10

Rwanda is considered by some a developmental state seeking rapid socioeconomic transformation.11 Most often, the leadership in these types of societies did not operate historically in accordance with the canons of liberal democracy, although it has had the benefit of political legitimacy, primarily as the result of performance.12 Evolution of the international context and the difficulties of imposing a liberal agenda on politically fragile countries should encourage adoption of a more nuanced approach to understanding poor societies coming out of serious domestic conflicts. The Iraq disaster, the failures of the Arab Spring, the difficulties of democratic consolidation in Africa and in the world, plus the questioning of the liberal agenda within the very heart of mature Western democracies, point in that same direction.13 Aspiration to democratic freedoms today is shared by a large number of Rwandans as well as by many others throughout the world. The question is not the desirability of liberal values but rather, in contexts of poverty and political and social divisions, their proneness to cause widespread violence along with the obstacles that they can present in carrying out redeeming socioeconomic transformations.14 Given Rwandans’ historical experience, there is some reason to raise the question of whether adherence to liberal ideals in Rwanda does not follow different patterns and priorities.

Transforming Rwanda


My first goal in this book is to understand and explain the postgenocide reconstruction process in Rwanda by placing it in the country’s longterm historical context. A second related objective is to assess progress made in the transformation of Rwandan society that would shield it from political violence and lift it out of poverty and dependency, as stated by those who lead it. To do this, one should be able to determine criteria showing when a transformation process is achieved or at least what steps lead to this result. For this, I rely on research that presents income thresholds as conditions for a political transformation toward a more stable and peaceful political system. The researchers I refer to deal with competitive electoral democracy; more narrowly, what interests me more about their results is rather related to the capacities for a given society to maintain peaceful political dynamics through confrontational or more consensual electoral competition. The use of income thresholds serves here to determine clarifying criteria for the social and political effects they induce. Adam Przeworski and Fernando Limongi’s influential work studies the relationship between economic development and democracy. According to these authors, statistical and historical evidence show that the transition from dictatorship to democracy cannot be inferred from the level of developmental or other structural conditions; rather, the establishment of democracy has more to do with actors and their strategies or with other factors such as outside pressure. This is certainly one of their most important contributions because it clarifies one of the points that tended to discredit modernization theories linking democracy to wealth when by the mid-1970s democracies started emerging in unexpected places. Przeworski and Limongi emphasize the role of agency and not structures in the emergence of democracy. By contrast, once democracy is established, chances for its survival are strongly determined by levels of per capita income. In very poor countries with less than $1,000 per capita, dictatorships succeed one another with great regularity. In countries with between $1,000 and $4,000 per capita, dictatorships become less stable, and above $4,000, already established democracies become almost immovable.15 In his statistical analysis of the relationship between political violence and democracy, Paul Collier finds that democracies systematically reduced the risk of political violence in middle- and highincome countries but made society more dangerous in low-income countries. He set the threshold at around US$2,700 per capita per year. Collier asserts that democracy in the least developed countries not only increases the risks of violence but also fails to provide legitimacy or accountability.16 The level of income is not the only strong determinant of peaceful political dynamics; stagnation, decline, or economic contraction are also very important factors of political and social destabilization or even violence, even in rich societies.17 The explanation behind the link between


Transforming Rwanda

income levels and the possibility of maintaining peaceful political dynamics is based on the fact that in affluent countries wealth moderates the intensity of distributive conflicts in various ways. For the poorer social classes, economic development associated with higher incomes brings greater economic security and a “longer time perspective and more complex and gradualist views of politics.” 18 The improvement of living conditions reduces the receptivity of these classes to extremist ideologies. The emergence of a large middle class plays a moderating political role as it tends to support moderate political forces and rejects extremists. A high level of organic development also makes the competition for power less explosive from the higher classes’ point of view. In this type of social configuration, the government has less power to crucially influence the life chances of the most powerful groups, and the country is rich enough to afford a smoother redistribution of wealth or social mobility. Finally, the level of wealth of a society affects the extent to which its elites adopt universalist and meritocratic norms. The poorer the country, the greater the emphasis placed on nepotism through the support of kin and friends.19 One of the main underpinnings of the postcolonial Rwandan conflicts, which eventually led to genocide, is certainly linked to the exacerbated distributive conflicts the country experienced, which rendered the country’s political evolution a deadly zero sum game. Be it the first or the second republic, their evolution can be read as a continuous process of political and social exclusion of larger and larger portions of society, first on an ethnic basis but then on regional, clan, and family bases, with disastrous consequences. This in spite of the fact that both regimes had a low level of inequality. These same distributive tensions of course continue to affect the postgenocide state. Thus, a real political and social transformation should not only attenuate distributive conflicts by better distribution of resources but, more essentially, by greater wealth creation. Based on the work of Przeworski and Limongi, the first income threshold that brings a qualitative difference in the pacification of political competition is roughly the transition from lowincome country to low-middle-income country status. For 2018, the World Bank establishes a low-income economy as one with less than $995 of gross national income (GNI) per capita. This level is still modest for subSaharan Africa, excluding high-income countries; it reached $1,452 in 2017. Coming from a very low point, Rwanda is still far from this threshold but steadily approaching it; it went from a GNI per capita of $270 in 2005 to $720 in 2017. In historical terms, this income is double the pregenocide pick level.20 The concern about resources and their distribution does not mean that issues of representation and political identity are not important. Through

Transforming Rwanda


their ideological development they can take onan independent and potent life.21 But in reality, in situations of most violent conflict, often acute distributive tensions and identity factors are intertwined to produce explosive stratified political identities.22 Regardless of how the Rwandan state is ordered, its historic level of poverty, the highest in the world at the end of the 1980s, would not allow for stability or peace.23 And as the two interludes of political liberation in the country (1957–1963, 1991–1994), both of which ended in massacres, have shown, confrontational political competition has made matters worse. This of course does not mean that the present and the future are prisoners of the past. The analysis of the postgenocide reconstruction process offered here is inspired by the analytic eclecticism approach, which “takes on problems that more closely approximate the messiness and complexity of concrete dilemmas facing ‘real world’ actors.” 24 The analysis attempts to explain the course of events by referring to the challenges that Rwandans, rulers and ruled, had to deal with and the choices they made and by adopting an approach based on pragmatism and domestic understanding. One of the main efforts made in this book was to try to open the Rwandan Patriotic Front’s (RPF) “black box” through the presentation of internal documents of the movement, recounting sensitive moments of its evolution. In particular the crucial phase of the beginning of the process of change at the end of the postgenocide transition period, which is at the center of this book. This opening makes it possible to shed a somewhat new light on a number of episodes of the reconstruction process, or even on its entire trajectory. In the book I adopt a multidisciplinary approach and discuss security, political, economic, social, and cultural issues. This study analyzes the reconstruction process in Rwanda, focusing on the action of the central source of authority, the RPF. It looks at the movement’s history and its evolution, from the time of its creation by refugee communities scattered throughout the subregion and the world up to when Rwanda became the object of international interest that it is today. This book is divided into four parts. The first, historical, retraces the conflict’s origins and sources of change in Rwanda. Part 1 begins with the germination in exile of future change and retraces the history of refugees and the impasse in which they found themselves in the mid-1980s in host countries in the subregion, seeing a return to Rwanda as the improbable solution to their blocked situation. Chapter 3 returns to the evolution of the domestic situation in Rwanda, which, at the end of the 1980s, thirty years after independence, saw the country slide into political and social decay, famine, and widespread local violence. Chapter 4 deals with the collision of these two evolutions through the emergence of the RPF in refugee communities and the war fought to return to Rwanda.


Transforming Rwanda

Part 2 begins with the end of the genocide, the situation existing in Rwanda in July 1994, and the division of the country into three zones of influence, foretelling a continuation of the war. The reaction of the international community is also described. The rest of this part deals with the country’s violent reunification through the closing of refugee camps inside and outside the country and the end of the insurrection in northwestern Rwanda. This second part continues with the breakdown of the initial postgenocide government coalition and its replacement by a new one, based partly on neopatrimonial co-optation and the spread of corruption among some leaders. The feeling of failure that resulted caused a revolt among RPF cadres, who demanded extensive changes in their political party and in the government. This part ends with a discussion of the adoption of a way out of the crisis aiming to engender extensive transformation in Rwanda. It then describes the circumstances that led to the political primacy of the future president, Paul Kagame, who took the lead in promoting this transformation. Part 3 analyzes the various stages of the reconstruction process after the election of Kagame as president of the republic in 2000. This part describes a dense institutional development, a struggle for governance serving the general interest as well as implementation of new economic and social policies. It also describes the establishment of the Gacaca tribunals and the occurrence of acts of violence against survivors of the genocide that ensued as well as the campaigns carried out to repress them. This third part also describes the reelection of President Kagame in 2010, which was backed by strong popular support despite political tension and controversy. The book’s final chapters and Part 4, the Conclusion, cover the evaluation by Rwandans, several years later, of the political and social offer that was made to them and describes the return of public affairs to normal along with the emergence of new challenges. Notes 1. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 2015 Human Development Report: Rethinking Work for Human Development (New York: UNDP, 2015). 2. Katrina Manson, “Kagame Seeks Lasting Economic Miracle for Rwanda,” Financial Times (London), 24 April 2015. 3. Human Rights Watch estimated the number of Tutsis killed at 507,000, which, according to its data, was 77 percent of the Tutsi population that lived in Rwanda. Alison Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda (New York/Paris: Human Rights Watch/International Federation of Human Rights, 1999), p. 15. Gérard Prunier estimated the number of Tutsis killed at 800,000, the number of survivors at 130,000, and the number of Hutus in opposition killed between 10,000 and 30,000. Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide (London: Hurst, 1995), pp. 261 and 265. The Rwandan Ministry for Local Administration and Social

Transforming Rwanda


Affairs published the results of a census of victims: 1,074,017 victims were declared dead and 934,218 counted. Republic of Rwanda, Ministry for Local Administration and Social Affairs, Office for Planning, Dénombrement des victimes du génocide (Kigali: Republic of Rwanda, March 2001). See also Jean-Paul Kimonyo, Rwanda’s Popular Genocide: A Perfect Storm (Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2016). 4. Republic of Rwanda, National Institute of Statistics Rwanda, EDPRS 2, EICV 3, DHS 4, Joint Launch, February 2012; World Bank, “Rwanda Economic Update: Maintaining Momentum—with a Special Focus on Rwanda’s Pathway out of Poverty,” 4th ed. (Washington, DC: World Bank, May 2013). 5. Scott Straus and Lars Waldorf, eds., Remaking Rwanda: State Building and Human Rights After Mass Violence (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2011). 6. A cause célèbre in the sense of a controversial issue that attracts a lot of interest. 7. Editorial Board, “Rwanda’s Entrenched President,” New York Times, 11 January 2016; P. A., “Rwanda’s Leader Must Step Down,” New York Times, 17 December 2015; Stephen W. Smith, “War Crimes and Rwandan Realities,” New York Times, 19 July 2015. 8. Jeffrey Herbst and Greg Mills, “The Kigali Consensus Is a Mirage,” World Today 70, no. 3 (June 2014). 9. Maddalena Campioni and Patrick Noack, eds., Rwanda Fast Forward: Social, Economic, Military, and Reconciliation Prospects (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012); “Rwanda Under the RPF: Assessing Twenty Years of PostConflict Governance,” Journal of Eastern African Studies 8, no. 2 (2014); David Booth and Fred Golooba-Mutebi, “Developmental Patrimonialism? The Case of Rwanda,” African Affairs 111, no. 444 (2012): 379–403. 10. Mushtaq H. Khan, “Growth-Enhancing Institutions and Governance Capabilities in Fragile Situations,” World Bank Headline Seminar: Promoting Inclusive Growth and Employment in Fragile Situations, 2010, p. 3. 11. “Rwanda: A Developmental State or a Donor Darling?” Workshop, German Development Institute, Bonn, 6–7 October 2016. 12. Adrian Leftwich, States of Development: On the Primacy of Politics in Development (Cambridge: Polity, 2000). 13. “What’s Gone Wrong with Democracy,” Economist, 1 March 2014; Thomas Carothers and Oren Samet-Marram, “The New Global Marketplace of Political Change,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, March 2015. 14. Paul Collier, Wars, Guns, and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places (London: Vintage Books, 2010); Edward D. Mansfield and Jack Snyder, Electing to Fight: Why Emerging Democracies Go to War (Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press, 2004). 15. Adam Przeworski and Fernando Limongi, “Modernization: Theories and Facts,” World Politics 49, no. 2 (1997): 155–183. Per capita income amounts are based on 1985 US dollars. 16. Collier, Wars, Guns, and Votes. 17. Paul Collier, The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries Are Failing and What Can Be Done About It (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008). 18. Seymour Martin Lipset, “Some Social Requisites of Democracy: Economic Development and Political Legitimacy,” American Political Science Review 53, no. 1 (March 1959): 83. 19. Ibid., 83–84. 20. GNI per capita (constant 2010 US$) of $428 in 1983, $426 in 2005, and $747 in 2017. World Bank, World Development Indicators, 2017.


Transforming Rwanda

21. Crawford Young, “Nationalism, Ethnicity, and Class in Africa: A Retrospective,” Cahiers d’études africaines 26, no. 103 (1986): 421–495. 22. Donald L. Horowitz, Ethnic Groups in Conflict (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000). 23. Michael Porter and Michael McCreless, “Rwanda: National Economic Transformation,” Harvard Business School, February 2011. 24. Rudra Sil and Peter J. Katzenstein, “What Is Analytic Eclecticism and Why Do We Need It? A Pragmatist Perspective on Problems and Mechanisms in the Study of World Politics,” Washington, DC, Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, September 2005.

PART 1 The Antecedents

2 The Roots of Change

On 26 July 1986, President Juvénal Habyarimana’s regime made a mistake that would lead to its fall a few years later. On that day, it signed a policy document entitled “The MRND Central Committee’s Position on the Issue of Rwandan Refugees.”1 Arguing that Rwanda was overpopulated, the National Revolutionary Movement for Development (MRND) denied refugees a collective right of return. It promised to consider only individual requests from those having their own means of support once back inside the country. The MRND Central Committee’s “humanitarian” stance on the “issue of Rwandan refugees” favored their permanent settlement in their host country and urged them to acquire citizenship. This official and public denial of the right of collective return simply recognized a de facto situation and caused great consternation among politicized groups of refugees. It served as a rallying cry for the growing call to revive political awareness. By announcing its position so starkly after a long period of silence, the Habyarimana regime was in a way reengaging in dialogue with the Tutsi exiles; but this time it was essentially dealing with members of a second generation of refugees who were either born or grew up in exile and whose prospects of integration were melting away in each of the main countries of asylum. It was not by chance that the Habyarimana regime made its position on refugees public at that particular time. The Kigali government was attempting to subvert a broad movement of cultural and political mobilization within the refugee communities that had begun in the early 1980s. The victory of Yoweri Museveni’s National Resistance Movement (NRM)—six months before the publication of the MRND’s policy document—in which several thousand Rwandan combatants took part, did not bode well for the Habyarimana regime. For some onlookers, the mobilization of the refugee community, combined with the entry into Kampala of thousands of armed Rwandan refugees and domestic developments inside Rwanda, seemed to 11


The Antecedents

announce that dramatic changes were on the way.2 The magnitude of these future changes were to deeply transform the history of the African Great Lakes region, for better or for worse. Pinpointing the origins of the changes for which the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) was a central driving force is vital to understanding its later evolution and for any attempt to assess it. A number of scholars have written about the origins of the RPF, but the most detailed study is by three authors close to the movement who focused on its internal history rather than on the circumstances of its origin.3 Others have overascribed the origins of the RPF exclusively to Rwandan refugees in Uganda and their setbacks within the National Resistance Army (NRA) in the late 1980s, while ignoring the broader historical, cultural, and social context of the political and security crisis with which all Rwandan refugees were collectively confronted at the start of the 1980s.4 Mahmood Mamdani sees the RPF in essence as the offloading onto Rwanda of the first serious political crisis within Museveni’s NRM, which faced the problem of what to do with 4,000 combatants of Rwandan origin who had contributed substantially to his military success.5 Others present the RPF as a group of armed Tutsi refugees, thirsting for power and frustrated after their victory in Uganda, who decided to try their luck at taking Rwanda by force, provoking, as a consequence, the genocide of Tutsis living inside the country.6 These attempts to explain the return of Rwandan refugees to Rwanda in terms of a foreign-born army led by an ethnic phalanx are hard to reconcile with the extensive political and human resources the RPF needed if it were to defeat the Rwandan army, which was strongly supported by France, a middle-ranking global power. Furthermore, those explanations are also fairly incompatible in general with the sheer dimensions of the process of postgenocide reconstruction, no matter which standards of evaluation are used, unless the reconstruction of the country is viewed, wrongly, as is often the case, as the fruit of a radical break in the movement’s nature caused by the outbreak of genocide and the need to deal with it.7 The following study of the circumstances in which the RPF was created suggests that its response to the formidable challenge of the genocide was dictated by the political identity of a movement formed over the course of forty years of history, a history of defeat in an anticolonial struggle accompanied by large-scale ethnic violence, the trauma of exile, and thirtyfive frustrating years of refugee life. The Cultural Dimensions of Rwandan National Identity Despite the diverse conditions the refugees lived through during their thirty-five years of exile following the 1959 revolution (these refugees

The Roots of Change


would become known as 1959 refugees), a central cultural thread driven by strong national feelings marked their lives until their return to Rwanda. On 5 October 1986, on the Ruhengeri campus of the National University of Rwanda, Emanuel Ntezimana, dean of the History Department, opened the academic year with an inaugural lecture entitled “National History, Culture, and Consciousness: The Case of Rwanda from Its Origins to 1900.”8 His words shed a clear light, allowing us to appreciate the importance of cultural identity driving the movement among 1959 refugees to return to Rwanda. Ntezimana’s presentation describes the development of a Rwandan national consciousness over the long term. He points out that language and culture preceded the emergence of a national consciousness in Rwanda and formed its most resilient substratum. He makes a distinction between an apolitical cultural substratum, shared by all the clans living within the contours of present-day Rwanda from the seventeenth century, and a national consciousness steeped in political history. According to Ntezimana, this political history was maintained by lineage groups and drawn from all socalled ethnicities, even if the Tutsi lineages were the most deeply implicated. This historical consciousness centered on the monarchy and was by nature prone to hyperbole, propagating an exalted image of a Rwandan “people-nation” and its heroes. Ntezimana explains the resilience of this awareness of a Rwandan “people-nation” by the interaction of these two levels of culture. According to Ntezimana, ever since the sixteenth century and up to the eve of colonization at the end of the nineteenth century, in Rwanda, key political and military victories benefited from this cultural dimension. This explains why the country had never given up even after the worst military defeats, during the two occupations by the Abanyoro, and during the armed raids by Nsibura . . . in particular. The worst political crises, primarily crises of succession . . . , were overcome mainly because of cultural factors.9

Ntezimana goes on to explain that, in the primary role played by historical memory in producing the political culture of ancestral Rwandans, historical truth was not important. It was enough that Rwandans believed in that memory and because of that, they were carried along by its exalted representation of the country’s history.10 Apart from his somewhat opaque language, Ntezimana’s explanations help us gain an understanding of today’s dynamics. Yes, of course myths and legends, along with “fanaticism” and “fatalism,” are not historical fact at the moment when people either consciously or unconsciously construct or adopt them. They become so inevitably as people and groups turn them into prerequisites or pretexts for behaviors with social, economic and political import. They then become irresistibly “cultural” and indissociably “ideological,” facts with the power to alienate as much as to liberate, justifying the basis and functions of


The Antecedents brutalizing institutions as much as of free-flowering liberties. For “u Rwanda” [culture and history serve] as the foundation for a “fanatical nationalism” and an “almost inevitable patriotism.”11

Put more simply, this passage explains that in precolonial Rwanda, through a dialectical process, cultural factors and overworked historical memory engendered history. That is to say, political and military events drove those involved to surpass themselves in attempting to achieve an exalted self-image that reflected their historical consciousness. This glorified vision of Rwanda, of its centrality and of the moral obligation of all Rwandans to sacrifice themselves for the motherland in the hour of need, was stressed in traditional historical tales.12 These ideas entered the language through proverbs and other sayings.13 These same elements were found in 2017 in civic education programs for high schoolers.14 There was also an element of transcendence in the relationship of early Rwandans to their country, which was ruled by a sacred monarchy. In conclusion, Ntezimana places his thoughts in the time frame in which he was speaking, namely, the mid-1980s: At the end of the century and in the twilight of a millennium, the dense and delicate theme of “national history, culture and consciousness” must necessarily be considered over the long term. The few decades of “colonization” or of “recovering” independence should not conceal or erase the long trajectory of the “Imbaga” (people-nation). The more so precisely because the history of Rwanda has been fought over and disputed on account of intruding obstacles during this past century, which, despite its rich and lasting attributes, remains just one link in an over-stretched chain.15

Here, the historian asks that the interruptions caused by colonization and the 1959 revolution be placed within a larger context and, in so doing, that closer attention be paid to Rwanda’s deep historical continuities. This approach might seem strange, inasmuch as the perception of historical rupture produced by government propaganda in its evocation of the 1959 revolution went deep. And yet, it allowed this eminent historian, whose entire career was spent under the Habyarimana regime, to somehow foresee, as early as 1986, the banished refugees’ attempt to reconnect with the history of their country. Forced into Exile by the Colonial Administration The 1959 revolution, symbolized by ethnic cleansing campaigns burning down the huts of Tutsis between November 1959 and October 1961, benefited from primarily opportunistic popular participation. On 1 November 1959, an arson campaign led by the Parmehutu (Party of the Hutu Emanci-

The Roots of Change


pation Movement) activists and facilitated by the colonial administration targeted Tutsi huts across most of Rwanda. “They burned and looted because they were told to do so and because there was little risk. In addition, they were able to take what they wanted from the victim’s hut.”16 In some regions (Ruhengeri, for example), genuine popular participation was more pronounced than elsewhere, owing to the demographic pressure on land and the relatively recent settlement of Tutsis from central Rwanda in that region. A few days after the beginning of the revolt, Tutsi chiefs and subchiefs mobilized their Hutu, Tutsi, and Twa subjects in order to counter the arsonists and threatened to take the upper hand.17 On 10 November 1959, the Belgian trusteeship called in troops from the Congo, declared a state of emergency, and placed the country under military command headed by Colonel Guy Logiest. Colonel Logiest’s administration allowed the arson to continue and even facilitated it by systematically arresting leaders of the resistance to it.18 Colonel Logiest, the head of the colonial administration of Rwanda during the state of emergency, had Tutsi officials systematically replaced by Hutu members and supporters of the Parmehutu. This step was taken even where chiefs or subchiefs had not been rejected by the local populations. Seeking to transfer power to allies who would defend their interests after independence, the Belgian trusteeship administration took advantage of this politically infiltrated revolt to eliminate the traditional administration and then drive into exile or deport close to half the Tutsi population.19 This transfer of power at the local level considerably weakened the capacity for resistance of the Tutsi notables, who lost their Hutu allies in the attacks that followed, and led to new refugee outflows. In a few cases, the colonial troops opened fire when the Tutsi resistance proved to be too strong. The most notorious incident occurred on 21 June 1960 in the Bufundu (future Gikongoro prefecture), where Tutsis were very numerous. A group of about 1,000 Tutsis, including women and children, demonstrated against their forcible deportation to far away Nyamata camps, as ordered by Jean-Batiste Rwasibo, the new prefect installed by the Belgians. The colonial administration sent in its Congolese troops, who encircled the demonstrators, who fought back with bows and arrows. After 27 were shot dead and more than forty wounded, they laid down their arms.20 After each campaign of burning and killing, some of the Tutsi leaders on the monarchist side who were actively sought for their political activism left the country on their own accord, but the majority of Tutsis and some Hutus, who had fled the violence in their home communities, were brought together in reception centers, churches, schools, and improvised shelters. The Belgian administration did everything possible to see that the displaced left the reception centers as soon as possible and returned home, sometimes encouraged by the use of force.


The Antecedents

There were cases where these displaced persons were declared undesirable and banished from their community of origin. Return to the home community or banishment was decided in two stages. In each area, the Belgian territorial administrator summoned the bourgmestres and communal councilors to inform them of the need either to let the displaced return home or to agree on the principle of banishing those who were declared undesirable by the people in their home village. Local populations were called together in each sector to designate which people on the list would be allowed to return or not. Those who showed open sympathy for the nationalist party, the Rwandese National Union (UNAR), and those who had large properties or a condescending attitude toward the Hutus had less chance of being reintegrated. It was often the local Parmehutu activists who most strongly opposed the return of the displaced because they coveted their property and sought to get rid of political rivals.21 Some individuals who had been authorized to return refused to do so out of fear of what would happen to them in their community. Others did not want to be separated from their deported relatives. Those who had been banished by their communities were obliged by the Belgian colonial officials to leave the reception centers as quickly as possible. The authorities began the pressure immediately by cutting off their food rations. The religious mission stations were also forced to expel the displaced living among them and to cut off their food supply. Some institutions did so with zeal. This policy was applied throughout the country but more vigorously in towns and, above all, in Kigali. On 7 November 1961, soldiers fired on displaced persons in order to force them to leave the Catholic mission in Kigali, where nearly 8,000 people had sought refuge. 22 Some of the displaced were sent to remote resettlement zones in the Bugesera and Kibungo. It was estimated that a total of 180,000 persons had been internally displaced at independence.23 Without shelter or food and at risk of being mistreated or even killed by Parmehutu activists, many of the displaced had no choice but to go into exile. Determined to empty the Protestant mission at Gahini at any cost, the Belgian administrator of Kibungo, De Weerd, offered money to the internally displaced persons (IDPs) to pay for their journey to Uganda.24 Displaced persons often left with their family in broad daylight to travel in trucks to neighboring countries.25 The in-country UNAR leaders protested against this policy of expulsion and forced exile on the part of the Belgian administration and encouraged their supporters not to leave the country but instead to do everything possible to return home.26 At resettlement sites in the Bugesera and Kibungo regions, it was forbidden for IDPs to leave the camps. By all accounts, the Belgian authorities were determined to get rid of the displaced population, in part made up of Tutsi elite. Thus, the great majority of

The Roots of Change


the refugees left the country under the Belgian colonial administration, which came to an end at independence on 1 July 1962.27 Consequently the refugees’ rancor was first directed at the Belgian authorities and the Catholic missionaries rather than at their Hutu compatriots. In 1962, scholar Rachel Yeld explained that UNAR supporters interpreted what had just happened as an attack against their “cultural nationalism,” which was perceived as a threat “by the Belgian colonial rulers who, allied with the European Catholic missionaries, propagated doctrines of social revolution which threatened to destroy the peaceful coexistence and essential unity of the Rwandan people, and which were exploited by the ‘Hutu’ elite for purposes of gaining personal or sectional political power.”28 Once outside the country, the refugees had great difficulty in accepting the permanent nature of their exile. According to Yeld, this was explained by the fact that although in the crudest terms, the Rwandan situation has been interpreted from the outside as a peasant socialist revolution against a feudal aristocracy in a situation accentuated by problems of over population and land pressure and the fact that those enjoying privileged status formed also a more or less distinct ethnic group, the refugees interpret the revolution in terms of power politics and do not accept that there was, from 1959 to 1961, a genuine democratic movement in Rwanda.29

This difference in perception placed the refugees in an awkward position with regard to the international community, and they came to feel they had been consigned to the dustbin of history by the colonial power. The interim Rwandan government made symbolic overtures toward the refugees, such as the creation of a Commissariat for Refugees in mid1960 and again in 1964 when calls for refugees to return were made in official speeches. But the anti-Tutsi pogroms perpetrated at the start of that same year and the fear with which the in-country Tutsis lived meant speeches had little credibility. In August 1961, Minister of Justice Anastase Makuza issued provisional instructions preventing land that had already been redistributed from being restored to refugees who returned home.30 But his instructions had no legal effect. Many of the dispossessed or their heirs appealed to the courts. In certain cases, their Hutu friends acted as guardians and defenders of the refugees’ property or crossed over the border to take money to them. In other cases, local officials paid for guarding the exiles’ cattle while awaiting their return. In order to put a stop to those arrangements and appeals, President Kayibanda issued a presidential decree in February 1966 covering measures for reintegrating refugees that legalized the seizure of land belonging to refugees and IDPs, thereby putting on hold the question of their return.31


The Antecedents

Early Years of Exile Between 1959 and 1964, those exiled from Rwanda sought asylum in Burundi, Congo Kinshasa, Tanzania, and Uganda. Although it is difficult to establish accurate numbers of them, in February 1963 the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) counted approximately 150,000 refugees, including 40,000 in Burundi, 60,000 in eastern Congo, 15,000 in Tanzania, and 35,000 in Uganda. After the massacres that followed the attack of the rebel inyenzi (“cockroach” in Kinyarwanda) in the Bugesera in December 1963, UNHCR estimated that 10,000 new refugees had entered Burundi and 7,000 had traveled to Uganda.32 The 1964 rebellions in eastern Congo sharply decreased the number of refugees living in that country, and thousands of them relocated to Burundi, Tanzania, or Uganda. These UNHCR figures included only the number of registered refugees living in camps and did not reflect the true size of this population. Some refugees had indeed spontaneously settled outside the recognized camps or again in towns, where they did not depend on UNHCR and, therefore, went unrecorded. Thus, in 1965, although UNHCR recorded 36,900 refugees officially registered in Uganda, estimates of the number of refugees including the unregistered ranged between 62,000 and 67,000, which was almost double the official figure.33 Western humanitarian aid workers often described the refugees as feudal masters, echoing the propaganda put out by the Parmehutu and the Belgian colonial authorities.34 The high self-esteem expressed by these refugees irritated some aid workers, who saw their initial refusal to do farm work as proof of their arrogance. Rwandan Tutsi refugees (Banyarwandas) were a difficult first settlement experience for UNHCR. As an exiled elite, they are often described as being acutely aware of the rights and privileges due them. Their sense of superiority frightened and alienated many of their new neighbors, and their negative attitude towards settlement delayed their progress toward self-sufficiency. Many were herders who rejected cultivation, and as militant exiles hoping to retake their homes and power, they rejected the permanence of settlement.35

In fact, the refugees came from diverse social backgrounds and had left the country for different reasons. However, many of them were simple subsistence farmers. Among them were former dignitaries and their families, chiefs and subchiefs, but also native cadres from the colonial administration, medical workers, local magistrates, accountants, agronomists, and others. The traditional local officials had been expelled above all for political reasons. Some had been unpopular leaders, but others had been well liked by the local populations. Some refugees, including a certain number of Hutus, were nationalist UNAR sympathizers. Others were attached to the

The Roots of Change


monarchy and to the mwami (king), often because their families occupied ancient traditional functions at the court in Nyanza or elsewhere in the former royal domains. Among these could be found some Hutu and Twa families as well as Tutsis, often of modest means. Some had been expelled because they owned property, especially land, or even because of the social influence they possessed, which might be a threat to the new authorities— for instance, by forming a large family group on a single hill. Finally, there were Tutsis from all ranks of life, including many poor Tutsis, who had fled the mass violence. Most of the Hutu refugees returned to Rwanda soon after the proclamation of independence. It was then that the Parmehutu’s propaganda had succeeded in eliminating the political dimension of the conflict by focusing only on its ethnic dimension. In general, the Tutsi refugees were reluctant to work in the fields, mainly because of their social norms, which attached more value to cattleherding. Equally, some refugees did not want to work in the fields not out of attachment to tradition but, on the contrary, out of attachment to a modern way of life. This was particularly so for students or civil servants who had cut themselves off from their rural roots.36 Refusal to farm, especially permanent crops such as bananas, or to appear to accept the permanent nature of their exile by constructing proper houses was above all prompted by political considerations. The UNAR leaders and their contacts in the camps intended to convince the United Nations to force the Belgian trusteeship and the Parmehutu leaders to accept a policy of reconciliation and repatriation of refugees, including a period of guaranteed protection. The refugees’ pacifist leaders were still hoping that a decision along these lines would be made before independence in July 1962. They were willing to wait until August 1962, when the question of Rwanda was due to be discussed by the UN General Assembly. As for the “militarists,” they had their own deadline, which was the end of 1962, when it had been announced that the Belgian para-commandos would be withdrawn from Rwanda. For all these groups, any attitude that might imply acceptance of their exile as definitive would weaken their strategy.37 The first years of exile were very difficult in all the host countries. The Rwandan refugee crisis in the 1960s was the first that the international community had faced south of the Sahara. UNHCR’s initial operations in the region in 1963 were linked to the Rwandan refugees’ crisis; at the time, UNHCR had no mechanisms in place for dealing with the situation. In most host countries refugees usually had their first contact with local authorities and the national Red Cross societies, along with a few humanitarian organizations, and were dealt with in a very summary fashion. They were settled in remote regions unsuited for agriculture and commonly infested with tsetse flies and wild animals. They had to first clear the land in order to begin farming. Along with these inhospitable conditions, the refugees’


The Antecedents

refusal to accept the long-term character of their exile and the military activism of the inyenzi exacerbated their difficulties. Armed Activism by the Inyenzi The inyenzi movement, which ended in 1966, had a strong impact on the refugees’ lives during their first years in exile, with disastrous consequences in Rwanda and the refugee-hosting countries. By the end of 1959, most of the historic leadership of the UNAR had gone into exile, followed by Mwami Kigeli in June 1960. Once outside Rwanda, the UNAR leaders adopted as their main strategy lobbying the United Nations for it to set up and manage an interim trusteeship arrangement that would replace Belgium, adopt a policy of national reconciliation, and prepare the country for independence in 1962. With the prospect of early return, the feeling that a full Rwandan protection force was needed prompted UNAR’s founding committee, meeting at Kabale, Uganda, in July 1960, to decide on the creation of an armed force based outside the country; this resolution was never implemented.38 Later, after the UNAR split into several factions, a Social Committee in which all factions were to be represented was set up to take control of inyenzi activities, but it was never successful.39 In the legislative and referendum elections of September 1961, the outside branch of UNAR paid the price for boycotting the June 1960 municipal elections, which led it to lose most of its national base.40 Parmehutu won the legislative elections with 77.7 percent of the vote, and the monarchy was rejected by 75 percent. Despite the sense of betrayal felt by the historic UNAR leaders toward the United Nations, most of them continued to work for a diplomatic and political solution. In February 1962, only five months before independence, a UNAR delegation signed a cooperation agreement, the so-called New York Agreement, with the interim Parmehutu government.41 The United Nations had recognized the results of the September 1961 elections, which had taken place under very violent circumstances. Part of the UNAR youth wing and the party’s president, François Rukeba, breaking with his party colleagues, reacted to the UN position by opting for armed struggle. Disparate inyenzi units were created at different periods in each refugee-hosting country with differing ideological and political orientations and distinct leaders. At the beginning, almost all the inyenzi groups were monarchists, but later, the most important ones broke away from the mwami under the influence of the military training and political indoctrination that their leaders had undergone in communist countries. These rebels often returned as republicans and socialists. Despite these divergences, all the inyenzi attacks had the same objective, that of overthrowing the Parmehutu regime and the Belgian adminis-

The Roots of Change


trative authority. The inyenzi claimed they were not trying to attack the general populace or the Hutus; however, they did announce that all Belgians living in Rwanda as well as all officials of the Parmehutu regime were to be targeted.42 The inyenzi groups, like the UNAR supporters, were made up of both Tutsis and Hutus right up to independence. The split between Hutus and Tutsis came after independence, when Parmehutu propaganda sought to persuade the population that the conflict the country was going through was of an ethnic nature and that both UNAR and the inyenzi were considered to be exclusively Tutsi organizations.43 The initial large groups of inyenzi appeared in 1962. The first ones were based in Burundi and in the Congo with ramifications in refugees’ camps in Uganda and Tanzania. A third autonomous group was formed in Uganda in 1965 but never really saw action.44 The inyenzi commandos were highly mobile, moving from one country to another, where they benefited from the assistance of local groups. At the beginning, no group had more than three hundred fighters, and only some of them had firearms. Later, their numbers increased, but the number of their firearms remained small. Beside these modernly trained groups, in the refugee camps of the four neighboring countries of Rwanda, groups of people trained using traditional methods and weapons, such as spears and bows. The inyenzi had no unified political representation or outreach, and they received very little outside aid. The Burundian army provided them some facilities but no arms. Some of them went to Tanzania in 1963, where, along with other recruits from African liberation movements, a dozen or so were sent for training in revolutionary warfare to China, the Soviet bloc, and later to Cuba. The inyenzi carried out three types of attack in Rwanda between March 1961 and December 1966.45 Initially, there were numerous minor crossborder incursions by people native to the region, who were often interested only in looting. Some of these attacks, which were not by real inyenzi groups, sometimes targeted simple Hutu farmers. Attacks were carried out in almost all parts of the country’s borders but were concentrated in the northeast, where they were far more numerous. On 25 March 1962, in response to one of these minor attacks, around one thousand Tutsis were massacred in Byumba prefecture. This massacre was referred to as “genocide” by the UNAR leadership of the interior, and it sparked the pattern for mass reprisals against local Tutsis wherever the inyenzi or those identified with them had conducted cross-border raids.46 The inyenzi carried out two significant commando raids deep into the country with the same nucleus of combatants, which included Jean Kayitare and Aloys Ngurumbe. In the course of these two raids, they crossed the country in stolen vehicles, killing any national-level or regional Parmehutu officials they came across. They also attacked Belgian settlers, killing six of


The Antecedents

them, including a couple and their young daughter, as well as seriously wounding three others.47 After independence in July 1962 and the subsequent departure of most of the Belgian troops, the inyenzi launched more large-scale attacks, seeking to occupy part of the country. Among the most significant attacks was that conducted in the Bugesera on 21 December 1963. It was led by Kayitare and was launched from Burundi with around two hundred attackers and a few firearms. Most of the participants carried traditional weapons. The assailants put to flight a small defensive outpost of the Rwandan army at the border and pressed on toward Nyamata, where there was a major IDP resettlement center. There they persuaded the IDPs that the country was going to be taken over. Followed by a large number of people, the inyenzi marched toward the bridge at Nyabarongo, some twenty kilometers from Kigali, where a company of the Rwandan army led by Belgian officers lay in wait for them. The inyenzi were soon overpowered and then retreated back to Burundi, taking hundreds of displaced people from Nyamata with them.48 Another small-scale attack from Uganda, one that was quickly countered, took place simultaneously in northern Rwanda, in the region of Mutara. In the southwest, at Cyangugu, warning was given about plans for an attack by a group of inyenzi stationed on the Congolese side of the border. On the pretext that the country was being attacked from all sides, the Parmehutu government launched a large-scale campaign of repression against Tutsis in Rwanda. About twenty-three leaders of the UNAR and Rwandan Democratic Rally (RADER) were arrested and executed in Ruhengeri. Belgian agents were directly implicated in these murders, including the head of the Rwandan Sureté at that time, Major Tulpin, and the police officers Pilate and Iréné Durieux.49 President Kayibanda sent a minister to each of the ten prefectures to supervise “self-defense” operations, which gave rise to many killings. The worst massacres took place in Gikongoro prefecture and were supervised by the prefect, André Nkeramugaba, and by Minister of Agriculture Damien Nkezabera. These massacres began on 23 December 1963, before spreading to other regions. The Hutu population, armed with machetes and spears, systematically massacred Tutsis in the region, including women and children. Estimates range between 15,000 and 35,000 Tutsis killed throughout the whole country. The world’s press reported acts of genocide, and the philosopher Bertrand Russell called the killings “the most horrible massacres and the most systematic that we ever saw since that of the Jews by the Nazis.” Jean-Paul Sartre and Radio Vatican also denounced the genocide.50 This disastrous attack was a fiasco at every stage. The Rwandan Sureté and its Belgian cadres had learned of the preparations and then the place and date where it was to take place.51 Two months before the attack, Major Tulpin explained to anthropologist Luc de Heusch that there would soon be

The Roots of Change


“some fun.”52 The Bugesera attack had been preceded by a first attempt. On 29 November 1963, the Burundian army intercepted in Kirundo in the north of the country 2,000–3,000 Rwandan refugees near death, coming from the various camps of the country armed with traditional weapons, seeking to cross the border with Rwanda.53 Trained inyenzi notably coming from the Congo had also joined them. The inyenzi liked to boast in the bars of Bujumbura or to humanitarian workers in the camps about their coming feats of arms. In anticipation of this attack, the Rwandan government prepared for reprisals by drawing up lists of people to be arrested in every prefecture, many of whom were later killed.54 It seemed that the attack was launched precipitously to cover up embezzlement of funds. Mwami Kigeli had received a large sum of money from China, $100,000 or $120,000, depending on the source for this information, part of which he turned over to Papias Gatwa, his secretary, and another part to Hamud Ben Salim, an Arab trader, to finance operations by the inyenzi.55 Both, however, kept most of the money for their personal use, and Hamud is suspected of arranging the attack with Kayitare despite his obvious lack of weapons.56 The UNAR internal leadership treated the inyenzi as terrorists from the start.57 The Social Committee, which included various external UNAR factions and whose role was supposedly to direct the inyenzi, had written to Mwami Kigeli asking him to stop the attack, but he turned a deaf ear. Even Rukeba, Kayitare’s father and godfather of the inyenzi, was not involved.58 After proclamation of independence in 1962, Rwanda succeeded in isolating the inyenzi from the authorities in the refugees’ host countries in Congo Kinshasa, Tanzania, and Uganda. The Burundian army granted the inyenzi some limited access to facilities, but that varied in accordance with internal political circumstances. In 1966, President Michel Micombero, who had just seized power in Burundi, called on them to lay down their arms once and for all, marking an end to most major inyenzi incursions into Rwanda. The scale of the failure of the inyenzi can be attributed to a lack of political leadership but also to an unfavorable regional context for their cause. The UNAR’s incapacity to keep them under control reflected the broader inability of this organization and of Mwami Kigeli to offer coherent political leadership to the mass of refugees exiled in their name. Money matters played an important role in the UNAR leaders’ failure. Considerable sums were collected from China, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, the Soviet Union, Eastern European countries, and other sources by three separate leaders who distributed them as they pleased, thereby raising suspicions.59 Apart from internal dissension within the UNAR leadership and its inability to ensure coherent political leadership to refugees and the inyenzi, the international and regional communities favored neither the overthrow of the Parmehutu regime nor the return of refugees. By boycotting the 1960 communal elections, UNAR unrealistically placed all its eggs in one basket and


The Antecedents

expected all action to come from outside. This allowed the Parmehutu regime to consolidate its position inside the country without fearing any opposition, and the UNAR lost its remaining grip on domestic political reality. Beyond its borders, the regime benefited from the support of the former trusteeship power, Belgium, from other Western countries, and from their African allies in the context of the Cold War. Before independence, UNAR could lay claim to being a liberation movement fighting against a colonial power, which won it the support of many so-called progressive countries. The compromise between progressive and conservative African countries that began to appear in late 1962 and led in 1963 to the creation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). Article III of its charter prohibited interference in the internal affairs of its member states, which cut off the regional backing that the UNAR might have sought to mobilize.60 This prohibition of interference was the main reason for the break with UNAR by the Tanganyika African National Union, the main political party of future Tanzania, in 1962. It also explains, in part, why President Micombero dropped the inyenzi in 1966. Finally, despite being the creation of a departing colonial power, the Parmehutu regime, in presenting itself as the fruit of a social revolution having thrown off an age-old feudal system, was given the benefit of the doubt by the new African states. The challenge to the ideology and politics of the revolutionary Hutu regime from outside the country would be possible only toward the end of its own evolutionary course, when thirty years later it began to disintegrate from within, at a time when global and regional circumstances had significantly changed. The historical precedent of the activities and the symbol of resistance that the inyenzi represented were not without their consequences. Rehabilitated over time and by the selective transmission of memory to the second generation of Rwandan refugees, this predecessor certainly influenced the emergence of the military incursion option that they ended up adopting in order to make good their return to Rwanda 30 years later.61 Settling in Host Countries After the end of UNAR activities in 1965 and with inyenzi activism having fallen into disrepute, the various refugee communities turned their efforts toward the struggle for survival and later for integration, with varying degrees of success. Rwandan Refugees in Burundi

By July 1962, Burundi had approximately 40,000 Rwandan refugees who had started to arrive at the end of 1959, a number of whom later moved to

The Roots of Change


the Congo.62 Following the massacres in Rwanda in December 1963 and January 1964, around 10,000 new refugees arrived in that country. Most reached the capital, Bujumbura, before being moved to a camp. The Rwandan refugees found an unstable political situation in Burundi and an increasingly violent ethnic-political polarization that was strongly influenced by the events in Rwanda itself. This contamination gave rise to a cross-border ethnic-political consciousness and inspired an attempt to reproduce the Rwandan Hutu revolution in Burundi. The Rwandan refugee influx accentuated the process by instilling fear among Burundi’s Tutsis. The Rwandan refugees, and especially the inyenzi, served to polarize domestic politics.63 Massacres punctuated the country’s evolution in 1965, 1972, 1988, and 1993. These followed a regular pattern of indiscriminate killings of Tutsis by Hutu extremists, followed by murderous repression carried out by the Tutsi-dominated Burundian army. In 1965, massacres of hundreds of Tutsis and the bloody reprisals by the army marked the beginning of a social and political breakdown in the country. The Burundian Tutsis acquired “an obsessive fear of a Rwandan-style genocide,” and the Hutus ended up with “broken dreams of participating in power.”64 The genocidal massacres of the Hutu elite in 1972 by the army, responding to earlier killings by the Hutus, deepened the divide even more. The Rwandan Tutsi refugees were caught up in this polarization and sided with the Tutsis in Burundi. The situation of the Rwandan refugees in Burundi fluctuated with the crises and feelings of insecurity experienced by Burundi’s Tutsi community. Largely hostile to the integration of Rwandan refugees, the Burundian Tutsi elites opened up to them in times of crisis but reverted to xenophobia after that crisis had passed.65 Between 1961 and 1965, the most radical faction of the ruling UPRONA party dominated by Tutsi politicians was the Rwandans’ closest ally. This faction, referred to as Casablanca, and the Tutsidominated army facilitated the activities of the inyenzi and their attacks against the Parmehutu regime. In January 1965, the Casablanca faction experienced a loss of power with Pierre Ngendandumwe’s return as prime minister, and this was a setback for the refugees and the inyenzi. But more damaging to interethnic tolerance was the assassination of this Hutu prime minister eight days after he took office. The next day, the US Embassy declared that it had been the work of a Rwandan refugee.66 Gonzalve Muyenzi, a Rwandan accountant at the US Embassy, was accused of the crime. He, in turn, incriminated the ambassador of the United States as having masterminded it. Despite his denials, Ambassador Ronald Dumont was expelled from the country one year later.67 This incident marked a radical hardening in the attitude of the Burundian authorities toward the refugees. From the break in 1965 until the end of the 1980s, successive Tutsi political regimes saw the Rwandan refugees as their determined allies.


The Antecedents

Thus, when President Micombero demanded in 1967 that Rukeba and Ngurumbe lay down their arms, essentially putting an end to inyenzi activity, he was as much motivated by the desire to respond to OAU’s pressure as he was to turning these fighters toward his own internal domestic front.68 Most Rwandan refugees in Burundi lived under difficult conditions in refugee camps or in the poorer neighborhoods of Bujumbura. But a minority of them had, nonetheless, quickly succeeded in finding work in Bujumbura, mainly in the private and government-supported sectors. This city had been the capital of colonial Ruanda-Urundi and had a small and relatively dynamic industrial and commercial sector. Rwandan refugees, whose hard work was appreciated, provided a significant contingent of middle management and office workers, especially in foreign companies. Business, education, and nursing represented the sectors in which a large number of the Rwandan refugees were able to find attractive opportunities. Later, a few refugees succeeded in creating manufacturing businesses, an unattractive sector for Burundian elites. The accession of President Micombero to power in 1966 and then the crisis of 1972 improved the situation of Rwandan refugees in the country. After the bloody repression of 1972 and the annihilation of Hutu professionals, President Micombero’s regime was weakened politically and needed fresh blood to operate the government administration. He turned to Rwandan refugees, offering them easy entry into the civil service. These refugees did not become involved in Burundian politics but used this privileged access to defend their community’s interests. From the time of the 1972 crisis until the end of his regime, President Micombero facilitated the life of Rwandan refugees and up to a point facilitated the integration of a number of them into Burundian society. In 1973, Burundi allowed Rwandan refugees to obtain Burundian nationality. Initially, conditions of entry were very restrictive concerning the required number of years of residence and the expense of the procedure. Beginning in 1974, the conditions for becoming a Burundian national were relaxed, especially concerning the fees for acquiring nationality for applicants with limited means. The restrictive nature of the initial conditions for access to Burundian nationality, a scarcity of publicity about the procedure, and the reluctance of many Rwandans to renounce their nationality limited acquisition to a relatively small number of refugees.69 The education system was open to the children of Rwandan refugees up to university level except for a few programs that led to prestigious careers, such as medicine and law. There was, however, a barrier to their entry to secondary school. In 1973, a system of quotas was introduced requiring foreigners to obtain much better grades than those required of Burundians under the system of national exams for entry to secondary

The Roots of Change


school. Whenever large numbers of Burundian students passed the exam, the requirements for foreign students were raised.70 Saint Albert Collège was established in Bujumbura by refugees in 1965, making it possible for many young refugees to continue on to secondary school. Initially located at Uvira in South Kivu in the Congo, the school had to move because of the Mulele rebellion. Among the school’s teaching staff were young refugee students who had just finished university and who volunteered as teachers for one or two years. It also attracted Burundian and European volunteers. From the word go, the school made a special effort to take in children from the refugee camps, offering them a chance to live in the city and creating a link between city children and those in the camps. After a precarious beginning and without many resources, the school had to make a constant effort to maintain the quality of its teaching for fear that its accreditation might be withdrawn. Saint Albert Collège turned out top students at the national level in the secondary school final exams. The school also served as an important center for keeping alive and passing on Rwandan cultural identity. It permitted a continuous intermingling of young people living in Bujumbura and those who had grown up in the camps, who were often more hard-working and determined in their studies. In rural areas, refugees were first installed in three camps: Muramba in the northeast and Kayongozi and Kigamba, which were located in Cankuzo province in the east of the country near the Tanzanian border. The area surrounding the camps was a sparsely inhabited and very dry region infested with tsetse flies and wild animals, with poor soil. The only fertile land available was in small areas recovered from swamps after drainage. The Burundian government and refugee-aid organizations insisted from the start that the refugees become self-sufficient for their food. Three months after the creation of the camps, some refugees had begun to clear land for crops. Another group continued to oppose this. When the refugees finally decided to grow crops, their lack of experience and lack of functioning equipment proved to be additional obstacles. During a visit to the camps in Burundi at the end of 1963, Sadruddin Aga Khan, the UNHCR deputy high commissioner, found refugees cultivating the land under desperate conditions. At the end of the humanitarian emergency, with responsibility for managing the camps transferred to the government, food rations had been drastically cut while the refugees’ first harvest was totally inadequate. The refugees suffered from hunger and serious diseases because of malnutrition. A few could not leave their huts because they had almost no clothes. Some refugees told Aga Khan that, if they had to die, they would rather die at home in Rwanda. 71 Two years after being settled there, refugees began to leave the Kayangozi and Kigamba camps in large numbers because of constant hunger. These two camps became almost totally abandoned before the conditions could


The Antecedents

stabilize. The Muramba camp retained a large part of its population, but the situation of its inhabitants improved only slowly, owing to the scarcity of arable land. The fourth camp, which the Rwandans called Mushiha, was created under more dramatic circumstances. Approximately 10,000 refugees fleeing the 1963–1964 repression in Rwanda arrived in Bujumbura in 1964. The hostilities that followed the assassination of Prime Minister Ngendandumwe cost them dearly. Early in the morning of 18 February 1965, the Burundian army encircled the Bujumbura neighborhoods where Rwandan refugees were living, and in the course of two days, it rounded up all the men who could not present proof of employment. UNHCR was convinced that the government wanted to expel all the Rwandan refugees from the capital but had been prevented from doing so because of the likely disruption in economic activity that such a measure would cause.72 About 2,000 youths and heads of family, including some who had been living in Burundi since colonial times, were deported to Mushiha commune, in the savanna region bordering Tanzania. Some of those rounded up managed to outwit their guards, jumping onto passing trucks in the middle of the night and returning to Bujumbura or emigrating to Tanzania. The deported refugees found a solitary local government official waiting with food rations near a military camp to orient them in building the new camp at Mushiha. These men were supposed to build huts before their families arrived to join them a week later. Roundups of unemployed Rwandan refugees were frequent in Bujumbura in the 1970s and 1980s, reviving bitter memories of this episode. Despite the poor quality of its water, the drained land at Mushiha was good, and after a few years the refugees’ food supply improved somewhat. The camp held up to 25,000 refugees, becoming the second-largest concentration of Rwandan refugees after Bujumbura. In 1969, international aid agencies began to implement the ambitious Mosso-Cankuzo integrated development project, and one part extended into Mushiha. The aim of the project was to clear an area for the resettlement of Burundians from overpopulated regions. The refugees in Mushiha made good use of the resources available to them, and after a few years the camp increased its harvests, becoming an important center of agricultural production for the region. However, the scarcity of land meant that, despite everything, most refugees continued to live in poverty and food insecurity. Nonetheless, a few refugees from Mushiha managed to prosper as traders, in part by engaging in contraband with Tanzania. For the youth, the escape route from the camps was through secondary school. In 1973, following a new crisis in Rwanda, 4,000 refugees arrived in Bujumbura and the surrounding area. A total of 2,500 were sent to the Bukemba, Mugera, and Muramba camps. Hundreds of students and young workers known as the “soixante-treizards” (the seventy-threes) remained in

The Roots of Change


Bujumbura. A number of these new refugees came from the National University of Rwanda, where they had managed to enroll thanks to aboveaverage exam results. Better educated, more open to the world, and without attachment, they also benefited from a developing international support system for refugees, particularly scholarships, which had not existed ten years earlier. In 1973, 700 young refugees received scholarships for secondary and university studies. Some of these students, however, remained for only a short time in Burundi before moving elsewhere in Africa and Europe to continue their studies. Some pursued brilliant careers in Europe and in intergovernmental organizations. When President Bagaza assumed power in 1976, a group of Rwandan professionals took for granted the goodwill the Burundian government had shown toward Rwandan refugees during President Micombero’s regime and wrote to the new president asking for the same advantages as their Burundian colleagues. They specifically requested the establishment of a system for purchasing or renting houses, which, it seemed, caused President Bagaza to react with mockery. He is reported to have answered that he thought that the Rwandans were going to ask him for help in returning to their country, but they were asking him to give them houses in Burundi. Later, President Bagaza, driven by fervent nationalism, took the opposing position of his predecessor’s policies with measures reflecting the Rwandans’ status as foreigners. The Rwandans were forced to acquire an identity card for foreigners that had to be renewed annually for a fee. They were often victims of harassment by local officials and municipal police and sometimes by their bosses. President Bagaza initiated the modernization of government and improvement of education. Despite the economic growth that marked the regime’s first five years, however, Burundi remained one of the poorest countries in the world. In September 1986, the country was forced to adopt a structural adjustment plan. A wave of dismissals and early retirement affected Rwandan employees working in the public sector, including teachers, 300 of which were fired, most of them being Rwandans. The government again raised the grades required for refugee children to enter secondary school. Many refugee children transferred to lower-quality private schools or left school altogether. The government also excluded Rwanda refugee businesspeople from bidding for government contracts. After a decade of relatively improved living conditions, the 1980s then saw widespread impoverishment of Rwandan refugees in Bujumbura. Those refugees who had the opportunity left the country for Kenya or Zaire or moved farther afield in Africa, Europe, and later Canada. Some professionals and tradespeople even went so far as to return to Rwanda despite the risks of doing so. A small minority of better-established Rwandans, many of whom had acquired Burundian citizenship, were able to


The Antecedents

make the most of it and opted for integration. But most of the second generation of Rwandan refugees, even those with a university education, were now almost completely closed off. In September 1987, President Bagaza, who was isolated internationally by his conflict with the Catholic Church, was overthrown by Major Pierre Buyoya. One year later, a series of massacres took place in northern Burundi in which Rwandan refugees were targeted along with Burundian Tutsis. Once again, the situation changed drastically, and Rwandan refugees were treated more favorably by the Burundian government. One of the major initiatives of the new regime was to grant Rwandan refugees a permanent refugee identity card. President Buyoya later gradually introduced a political transition process that sought to reintegrate the Hutu opposition, part of which was living in Rwanda, into the country’s political and social life. In 1991, Palipehutu, the Hutu extremist movement, tried to sabotage this process of reconciliation and launched attacks against military targets in the countryside and in Bujumbura. In late November, Hutu extremists systematically set about killing Rwandan refugees in the northwestern provinces of Cibitoke and Bubanza, not far from the border with Zaire.73 At the end of October 1993, civil war broke out in Burundi following the assassination of the Hutu president, Melchior Ndadaye, by Tutsi soldiers. Rwandan refugees were again killed along with Burundian Tutsis in massacres perpetrated by Hutu extremists. For their own protection, they organized night patrols bearing traditional weapons—mostly in the outlying districts of Bujumbura and in the Ruzizi plains, near the border with Zaire. The Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) leaders asked them to defend themselves but to stay out of a conflict that had nothing to do with them.74 In a communiqué, the FRODEBU-dominated government, the party of late President Ndadaye, accused the refugees patrolling their neighborhoods of committing murders and robbery. At the height of the massacres of Tutsis in various parts of the country, the government thus ordered refugees to leave their safety to the security forces and ordered local authorities to put a stop to their patrols.75 The next day, Iteka, the human rights league, sharply criticized the generalized character of the government’s accusations and stressed the danger of stigmatizing foreigners in a way that could “lead to massacres,” given the circumstances.76 Following the Ibyitso (the accomplices) crisis caused by the feigned attack against Kigali carried out by the Rwandan army on 4 October 1990 and the ensuing arrest of thousands of Tutsis, a number of relatively well-off Rwandan mothers with their children sought refuge in Burundi while their husbands remained in Rwanda. Then, after the signature of the Arusha Accords in August 1993 and with rising insecurity in Burundi following the murder of President Ndadaye, many of these families returned to Rwanda, and the mothers of these families declared that, if they had to die, they pre-

The Roots of Change


ferred to do so at home. Stigmatized by the extremists when they returned to Rwanda, very few of these families were to survive the genocide. In 1994, refugees in Burundi did not wait for the end of the war against the genocidal forces in their homeland. From June 1994 and throughout that summer, thousands of them moved into areas liberated by the RPF in the eastern parts of the country. Thus, many Rwandan refugees from Burundi returned home, looking for refuge. Rwandan Refugees in Congo/Zaire

At the end of 1961, when the largest influx of Rwandan refugees arrived in Congo Kinshasa, the country was subject to serious political instability. In 1962, some 60,000 Rwandan refugees were in the Congo, spread out around Luvungi and Nyangezi, south of Bukavu, and in the larger towns of Bukavu and Goma. In the beginning, the central and provincial authorities spontaneously welcomed these refugees, while cooperating with Rwanda in its fight against the inyenzi. Thus, in August 1962, a large roundup was made in Bukavu of Rwandan refugees labeled inyenzi, who were sent to prison.77 But it was the start of the Mulelist rebellion at the end of 1963 that was to mark a brutal change for the refugees. After the assassination in January 1961 of the Congo’s nationalist leader, Patrice Lumumba, his associates sought to carry on the nationalist struggle. In 1963, Lumumba’s former education minister, Pierre Mulele, launched an armed rebellion known as Kwilu in the Bandundu region in the west of the country. That same year, the Lumumbist Mouvement National Congolais (MNC/Lumumba) created a coalition of revolutionary groups called the Conseil National de Libération (CNL), which took over and extended the Mulelist insurrection to the center and east of the country. The CNL, whose government, installed at Kisangani, was recognized by some African countries, mobilized thousands of supporters in what was called the Simba rebellion. This carried off victory after victory and gained control over three-quarters of the country outside of the big towns. The Simba rebellion was notorious for its belief in black magic and for the atrocities it committed against civilians, both Congolese and European. In 1963, CNL president Christophe Gbenye assigned the provinces of North Katanga and Kivu respectively to Laurent Kabila and Gaston Soumialot. The latter launched his guerrilla operations in January 1964 around the Ruzizi plains, where there were Rwandan refugee camps. In July 1964, Soumialot signed a cooperation agreement with François Rukeba that joined his group of inyenzi in the fighting. This allowed the inyenzi to benefit from a rear base on the southwestern border of Rwanda and to acquire weaponry. Two groups of inyenzi, one led by Mudandi and the other by Ngurumbe, fought alongside Soumialot’s Mulelists in South


The Antecedents

Kivu and Kabila in North Katanga. 78 In North Kivu, the Rwandan refugees who had remained aloof from the Mulelist rebellion, which was seldom present in the region, paid the price for their presumed association with the rebels.79 A large influx of Rwandan refugees poured into Kivu province, mainly into Goma, after the September 1961 referendum, which proclaimed a republic in Rwanda. One month later, thousands of Rwandan refugees were expelled from Goma. A Congolese charity helped 2,000 refugees settle to the north of the town in the locality of Bibwe. Under the influence of young Tutsi priests who had come from Rwanda to help them, the Rwandan refugees in Bibwe, unlike other Rwandan refugees living in camps, did not object to the prospect of long-term settlement. Immediately on arrival, they began to clear land and start cultivation. While waiting for the first harvest, in order to survive, some refugees began to hunt and others lived off wild plants, but some fifty died of hunger.80 Another camp, Ihula, was set up not far from Bibwe, along with Kalonge camp near Bukavu. Later, because of development assistance for small farmers and the fertility of local soil, Bibwe and Ihula camps became important centers for agricultural production. The creation of the province of North Kivu in August 1962 exacerbated tensions between the Banyarwanda (people of Rwandan culture living in the Congo) from Masisi and the Hunde, Nande, and Nyanga populations. The Banyarwanda, most of whom had settled in Masisi, objected to their political marginalization in the new provincial entity, where their demographic importance was nevertheless still decisive. In his report for October 1963, a UNHCR official, François Preziosi, explained that use of the designation “Tutsi” by the local authorities “indicated a mixture of subjective fear, hatred and frustration, very similar to the term ‘Jew’ in Nazi Germany.”81 In November 1963, the declaration of a state of emergency in North Kivu served as the pretext for a campaign of repression against the Banyarwanda that extended to Rwandan refugees. At the end of 1963, the Bibwe and Ihula camps were attacked by local communities. Most of the refugees living there were able to flee to Uganda, while the population of Bibwe and Ihula dropped from 13,000 to 5,000.82 An intervention by Preziosi had, against all odds, succeeded in preventing the worst.83 One year later, things turned out differently for Preziosi. While fighting raged around Bukavu in South Kivu, he was killed on 18 August 1964 by Simba rebels while trying to protect Rwandan refugees in Mwamba camp. It was during the battle for Bukavu, a key episode in the defeat of the Simba rebellion, that, on 19 August 1964 the government in Kinshasa ordered the expulsion of all Rwandan refugees accused of colluding with the Mulelists. Mass arrests of refugees took place in Bukavu and the surrounding camps as well as in Goma. Six refugee camps in South Kivu were closed; only Kalonge camp near Bukavu survived, but its population

The Roots of Change


dropped from 3,000 to 1,500.84 Approximately 5,000 refugees were transported by boat from Bukavu to Goma. In Goma, 800 refugees from the city, all men, were jailed. The Congolese authorities did not hide their desire to send them to Rwanda followed by the rest of the refugees. Faced with resistance by the prisoners, the Congolese soldiers opened fire, killing twelve of them.85 At the end of 1964, while visiting Goma after having stopped the rebel advance on Bukavu, General Leonard Mulamba ordered the release of all the prisoners. Of the contingent of refugees brought from Bukavu, around 2,000 settled in the Bibwe and Ihula camps, while over 3,000 were flown to Tanzania. During this time, 10,000 refugees from Kivu region made their own way to Uganda, and 10,000 others went to Burundi. The Rwandan refugee population registered with UNHCR in the Congo thus dropped from around 60,000 in 1962 to 28,000 at the end of 1966.86 In the region of Masisi, the Banyarwanda rose up again in October 1965 owing to extortion and harassment by the local authorities; these authorities accused the refugees of involvement with the Mulelists. Faced with this rebellion, the provincial assembly in North Kivu adopted a “law aimed at ordering the expulsion of all Rwandans from the region owing to collusion with the rebels.”87 The provincial assembly attempted to extend the government expulsion measure from the Rwandan refugees to the Congolese Banyarwanda. It was, however, never put into effect. After seizing power in November 1965, General Joseph-Desiré Mobutu adopted a policy of national unity. He reduced the total number of provinces from 21 to 8. North Kivu once again became a district of Kivu province, which eased tensions in the region. He also issued a presidential order outlawing racism and tribalism and proved relentless in his fight against these sectarian ills, which, in his view, had been responsible for past rebellions. This led the officials in North Kivu to adopt a more conciliatory attitude toward the Banyarwanda.88 For the sake of reinforcing national cohesion, the government in Kinshasa dispatched a commission of inquiry on the Banyarwanda question to North and South Kivu in October 1966. Its findings identified four categories of Banyarwanda according to when they had settled in the region. Some had settled there in the seventeenth century, others in 1918, and a third group had been transferred there by the Belgian colonial administration between 1936 and 1955. The fourth category was that of Rwandan refugees. 89 The commission’s report made no distinction between Hutus and Tutsis, but it did establish the first official recognition that part of the Banyarwanda community had originated in the Congo. This had the effect of clarifying the generalized assumptions held by the North Kivu officials, who sought to rid themselves of the Banyarwanda on the pretext that they were all Rwandans. 90 Their aggressive xenophobia, which


The Antecedents

tended to associate the Banyarwanda with the refugees, had the unintended effect of bringing the two groups closer together. To strengthen his hold on power, President Mobutu surrounded himself with personalities who posed no political threat because they came from minority communities and were, therefore, unlikely to set up an independent regional power base. Thus, in 1969, he appointed Barthélémy Bisengimana, a 1959 refugee, chief of staff of the president’s office, a very powerful position that Bisengimana occupied with authority until 1977. With the sudden departure of the Belgian colonial officials, entire areas of government services stopped functioning for lack of trained cadres. With the return of peace, Rwandan refugees armed with diplomas easily found employment. Most of the first generation of Rwandan university graduates—or those close to graduating—who had been stranded abroad by the 1959 revolution at the University of Lovanium at Kinshasa or else in Belgian universities began converging on the Congo. Within the country, they represented a relatively high proportion of its first graduates.91 In 1960, the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization launched a broad program of technical assistance to provide the country secondary school teachers to replace former Belgian colonial teachers. This attracted French-speaking volunteers from all over the world. A number of Rwandan refugee graduates were hired, many of whom had no teacher training. They benefited from the same treatment reserved for expatriates as the other volunteers. In 1970 Rwandans were excluded from the program because the Congolese government argued that Rwandans had the same level of competence as Congolese nationals, acquired in the same colonial schools; they had no special competence to offer. Many Rwandans excluded from the program sought integration in the Congolese administration and the private sector.92 In May 1971, a presidential order signed by President Mobutu was issued consisting of a single article granting Congolese nationality to persons originally from Ruanda-Urundi and living in the Congo as of 30 June 1960.93 Many refugees rushed to acquire Congolese nationality under the terms of this order.94 One year later, it was declared null and void by the 1972 law on nationality. Parliament felt that it was a ruse by the executive to confer Zairean nationality upon Rwandan refugees.95 Article 15 of that law provided that the Banyarwanda who immigrated during the colonial period and who had entered Zaire before 1950 were indeed considered Zairean citizens. By pretending to be native Banyarwanda, Rwandan refugees acquired Zairean nationality, and this opened the door to their integration into Zairean society. Rwandan refugees with diplomas left teaching to work in various sectors, where they quickly rose up in the hierarchy. Henceforth assimilated as local Banyarwanda, they reached the highest administrative and sometimes political positions. In 1973, former Rwandan refugees benefited from “Zairisation,” a measure that granted Zaireans ownership of private businesses that

The Roots of Change


had belonged to foreigners, essentially Belgians. Some Rwandans invested in cattle ranches in the Masisi, which provided the basis for a lucrative trade in meat supplying Kinshasa and the country’s other large urban areas. The acquisition of large tracts of land gave rise to sharp tensions with the other ethnic groups in North Kivu, but in the large towns far from Kivu, integration of long-term Rwandan refugees was not only economic but also social, ties having been created with Zairean society, notably through intermarriage. The 1970s, although prosperous for the elite long-term refugees, marked a decline in the country’s economic and social situation. Few jobs had been created in Zaire since the end of colonization, and public investment was concentrated in education. Once the jobs in the public sector left vacant by the departure of colonial officials had been filled, employment opportunities became scarcer for young graduates without political connections. After six years of solid growth, Zairisation dealt a fatal blow to the country’s economy in 1973, which went into sharp decline until 1983, followed by a short period of stabilization and then going into free fall from the beginning of 1987. The success of the Banyarwanda Tutsi elites and more specifically of the long-term Rwandan refugees aroused jealousy and rancor among other ethnic groups in North Kivu. In 1978, the Legislative Council (the national assembly) attempted to adopt a law that would abrogate article 15 of the 1972 law granting nationality to the Banyarwanda. Kengo wa Dongo, then a parliamentarian, commented on the abrogation bill, declaring that, for him, his fellow deputies were not targeting the 1950 immigrants: “You are only targeting those political refugees who arrived after 1960, who occupied your jobs and acquired Zairean nationality through our own fault, because our administration is not very well organized.”96 President Mobutu refused to sign the abrogating law. But the breaking point was reached in September 1980, when two Banyarwanda Tutsis and a former Rwandan refugee, Rwanyindo Ruzirabwoba, were appointed to the Central Committee of the Popular Movement for the Revolution (MPR), while no Munyarwanda Hutu was appointed to it. Ever since their failed 1978 bill, the parliamentarians considered the nationality of the Banyarwanda to be questionable while the current law did not allow a refugee, even a legally naturalized one, to occupy a political position. Young Hutu officials addressed a memorandum to President Mobutu denouncing the marginalization of Banyarwanda Hutus by the Tutsis. Tension broke out at the University of Kinshasa, where students from North Kivu ethnic groups roughed up Tutsi students in an attempt to expel them from the university. In March 1981, the traditional chiefs of the Hunde, the main group “hosting” the Banyarwanda in North Kivu, sent a memorandum to President Mobutu demanding that the Banyarwanda in North Kivu be stripped of their Zairean nationality. Two weeks later, in a speech to the MPR Central Committee, President Mobutu dropped the Banyarwanda and


The Antecedents

the former Rwandan refugees.97 In June 1981, a new nationality law was adopted, canceling that of 1972 and retroactively abrogating the Zairean nationality of those whose parents, originally from Rwanda, had settled after the creation of the Congo Free State in 1885.98 In response to these developments, the Banyarwanda elites and the long-term refugees formed associations to challenge the 1981 nationality law and more specifically its retroactive provisions. Ten years later, the Conférence Nationale Souveraine (Sovereign National Conference), which convened in August 1991, endorsed the political exclusion of the Banyarwanda; all of their delegates were rejected except for Hutus from the Rutshuru region (precolonial Bwisha). The constitution adopted by the conference upheld the 1981 nationality law, and the Banyarwanda were thus excluded from the transitional government.99 These difficulties, aggravated by further collapse of the country’s economy from the early 1980s, lowered the expectations of second-generation Rwandan refugees. They turned their backs on university studies in favor of technical training and lower-paid jobs, while others fell back on the informal sector like many other young educated Zaireans.100 By the late 1980s, the attractive glow of the Zairean experience had vanished for former Rwandan refugees. However, for the elites and the less well-favored groups alike, mainly those living in Kivu’s towns, their settled lives in Zaire remained their only option, for want of any realistic alternative.101 It was the audacity of the RPF attack in October 1990 and the solidarity it called for from other refugees that changed the minds of the elites among the long-term Rwandan refugees in Zaire as they began to consider returning to Rwanda as a credible option.102 The country’s disintegration at the start of the 1990s accentuated this trend. Zaire was sinking into instability and increased poverty following looting in 1991 and 1993, which hit Kinshasa and Goma hard. In March 1993, interethnic strife set Banyarwanda Hutu militias against Hunde militias and Nyangas, which left around 7,000 dead, including some Tutsis in the Masisi. Despite their attachment to the country, its rapid disintegration ended up convincing most Rwandan refugees that exile in Zaire was no longer a viable option. Rwandan Refugees in Tanzania

The first Rwandan refugees began to arrive in Tanzania in 1959. According to UNHCR estimates, there were around 12,000 refugees by the end of 1961, including 5,000 who were totally dependent on humanitarian aid. This figure does not take into account those who had spontaneously settled in rural areas of the Kagera and Mwanza regions, whose inhabitants traditionally maintained close ties with those on the other side of the border. In 1964 and 1965, more than 3,000 additional refugees arrived from the Congo.103

The Roots of Change


The Tanzanian authorities welcomed the refugees but without making sufficient resources available to help them properly. The refugees were initially scattered around their entry points, and many of them were obliged to seek work as day laborers or as cowherds among the local inhabitants in order to survive.104 The Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), the ruling party, shared UNAR’s nationalist and anticolonial ideology and gave financial help to Mwami Kigeli and the UNAR leaders, who spent several years in Dar es Salaam. Once independence was proclaimed in Rwanda, the Tanganyika government came to the conclusion that the refugees could not return to their home country and set about settling them more permanently. The central and regional authorities kept them away from the border with Rwanda in order to discourage inyenzi incursions and installed them further south near the border with Burundi at Muyenzi camp in Ngara District. One thing that motivated these authorities was to see if settling this large group of refugees in a region infested with tsetse flies and wild animals could open it up for human habitation.105 Overwhelmed by the huge mass of refugees, the authorities sought to disperse them to reduce the cost of their upkeep and make them selfsupporting more quickly. This dispersal would also have increased the area earmarked for elimination of the tsetse fly. A majority of refugees categorically refused. One group of them stood apart from the rest and demanded to be taken back to the Karagwe region. They were among the first refugees to arrive, coming from the politically and socially marginal region of Gisaka in Rwanda, opposite Karagwe. This group of around 4,000 people who had been allowed to choose the location of their camp collaborated easily with the local authorities. Upon arrival in Karagwe, they started planting immediately and broke away from the political activism that was to typify the group in Muyenzi that they had just left. The availability of good land and fewer problems with tsetse flies and wild animals meant that the Karagwe community quickly became self-sufficient in food. Later the installation of water supply systems and development of herding made them relatively prosperous. The situation of the 10,000 refugees living in Muyenzi took a very different course. The community was divided by various degrees of social diversity, but it was above all torn between pacifists and militarists. Because of the closeness of the camp to those located not far away in Burundi, inyenzi were being actively recruited there. Despite their divisions, most of the refugees in Muyenzi found common cause in rejecting the idea of either settling permanently or being dispersed, in the hope of an early return to Rwanda. They refused to plant perennial crops, constructed grass huts rather than permanent houses, and refused to take part in community activities. In the Ngara region, where the Muyenzi camp was installed, the local TANU leaders, who were mostly from the Hangaza ethnic group, traditional farmers who dominated the local administration, did not look kindly on any permanent settlement by


The Antecedents

these refugees. They feared that if the refugees got the right to vote they would ally themselves with the Hima minority of cattle farmers, who were culturally akin to the Tutsis. For these authorities, one way of countering this threat was to disperse the refugees over a wide area.106 The Tanzanian authorities began by reacting to the refugees’ lack of cooperation by arresting fifty of their leaders, cutting their food supply, and closing down schools. The fear of forced repatriation to Rwanda prompted a large exodus of refugees toward Burundi in June 1963, but Burundi refused to accept them and returned them to Tanzania a week later.107 Faced with the threat of its refugee resettlement program collapsing, the government turned to UNHCR and the Red Cross. This resulted in the adoption of a new resettlement program, the release of refugee leaders, and the cessation of interference by local authorities. In addition, the principle of family dispersal was modified, and refugees were regrouped in some thirty villages quite close to each other. Agricultural activities intensified, and a system of wells was built. Drought, the poor soil quality, and the continued resistance of some refugees to the idea of a permanent settlement all hindered the consolidation of the Muyenzi camp. Later smuggling activities with Burundi, mainly involving cattle sold at a much better price across the border, helped improve the refugees’ difficult situation. After adoption of the “villagization” policy in 1974, which obliged them to move into ujamaa villages, a large part of the refugee population migrated to Burundi. From 10,000 refugees in 1962, there were no more than 3,000 people in the camp by 1976.108 Hard feelings among the local officials persisted. When Tanzanian citizenship was granted collectively to all the refugees, implementation of the measure was held up in the Ngara District; in 2006 and again in 2013, that district was the focal point for the unlawful expulsion of those people who had a Rwandan background. At the end of 1964 and in early 1965, 3,300 refugees were expelled from the Congo, arriving in Tanzania from Goma after traveling for three days by plane, train, and then trucks. The Mwesi camp is located in a region of high plateaus at an altitude of 1,800 meters (5,900 feet), almost 400 kilometers (250 miles) away from Rwanda. At that time, the region was isolated and sparsely populated. Preparation of the site resulted from a tripartite cooperation agreement between the Tanzanian government, UNHCR, and the Lutheran World Federation, and it became a model camp. A road had been built from the nearest town, Mpanda, located 120 kilometers (75 miles) away. Then, schools, health clinics, a postal service, and electricity were installed, and modern farming equipment was provided. The refugees were pleased with the site, which reminded them of Rwanda, only cooler. The region was good for cattle-herding, but unfortunately, having arrived by plane, the refugees had no cattle. After the first two years, things went well: refugees were able to cultivate the land and began to pro-

The Roots of Change


duce a small surplus despite the fact that most of them had been herders or office workers in the Congo.109 In 1967, relations with local authorities deteriorated. Half the refugees refused to accept a Tanzanian identity card (which did not confer citizenship) because they did not intend to lose their Rwandan nationality. Some were arrested for insubordination. Because of the important infrastructure at the camp, the government decided to resettle people around it who were originally from the overpopulated Kilimanjaro region. Later other populations from the vicinity settled there, also drawn by the facilities.110 The Mwesi community became relatively prosperous as a result of commercial production of agricultural surpluses and activities that produced nonagricultural revenue, such as road haulage. Their herds of cattle increased substantially as a result. The site saw its refugee population diminish, especially after the granting of collective Tanzanian citizenship. The best educated people settled in towns in the region or in Dar es Salaam, and one group migrated to Burundi. Separation from family members who had remained in the Congo also prompted them to leave.111 But in general their isolation, their difficulties of communication with Mpanda town, and limited access to secondary schools for their children all restricted their development prospects. In fact, overall, the underdevelopment and marginal location of the regions in which the Rwandan refugees were settled, far from the country’s economic centers and secondary schools, meant that the refugees in Tanzania remained essentially rural. In contrast to the refugees in other host countries, those living in Tanzania did not form a large class of professionals. Successful livestock rearing undertaken by many of the long-term refugees allowed them to reach a level of material comfort without having to resort to the modern salaried professions. The prospect of returning to Rwanda vanished, and, because of their political vulnerability, the refugees in the Mwesi camp began to demand Tanzanian citizenship. In December 1980, Tanzania declared itself willing to offer Tanzanian citizenship collectively to 36,000 Rwandan refugees living there. In the old camps at Karagwe and Muyenzi, administrative hindrances by the local authorities slowed implementation of this policy, but, in certain cases, so did the refusal of some refugees to formulate a request. Thus, in these two localities, only a small minority received Tanzanian citizenship.112 This situation was revealed in 1985, when local authorities in the Kagera region rounded up what they claimed were 1982 refugees from Uganda, threatening to deport them. During the sorting process undertaken by UNHCR, it turned out that very few came from Uganda. By far the majority were Rwandan refugees from the 1960s and earlier immigrants who, despite repeated attempts, had not been able to obtain their certificate of Tanzanian nationality.113


The Antecedents

This situation contrasted with that of the refugees in Mwesi, who had a higher level of education and were on better terms with the local authorities. In 1987, more than 1,800 out of the 2,780 persons living in Mwesi had received Tanzanian nationality.114 The declaration of collective naturalization allowed the camps to gradually enter into the normal Tanzanian administrative structures, giving the former refugees the feeling of being definitively integrated into the national community. This impression was backed up by the local authorities of the Ngara District, where the former Muyenzi camp was located, who told those refugees born in Tanzania that their birth certificate was sufficient proof of their Tanzanian nationality.115 Relatively late compared with other countries in the subregion, Tanzania ended up caving in to anti-Rwandan xenophobic pressures. Between 2006 and 2007, around 18,000 former refugees and older immigrants expelled from Tanzania had arrived in Rwanda, and many of them claimed to have Tanzanian citizenship or temporary resident status. These people were primarily from the districts of Bukoba, Karagwe, Mureba, and Ngara in northwestern Tanzania. Upon arrival in Rwanda, they showed photocopies of their naturalization documents and voter cards. The expelled refugees had been beaten, their possessions looted, and their houses and other property destroyed. In addition, their cattle had been confiscated by the police, the local authorities, or members of the sungu-sungu militias.116 Some women had been raped and other individuals assassinated.117 One victim reported that, when they had declared they were Tanzanian citizens, the answer came back, “Citizenship doesn’t exist for you Rwandans. You have to leave.”118 The image of Tanzania, long presented as a model of integration for the older refugees, should be qualified when it came to those from Rwanda. Even if the abusive expulsion of the older refugees from Tanzania did not take place until later in the 1959 refugees’ exile, it shows how precarious their integration in Tanzania really was. Rwandan Refugees in Uganda

Between 1959 and 1964, Rwandan refugees arrived in Uganda in successive waves until the total grew to around 67,000, along with thousands of heads of cattle. More than 40 percent of them, especially those with large herds of cattle, settled spontaneously in the rural Ankole District.119 The others, after passing through reception centers, were settled in the Nakivale and Oruchinga camps in the Ankole District.120 These camps were located a little farther from the border with Rwanda in order to prevent armed incursions by the inyenzi and cattle rustlers. These two camps quickly became full, so five other camps were soon created: four in the district of Toro and one much farther north in Bunyoro District. One part of these camps was reserved for cattle-herders and another for farmers.

The Roots of Change


The first years were very difficult. The Rwandan refugee camps were located in isolated areas in order to avoid conflicts over land with local inhabitants. Just as in Tanzania, the settlement of refugees in these isolated regions was also intended to help clear the area of the tsetse fly and create viable conditions. At first, the refugees had no intention of settling permanently in Uganda and hoped for a quick return to Rwanda. Initially, this was also the position of the Ugandan authorities. For this reason, investment in water supplies, health services, and education as well as the promotion of cash crops was made only later. The refugees were sent off into the bush, which was often infested with tsetse flies and wild animals, carrying food rations for a short period after which they were expected to clear and cultivate the land to meet their own needs. They had to cut down the bush and build makeshift shelters. Because of the human and bovine overpopulation as well as the tsetse fly, refugees lost many of their cattle, giving some refugees a reason to leave the camps in order to preserve what cattle remained, while others gave up trying to raise cattle and set about planting crops. In order to survive, refugees were often obliged to look for work with nearby small farmers. Some were lucky in being able to mind cattle, but the majority had to resign themselves to work in the fields. Because of the gradual overcrowding of the camps in those first years a number of refugees were displaced several times from one camp to another. These traumatic departures meant they had to leave their first crops and their huts behind them in order to begin all over again by clearing the land. Only in 1968 did efforts begin to consolidate the facilities in these camps to allow for permanent occupation and self-sufficiency. This was done by granting more land to the refugees, by the introduction of cash crops, and through programs to eradicate the tsetse fly. Primary school classrooms were built to replace the education formerly dispensed under trees, and refugee children were allowed to go to the local state secondary schools. It was only in 1974 that the living standard of refugees in these camps caught up with those of the local inhabitants, who were themselves poor. In some camps people continued to suffer from hunger, and even in others that were able to produce a small surplus, their weak integration into the local economy meant that the most common fate was cash poverty. As a result of insufficient living standards, many refugees in Uganda lived for a long time in thatched-roof houses.121 At the start of refugee settlement in 1962, government officials encouraged refugees to settle and make do outside the camps. Because of the lack of organization and government control in Uganda, those refugees living outside the camps succeeded in more or less integrating into the Hima population in the eastern Ankole District, blurring their legal status. Over time, they became de facto citizens, acquiring land and participating in elections.


The Antecedents

Venal local officials obligingly issued them documents confirming their “indigenous status,” while their neighbors continued to stress their foreign origins. By the end of Milton Obote’s first regime in 1970, it had become much more difficult for refugees to leave the camps, and this policy continued even after the overthrow of Obote’s regime. The social climate for refugees worsened at the local level during the 1970s. Land occupation intensified with the immigration of Iru and Kiga populations into the east of the Ankole District (known as Mbarara District from 1976 onward). The 1975 decree on land reform put an end to informal traditional occupation of land, accelerating the scramble for land titles and land rental. This decree also prohibited refugees from buying or renting land. Those who had the means were able to get around this restriction by obtaining the necessary documents from corrupt local authorities. These developments contributed to mounting tension at the local level and to anti-Rwandan sentiments. Despite the difficult conditions in which they lived, refugees in the camps made the education of their children an urgent priority. They began by organizing classes for their children under trees. It was only in 1967 that the first classrooms began to be built with the help of local churches. Despite this, pupils in the camps proved to be high achievers. At the primary final exam in 1970, all 90 students from Kahunge camp passed. Among the first ten pupils from Kabarole District, six came from Kahunge. At the top was Peter Bayingana, who later studied medicine at Makerere University and was to be one of the commanders of the attack by the Rwandan Patriotic Army in October 1990.122 These good grades allowed refugee children to enter the country’s best secondary schools, thereby escaping from the camps, where only the older adults and little-educated youth remained. In order to increase their chances of integration, many young refugees took advantage of their move to secondary school to change their names and pass as Ugandans. This subterfuge helped some refugees to integrate more easily into the country’s professional life. But the rise of anti-Banyarwanda feelings during the 1980s made this type of maneuver more and more difficult. At the political level, the situation of Rwandan refugees in Uganda fluctuated greatly according to the successive political regimes. The initial goodwill shown by the Ugandan authorities toward the refugees turned to hostility, especially after Obote became president in 1966. The fact that refugees were seen as being associated with the Democratic Party (DP), a rival to the ruling Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), was the main reason. Because the Catholic-Protestant divide was at that time the main reason for joining one or the other of the two main national parties, the essentially Catholic Rwandans were suspected of sympathy for the elitist DP. Ethnicpolitical affinities also contributed to those suspicions. The Ankole region had similar ethnic-political divisions to those in Rwanda, although they were less polarized.

The Roots of Change


Eastern Ankole, where the first refugee camps were established, was inhabited mostly by Bahima herders who were culturally close to the Tutsis and had traditionally been politically dominant, although constituting a demographic minority. The other part of the Ankole population comprised mainly Bairu farmers. The Bahima supported the DP en bloc, while the Bairu divided their political allegiance according to their religion, with part supporting the DP and a Protestant majority supporting the UPC. The Bahima, who were at that time on the defensive, welcomed the Rwandan refugees in the hope that they would swell their ranks politically, but without ever really accepting them as their own. Having canceled the 1969 elections, which he feared he would lose, President Obote promised new elections in 1971. In preparation for his reelection, he moved against those groups that were politically hostile to him, especially the Banyarwanda. He ordered an ethnic census in the Ankole District in order to stop Rwandan refugees from voting and eventually expel them from the country whenever their presence became too inconvenient to his maneuvers in retaining power.123 He prevented refugees from leaving the camps and forbade them to grow cash crops or send their children to the country’s secondary schools. In 1970, he ordered that companies and individual employers dismiss all unskilled non-Ugandans, a measure aimed primarily at Asians and Rwandans. Most of these measures had yet to be implemented when General Idi Amin launched his coup d’état against President Obote in 1971. In spite of its hostility toward refugees, certain aspects of the UPC’s political discourse won over a number of young Rwandans. The 1968–1971 period, corresponding to Obote’s “Move to the Left” campaign, saw an effervescence of left-wing radical, pan-African, and anti-imperialist political discussions. These ideas influenced a number of young Rwandans who had distanced themselves from the political conservatism of their community and who later were among the founders of the Rwandese Alliance for National Unity (RANU).124 The Amin regime marked a period of respite for the Rwandan refugees. Distrustful of the established political elites, Amin moved closer to the marginalized minorities, especially the Banyarwanda and Rwandan refugees. He invited Mwami Kigeli to move to Kampala, and he initiated an attempt at dialogue between the refugees’ representatives and the recently installed Habyarimana government aimed at organizing the repatriation of refugees. However, the Rwandan government withdrew from the talks.125 Amin gave Rwandan refugees access to army and government employment, but this goodwill was not without its limits. Hence the 1975 land reform decree prohibited refugees from acquiring land. Finally, in 1979, at the time of the Tanzanian invasion that was to overthrow him, Amin announced on the radio that all Rwandan refugees had to return to


The Antecedents

the camps. This lull was used by the refugees to begin their informal integration into Ugandan society, mainly by leaving the camps and renting land, despite the prohibition on it. Upon his return to power in 1980, Obote and his followers accused the Banyarwanda and the Rwandan refugees of having been fervent partisans of Amin and of having a major share of responsibility in his crimes, though in fact, the refugees who were actually implicated represented rather isolated cases.126 The return to power of Obote and the UPC after the fraudulent elections of December 1980 was a disaster for Rwandan refugees. Following the UPC’s electoral victory, three armed rebel movements formed, including the Popular Resistance Army (PRA), led by Yoweri Museveni, which sometime later became the National Resistance Army (NRA). The first military operation of Museveni’s group, in February 1981, was carried out by 27 fighters, including two Rwandan refugees, Fred Rwigema and Paul Kagame. In a speech in January 1982, President Obote invited Ugandans to get rid of the Rwandan refugees, who according to him had taken over land belonging to native Ugandans.127 Soon after, in an editorial, the official government newspaper accused Rwandan refugees of colluding with Museveni’s terrorist movement, illegally participating in the elections, and serving as the main perpetrators of Amin’s atrocities.128 Following those declarations, the government attempted to force the Banyarwanda living in the Ankole region to return to the refugee camps they were accused of having left illegally under the Amin regime. In various parts of the country, members of the UPC youth wing as well as officials belonging to this party set about stealing and looting under the pretext of flushing out those collaborating with the insurgents. It was in this context that some UPC youths trying to steal cattle were killed by Rwandan herders, triggering blind attacks of revenge against the Banyarwanda in various parts of Mbarara District. Two UPC Bairu ministers orchestrated a campaign of violence aimed at evicting the Banyarwanda from Mbarara District. They sought regional political capital and wanted to quench the demand for land in that district, while profiting personally from cattle stolen from the Banyarwanda. On 1 October 1982, units of the Special Paramilitary Forces accompanied by UPC youth attacked the Banyarwanda—refugees, migrants, and Ugandan citizens of Rwandan culture alike—but also Bahimas, Bairus, and Bakigas in the Mbarara District. Houses were sacked and burned down, people were beaten and killed, and women raped. The survivors were left no choice but either to return to the refugee camps or to go back to Rwanda. They could not take their belongings with them, notably their cattle. According to some sources, the violence resulted in about 100 deaths, and around 35,000 persons sought refuge in the camps, where they were surrounded; 45,000 entered Rwanda. Among the 35,000 IDPs detained in

The Roots of Change


old refugee camps in Uganda, many youths escaped to join Museveni, along with other youths who had always lived in those camps.129 Those who were able to cross the border were interned in camps in Rwanda under very harsh conditions. Because Rwanda had closed its border in November 1982, a group of around 4,000 people was stuck in a narrow band of territory forming a no man’s land, caught between their inability to enter Rwanda and fear of returning to Uganda.130 Without a real choice, given the refusal of the country where they were born, some old refugees preferred to commit suicide.131 The group remained for months, “rotting” there with limited aid from the Red Cross, slowly dying from infectious diseases and despair.132 One year later, in December 1983, evictions again took place in the Rakai District, east of the Mbarara District. A total of 20,000 people were expelled from their homes. In Rwanda, 10,000 refugees vanished into thin air before the Rwandan government could carry out a screening exercise in July 1983 in order to determine the status of each person. Many of the young internees in Rwanda joined up with Museveni’s bush rebellion. Out of 31,000 registered refugees, the government in Kigali recognized only 1,026 of them as having Rwandan citizenship.133 Rwandan security forces frequently picked up young refugee men, who later disappeared wihtout a trace.134 In Rwanda the refugees had stayed interned in isolated camps until the NR Acame to liberate southwestern Uganda at the end of 1985. The persecution of the Banyarwanda impelled more young Rwandans to become part of Museveni’s bush army, where they joined earlier recruits of the NRA such as Rwigema and Kagame. Of the 80,000 Banyarwanda victims of evictions in Mbarara District, less than half were originally Rwandan refugees, but of these, almost all had been living outside the camps. The mass evictions had the effect of bringing the Rwandan refugees who did not live in the camps, some of whom were engaged in a process of integration, closer to the lives of those who did live there and to their cause. The abuses committed in the Mbarara District and elsewhere in Uganda had the effect of a brutal political wake-up call for many groups of Rwandan refugees in the region and even beyond it. On 26 January 1986, Museveni’s NRA took Kampala with the help of thousands of Rwandan refugee fighters and officers. Out of a total contingent of around 14,000 fighters, approximately 3,000 were Banyarwanda and a majority were Rwandan refugees.135 Museveni recognized the contribution of Rwandan refugees to the NRA’s struggle. After the war, Major General Rwigema was named deputy commander in chief of the armed forces and deputy minister of defense, thus becoming second in command of the Ugandan army after Museveni. Major Kagame became deputy chief of the military intelligence service. Other Rwandan refugees occupied important positions, such as chief of police, director of the


The Antecedents

army’s medical services, as well as numerous brigade commanders. Rwandan refugees owed their positions to their early enrollment in Museveni’s rebellion and to the experience they acquired there. 136 Six months after the end of the war, Museveni announced that refugees who had lived for more than ten years in Uganda would soon be automatically granted Ugandan citizenship, breaking with the Ugandan state’s tradition of excluding Rwandan refugees from the nation.137 These positive developments did not last long. Paradoxically, the NRA victory, to which many Rwandan refugees had dearly contributed, would a few years later further strengthen the prospects of returning to Rwanda rather than the integration of Rwandan refugees in Uganda. Shortly after Kampala fell, these same Rwandan fighters, including those enjoying high rank in the Ugandan army, were reminded of their origins and sidelined. The NRA victory was followed by a veritable counter-coup against Rwandans that spread through the army and the Ugandan elites. The turning point was a parliamentary debate held in August 1990 about the ranches in Mawogola County in southwestern Uganda, where an armed standoff set absentee landowners against pastoral squatters, the latter including many Rwandan refugees. The three-day public debate took an extremely hostile turn for the refugees. Under pressure, Museveni closed the debate by endorsing a clause that restricted the right of access to ranch land to Ugandan citizens only. Politically, this meant he was closing the door to eventual Ugandan citizenship for the Rwandan refugees and their children. 138 Indeed, sometime before the ranch land issue was debated, parliament had ordered a census of noncitizens in the armed forces, requiring that all noncitizens be discharged from them. 139 These developments were to contribute to the attempted return by armed Rwandan refugees to their homeland in October 1990. It would, however, be a mistake to see this armed return simply as a response by the Rwandan refugees to the rejection of their integration by the top brass in Uganda after paying the price in blood for liberating the country.140 President Kagame claimed that, for both him and Rwigema, Rwandan refugees’ involvement in the NRA had, from the very start, the goal of participating in the struggle to liberate Uganda from dictatorship and then to use that experience to organize with a view to liberating Rwanda. Later they incited other refugees to join the NRA on that same basis.141 That did not mean, however, that for all the Rwandan refugees who joined the NRA, motives had always been so clear. Notably, the stances of those Rwandan refugees who had grown up in the camps should be distinguished from the motives of those who had never lived there. The violent expulsion in 1982 and 1983, and later the rise of anti-Rwandan sentiment post-1986 under a regime that was supposedly favorable to them, ended up making the option of integration in Ugandan society appear less and less attractive.

The Roots of Change


One of the rare studies, published in 1988, on the desire to return to Rwanda among ordinary Rwandan refugees provided some interesting insights about their motives.142 The researcher who carried out this qualitative study found that most of the young Rwandan refugees she talked with said they wanted to return one day to Rwanda.143 They have time and again felt that other Ugandans look down on Banyaruanda and consider them to be Rwandan. Therefore, many of those I talked to clearly showed that they felt alienated in Uganda—even if many of them had experienced no other homeland. True, in economic terms most have not—and feel not—that they have been discriminated against to any substantial degree, but the more general feeling of belonging lacked.144

Hearing that they wanted to return to Rwanda, she thought that this desire was based on a vision of Rwanda as a “promised land,” but that was not the case. On the contrary, she observed, they had good knowledge of the difficult social and economic situation that prevailed there.145 When I understood how well informed they were, I asked why they still wanted to go back. And since they knew the population densities there, why didn’t they understand Rwanda’s attitude toward the refugees? Some responses were then quite aggressive. They pointed out to me that there is no moral or legal right for a country to refuse their citizens readmission to the country even if they had such problems. (I had, of course, no arguments against this; they were absolutely right.) Some also said that money and material security of course made them doubt what to do, but that on the other hand they felt that they only had one motherland: Rwanda.146

Different but Converging Situations

During their thirty years in exile, the Rwandan refugees proved their resilience and capacity to adapt, and a small minority even achieved professional success and material comforts. The host populations and the Rwandan government, impressed by and envious of this success, often tended to generalize this reputation for success by extending it to all the refugees. However, the great majority of refugees lived in poverty in the camps or in slums throughout the region. After having abandoned their activist leaders’ plans to return to Rwanda by force, the Rwandan refugees focused on their material survival and integration into host countries. In order to do so, they demonstrated a spirit of adaptation, working in the fields while investing in their children’s education to free them from that. They had to humble themselves to integrate into the host populations and open up to their cultures, and some went so far as adopting their hosts’ culture almost completely. Conversely, helped by their


The Antecedents

geographical concentrations and their need for mutual solidarity in order to survive, for a long time they preserved their faith in the value of their cultural identity despite the reality of the situation. Following the measures allowing for informal integration, such as were granted to the refugees in the easygoing years of the 1970s, there came an increasingly rigid and even violent closing down of available options during the 1980s in Uganda, Burundi, and Zaire, three of the main countries hosting Rwandan refugees. The economic crisis and population growth placing more pressure on land were among the main factors contributing to anti-refugee sentiment.147 But the absence of white-collar employment opportunities was another factor that increased tensions. In 1990, researchers predicted on the basis of available data that the phenomenon of rejection of former refugees would accelerate and would create serious problems in the African Great Lakes region. Even Tanzania, a country long regarded as a model for the integration of refugees, got caught up in these developments in the 2000s. In the case of the Rwandan refugees, their rejection by the host populations was exacerbated by the visible ambition and success of some refugees, for example in Zaire under Mobutu or in Uganda after the NRA victory. In Burundi, with its limited resources and opportunities, the reintegration of Burundian Hutu elites—many of whom had lived in Rwanda— into the country’s political and social life was hardly compatible with the continued occupation of a small part of this space by the Rwandan refugees, who were Tutsis to boot. Lastly, quite apart from their ambitions and their enduring attachment to their national identity, their relatively large numbers added obstacles to their integration. After more than two decades of residence in their host countries, the number of Rwandan refugees had more than doubled, and their major investment in education resulted in a relatively high number of welleducated young people at a time when the opportunities available to them were decreasing. The particular historical conditions in Uganda during the second half of the 1980s meant that, for a number of Rwandan refugees, the matter of integration—official this time—was inescapable and creating tensions with the host community. For the second-generation refugees born or growing up in Burundi, where their token integration had been tolerated by the government circumstantially, the feeling of a significant impasse spread. In Zaire, the long-standing refugee community had sought to identify with the Banyarwanda living there and became resigned to sharing the complex situation of this group and to following the slow downward decline of the rest of Zairean society. From the mid-1980s, with the emergence of a second generation growing up as refugees, these pressures increased to the point that they had to begin searching for their own lasting solution to their situation. The pressures were expressed in different ways but were convergent in each of the

The Roots of Change


main refugee-hosting countries. They prompted a lively political awakening among some politically active refugees in Uganda, Burundi, and Kenya as well as in the small diasporas elsewhere in Africa, in Europe, and in North America. Apart from these initial scattered groups of militants, who became the first RPF recruits, the idea of a collective return to Rwanda was still considered by many a mere chimera. Notes

1. Republic of Rwanda, National Revolutionary Movement for Development (MRND), “Position du comité central du MRND face au problème des réfugiés rwandais” (Kigali: MRND, 26 July 1986). 2. In the summer of 1987 at the University of Dakar, the author invited fellow Rwandan refugees to meet at the Hotel Mille Collines in Kigali on 15 August 1995. 3. Paul Rutayisire, Privat Rutazibwa et Augustin Gatera, Rwanda: La Renaissance d’une Nation (Butare: Éditions de l’Université du Rwanda, 2012). 4. Gérard Prunier, “Éléments pour une histoire du Front patriotique rwandais,” Politique africaine 51 (October 1993): 121–138. 5. Mahmood Mamdani, When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2001), p. 17. 6. André Guichaoua, From War to Genocide: Criminal Politics in Rwanda, 1990–1994 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2015); Alan J. Kuperman, “Provoking Genocide: A Revised History of the Rwandan Patriotic Front,” Journal of Genocide Research 6, no. 1 (2004): 61–84. 7. Benjamin Chemouni, “Explaining the Design of the Rwandan Decentralization: Elite Vulnerability and the Territorial Repartition of Power,” Journal of Eastern African Studies 8, no. 2 (March 2014): 462–497. 8. Emanuel Ntezimana, “Histoire, culture et conscience nationale: le cas du Rwanda des origines à 1900,” Études rwandaises 1, no. 4 (1987): 462–497. 9. Ibid., 473. 10. Ibid., 473–474. 11. Ibid., 474–475. 12. These are tales (amakuru) that claim to be historical or factual genealogies of clans (ibisekuru). Some come from the early eighteenth century. There are also poems of praise and songs about clans, families, specific individuals, and herds of cattle. 13. For example: “God spends the day elsewhere, but passes the night in Rwanda”; “Rwanda attacks and is not attacked”; “When you refuse to spill blood for your country, dogs will lap it up.” 14. S. Nzahabwanayo, K. Horsthemke, and T. P. Mathebula, “Identification and Critique of the Citizenship Notion Informing the Itorero Training Scheme for School Leavers in Postgenocide Rwanda,” South African Journal of Higher Education 31, no. 2 (2017): 226‒250. 15. Ntezimana, “Histoire, culture et conscience nationale,” 493–494. 16. René Lemarchand, Rwanda and Burundi (New York: Praeger, 1970), p. 163. 17. Out of 912 persons prosecuted on the monarchist side by courts, 48 percent were Tutsis, 45 percent were Hutus, 6.5 percent were baTwa, and 0.5 percent were “Swahili.” Jean R. Hubert, La Toussaint Rwandaise et sa répression (Uccle: Académie Royale des Sciences d’Outre-Mer, 1965), p. 151. See also Lemarchand, Rwanda and Burundi, p. 165.


The Antecedents

18. Belgian military tribunals tried 912 persons, Hutus as well as Tutsis, from among those who carried out the repression, and 312 from among the arsonists. The former operated in small groups and tended not to target individuals. Hubert, La Toussaint Rwandaise et sa répression, p. 151. 19. “The decisive factor was that the Belgian authorities reacted to these ‘objective’ conditions in such a way as to make the success of the revolution a foregone conclusion. Once the Belgian administrators on the spot had decided that the peasant uprisings of November 1959 were a revolution (which they obviously were not), the real revolution could no longer be averted.” Lemarchand, Rwanda and Burundi, pp. 145–146. 20. Antoine Mugesera, Les conditions de vie des Tutsis au Rwanda de 1959 à 1990 (Kigali and Miélan: Édition Dialogue and Izuba, 2014), pp. 41–42. 21. S. K., interview with author, 3 May 2001, Rwandex Prison, Butare; A. K., interview with author, 18 May 2001, Kigembe. 22. Mugesera, Les conditions de vie, p. 64. 23. André Guichaoua, “The Problem of Rwandan Refugees and Banyarwanda Refugees in the African Great Lakes Region” (Geneva: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 1992), p. 20. 24. Mugesera, Les conditions de vie, p. 67. 25. R. A., interview with author, 15 April 2015, Kigali; E. G., interview with author, 18 September 2015, Kigali. 26. Jean-Marie Vianney Rutsindintwarane (president of the internal UNAR) to M. Guy Logiest (military commander in Kigali, Rwanda), “Note sur le problème des réfugiés de l’UNAR,” 2 November 1961, quoted in Mugesera, Les conditions de vie, p. 66. 27. Four months after independence, the reception centers and the religious missions were emptied of their displaced residents. A new but smaller wave of refugees went into exile later, fleeing the reprisals that followed the inyenzi attacks. 28. Rachel Yeld, “Implications of Experience with Refugees Settlement,” EAST Conference Paper (Kampala: Makerere University, 1965), p. 2. 29. Ibid., p. 1. 30. Circular no. 2/1961, 8 June 1961, quoted in Mugesera, Les conditions de vie, p. 75. 31. Ministry of the Interior and Public Administration, Circular no. 2420, 25 December 1973, referring to Presidential Order No. 25/1, 26 February 1966, concerning measures for the reintegration of refugees and miscellaneous claims. 32. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), The State of the World’s Refugees 2000: Fifty Years of Humanitarian Action (Geneva: UNHCR, January 2000), p. 49. 33. T. F. Betts, “Refugees in Eastern Africa: A Comparative Study” (Oxford, UK: Oxfam, May 1966). 34. The UNAR’s anticolonial stance and the fact that the inyenzi had been killing Europeans in Rwanda since 1962 placed refugees in an antagonistic relationship with some of the Westerners working to help them. 35. Barry N. Stein and Lance Clark, “Refugee Integration and Older Refugee Settlements in Africa,” Refugee Policy Group Paper, November 1990, 36. This was one of the results of the introduction of modern education during the colonial period, a common phenomenon in many African societies at that time. 37. Yeld, “Implications of Experience with Refugees Settlement,” p. 4. 38. Mugesera, Les conditions de vie, p. 113, n. 212. 39. Mugesera, Les conditions de vie, p. 131. 40. Alexis Kagame, Un abrégé de l’histoire du Rwanda, vol. 2 (Butare: Éditions universitaires du Rwanda, 1972), p. 187.

The Roots of Change


41. This agreement granted the Rwandese National Union (UNAR) two ministries, state secretaries, prefects, subprefects, significant participation in the Refugee Commissariat, and acceleration of the repatriation process for refugees. 42. Mugesera, Les conditions de vie, p. 114. 43. Ibid., p. 119. 44. Frank Rusagara, Resilience of a Nation: A History of the Military in Rwanda (Kigali: Fountain Publishers, 2009), p. 151. 45. This is based on Antoine Mugesera’s typology. He carried out the most complete study of the inyenzi. Mugesera, Les conditions de vie. 46. UNAR reported more than a thousand Tutsis killed and quoted the minister of the interior admitting that a genocide of Tutsis had been carried out. UNAR, Unité 7 (15 August 1962), quoted in Mugesera, Les conditions de vie, p. 119. 47. Patrick Lefèvre and Jean-Noël Lefèvre, Les Militaires belges et le Rwanda (1916–2006) (Brussels: Éditions Racine, 2006), p. 114. 48. Lemarchand, Rwanda and Burundi, pp. 222–223. 49. The Belgian government wanted to recall these three agents “because they had become too involved in the country’s domestic affairs,” according to the wording of a letter dated 11 May 1964 from Minister of Foreign Affairs L. Mpakaniye to his colleague Minister of the Interior B. Bicamupaka, in defense of these agents against their own government. Annex No. 3, quoted in Mugesera, Les conditions de vie, p. 326. See also Filip Reyntjens, Pouvoir et droit au Rwanda, droit public et évolution politique 1916–1973 (Tervuren : Musée Royal de l’Afrique Centrale, 1985), p. 463. 50. Lemarchand, Rwanda and Burundi, p. 224. 51. Reyntjens, Pouvoir et droit au Rwanda, p. 463. 52. Luc de Heusch, “Anthropologie d’un génocide: le Rwanda,” Les Temps modernes 579 (December 1994): 9–12. 53. Evaris Ngayimpenda, Histoire du conflit politico-ethnique burundais: Les premières marches du calvaire, 1960–1973 (Bujumbura: Éditions de la Renaissance, n.d.), pp. 171–172. 54. Mugesera, Les conditions de vie, p. 143. 55. Reyntjens, Pouvoir et droit au Rwanda, p. 459; Mugesera, Les conditions de vie, p. 162. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. 56. Not many more than 20 loaded guns, it seemed. Pierre Tabara, Afrique: La face cachée (Paris: Éditions La pensée universelle, 1992), p. 365. 57. Mugesera, Les conditions de vie, p. 168. 58. Ibid., p. 131. 59. Reyntjens, Pouvoir et droit au Rwanda, p. 459. 60. In 1963, the Organization of African Unity called for recognition of Rwanda. Refugee Policy Group, “Older Refugee Settlements in Africa, Final Report” (Washington, DC: Refugee Policy Group, November 1985), p. 113. 61. The history of the inyenzi armed resistance seems to have inspired the first Rwandan refugees, who early on joined Museveni’s liberation guerrillas. J. R., interview with author, 15 June 2015, Kigali. 62. Nathalie H. Goetz, “Towards Self-Sufficiency and Integration: An Historical Evaluation of Assistance Programmes for Rwandese Refugees in Burundi, 1962– 1965,” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, New Issues in Refugee Research, Working Paper no. 87, March 2003, p. 3. 63. Ngayimpenda, Histoire du conflit politico-ethnique burundais, pp. 163–176. 64. Jean-Pierre Chrétien, Burundi, l’histoire retrouvée: 25 ans de métier d’historien en Afrique (Paris: Karthala, 1993), p. 452. 65. Refugee Policy Group, “Older Refugee Settlements in Africa,” pp. 81–82.


The Antecedents

66. In response to the accusation made against Rwandan refugees, the Organisation sociale des réfugiés rwandais explained in a letter to Mwami Mwambutsa in Burundi that Muyenzi was not a refugee and “was more Americanized than a refugee” because he had worked at the US embassy for three years. Ngayimpenda, Histoire du conflit politico-ethnique burundais, p. 216. 67. Ibid., p. 207. 68. Mugesera, Les conditions de vie, p. 155. 69. Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 1970–1977. 70. Entry to secondary school was also limited for Burundians themselves, owing to a lack of available locations. 71. Sadruddin Aga Khan, “Report of the Visit to Rwandan Refugee Camps in the Congo, Tanganyika, Uganda, Burundi, and Rwanda,” Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Annex II, 1963. 72. Goetz, “Towards Self-Sufficiency and Integration,” p. 14. 73. Christian Thibon, “Les événements de novembre–décembre 1991 au Burundi,” Politique africaine 45 (1992): 154–159. 74. D. P., interview with author, 18 June 2015, Kigali. 75. Republic of Burundi, Communiqué No. 3, 29 October 1993. 76. Ligue Iteka to the prime minister of Burundi, letter, 30 October 1993. 77. Mugesera, Les conditions de vie, p. 164. 78. Ibid., p. 153. 79. Aloys Tegera, “Les Banyarwanda au Nord-Kivu (RDC) au XXème siècle: Analyse historique et socio-politique d’un groupe transfrontalier (1885–2006),” thèse de doctorat en histoire, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, juin 2009. 80. Refugee Policy Group, “Older Refugee Settlements in Africa.” 81. François Preziosi, “Situation in North Kivu,” memo, 21 October 1963, quoted in United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), The State of the World’s Refugees 2000: Fifty Years of Humanitarian Action (Geneva: UNHCR, January 2000), p. 50. 82. Refugee Policy Group, “Older Refugee Settlements in Africa.” 83. Aga Khan, “Report of the Visit to Rwandan Refugee Camps.” 84. In 1967, Kalonge camp was attacked by rebel European mercenaries led by Jean Schramme. The refugees scattered, and only 700 later returned to the camp. Refugee Policy Group, “Older Refugee Settlements in Africa.” 85. Mugesera, Les conditions de vie, p. 103. 86. Refugee Policy Group, “Older Refugee Settlements in Africa.” 87. Tegera, “Les Banyarwanda au Nord-Kivu.” 88. Ibid. 89. Ibid. 90. Ibid. 91. According to Silis Rwigamba’s autobiography, the first two civil engineers who graduated from Lovanium in 1961 were Rwandans, including the well-known businessman Mico. In 1964, the only graduate in chemistry was a Rwandan, and among the five who graduated the following year, four were Rwandan. Again in 1964, of the ten graduates in economics, four were Rwandan refugees. Silis Rwigamba Mu Binani, Mémoires de la région des Grands Lacs (n.p., 1998), p. 36. 92. E. M., interview with author, 12 May 2015, Kigali. 93. Presidential Order No. 71-020, 26 March 1971, on the acquisition of Congolese nationality by persons originally from Rwanda-Urundi living in the Congo as of 30 June 1960. 94. Rwigamba, Mémoires de la région des Grands Lacs, p. 49.

The Roots of Change


95. Boniface Hakiza Rukatsi, L’intégration des immigrés au Zaïre: Le cas des personnes originaires du Rwanda (Kinshasa: Éditions État and Société, 2004), p. 152. 96. Republic of Zaire, Legislative Council, “Compte rendu analytique,” 19 June 1978, p. 23, quoted in ibid., p. 153. 97. President Mobutu, speech to the Popular Movement for the Revolution Central Committee, 26 March 1981. 98. Law No. 81-002, 29 June 1981. 99. Tegera, “Les Banyarwanda au Nord-Kivu.” 100. Rwigamba, Mémoires de la région des Grands Lacs, p. 49. 101. E. M. interview, 12 May 2015. 102. Rwigamba, Mémoires de la région des Grands Lacs, p. 62. 103. Refugee Policy Group, “Older Refugee Settlements in Africa.” 104. Charles Gasarasi, “The Life of a Refugee Settlement: The Case of Muyenzi in Ngara District, Tanzania,” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Research Paper, Dar es Salaam, 1976. 105. Yeld, “Implications of Experience with Refugees Settlement.” 106. Ibid. 107. Refugee Policy Group, “Older Refugee Settlements in Africa,” p. 118. 108. Gasarasi, “The Life of a Refugee Settlement.” 109. Patricia Daley, “Refugees and Underdevelopment in Africa: The Case of Burundi Refugees in Tanzania,” PhD diss., Oxford University, 1989, p. 178. 110. Refugee Policy Group, “Older Refugee Settlements in Africa.” 111. Daley, “Refugees and Underdevelopment in Africa,” p. 180. 112. Charles Gasarasi, “The Mass Naturalization and Further Integration of Rwandese Refugees in Tanzania: Process, Problems, and Prospects,” Journal of Refugee Studies 3, no. 2 (1990). 113. Otto Hagenbuchle, “Kagera Region/Tanzania, 25 February–24 May 1985: Naturalization of Refugees,” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Consultancy Mission Report, in Stein and Clark, “Refugee Integration and Older Refugee Settlements in Africa.” 114. Daley, “Refugees and Underdevelopment in Africa,” p. 181. 115. During the 2013 wave of deportation of refugees of Rwandan origin without either Tanzanian citizenship or valid immigration documents, some deportees explained that they had not requested citizenship because the local authorities had told them that a birth certificate was sufficient to prove their Tanzanian nationality. BBC News, “Why Tanzania Deported Thousands to Rwanda,” 2 September 2013. 116. Human Rights Watch, “Letter to President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete of Tanzania,” 8 May 2007. 117. La Ligue des Droits de la Personne dans la région des Grands Lacs, “Près de Deux Cent Rwandais Expulsés Forcément par la Tanzanie,” 19 May 2006. 118. Human Rights Watch, “Letter to President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete.” 119. Jo Helle-Valle, “Banyaruanda in Uganda: Ethnic Identity, Refugee Status, and Social Stigma,” PhD diss., University of Oslo, 1989, p. 80. 120. Rwandans referred to them informally as Nyakivara and Nshungerezi. 121. Philip Gourevitch and Paul Kagame, “After Genocide,” Transition 72 (1996): 171. 122. Jude Murison, “Resilience in Exile: Rwandan Refugees in Uganda, 1959– 1994,” NORRAS News 53 (May 2016): 110. 123. Elijah Dickens Mushemeza, The Politics and Empowerment of Banyarwanda Refugees in Uganda, 1959–2001 (Kampala: Fountain Publishers, 2007), p. 69. 124. G. M., interview with author, 22 June 2015, Kigali. 125. Following President Habyarimana’s coup d’état and talk of reconciliation beginning, President Idi Amin Dada asked the Rwandan government to find a


The Antecedents

definitive solution to the issue of Rwandan refugees living in Uganda. In July 1974, Amin put the Rwandan government in contact with representatives of the refugees, who prepared a plan for gradual repatriation of the parties involved, but the Rwandan government withdrew. Jean-Paul Kimonyo, Rwanda’s Popular Genocide (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2016), pp. 47–50. 126. There were only 7 Banyarwanda and no refugees on the Obote government’s official list of 240 wanted persons among the agents and collaborators of the Amin regime. Minority Rights Group, “Uganda and Sudan,” Report No. 66. 127. Uganda Times, 11 January 1982, quoted in Elijah Dickens Mushemeza, The Politics and Empowerment of Banyarwanda Refugees in Uganda, 1959–2001 (Kampala: Fountain Publishers, 2007), p. 93. 128. Ibid. 129. Mamdani, When Victims Become Killers, p. 169. 130. Catherine Watson, Exile from Rwanda: Background to an Invasion, US Committee for Refugees, Issue Paper, February 1991, p. 10; Gérard Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide (London: Hurst, 1995), pp. 69–70. 131. Le Monde, 23 December 1982. 132. Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis, p. 70. 133. Helle-Valle, “Bunyaruanda in Uganda,” p. 106. 134. D. R., interview with author, 23 June 2016, Kigali; E. N., interview with author, 23 June 2016, Kigali. 135. Mamdani, When Victims Become Killers, p. 174. 136. Geoffrey Byegeka, interview in Rwanda Dispatch 11 (September 2009). 137. Mamdani, When Victims Become Killers, pp. 173–174. 138. Ibid., pp. 176–182. 139. Ibid., p. 182. 140. See Prunier, “Éléments pour une histoire du Front patriotique rwandais”; Mamdani, When Victims Become Killers; Guichaoua, From War to Genocide; Kuperman “Provoking Genocide.” 141. Rutayisire, Rutazibwa, and Gatera, Rwanda, p. 114. 142. Helle-Valle, “Banyaruanda in Uganda.” 143. Ibid., pp. 124–126. 144. Ibid., p. 125. 145. “To my surprise, most of them had detailed knowledge about Rwanda. They could tell me how this and that area was, how the land situation was, and whether they still had relatives there. When asked, they told me that they had first or secondhand information about it. There was always someone in their social network who had visited Rwanda. Gradually I obtained several confirmations on this, including one senior settlement commander (the highest official in the settlements). He told me that when refugees came to him for a leave permit (which they formally had to obtain before leaving the settlement) to go to Mbarara or Kampala, many of them instead visited Rwanda.” Ibid. 146. Ibid., pp. 125–126. 147. Stein and Clark, “Refugee Integration and Older Refugee Settlements in Africa.”

3 The End of the Revolutionary Regime

In Rwanda, the revolutionary Hutu regime, which took control of the country at independence, was unsuccessful in providing the country a stable basis for cohabitation. The sectarian violence against the Tutsis surrounding the creation of the new state was, from the very beginning, one of its founding ideological principles, but very early on new political and social criteria of exclusion started to appear, regional this time, involving various factions of the new elites. Ultimately, in the middle of the 1980s, under the successor regime of President Habyarimana, the country slid into steep political, economic, and social decline. Diffuse social violence had appeared again, but this time without ethnic connotations, before descending into genocide. Thirty years after the revolution, the country was facing an impasse. The Political and Military Crisis of 1990–1994 At the end of the Cold War, a breath of democratization was advancing through Africa. The Habyarimana regime’s traditional ally, France, exerted pressure on the president to begin a process of political liberalization. There was discontent among the Hutus from the south and the center of the country and a deep, but up until then unfocused, willingness to change. It was not long before that broke out with surprising force. On 1 September 1990, one month before the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) entered Rwanda, thirty-three intellectuals published an open letter demanding the instauration of political pluralism. Without waiting for an answer, political parties were semi-clandestinely formed during the first half of 1991, before the government made political pluralism official in June 1991. Next, large demonstrations were held by the opposition in Butare and Kigali, demanding participation in the government. Shaken, 55


The Antecedents

President Habyarimana named a prime minister in April 1992 who was from the reformed Republican Democratic Movement (MDR)―successor to Kayibanda’s MDR-Parmehutu—to form a new government, including the main internal opposition parties. Between 1991 and 1993, a three-way game developed among the RPF, which finally showed its military strength; the internal political opposition, which was supported by widespread popularity; and the National Revolutionary Movement for Development (MRND), the former party-state, but by then on the defensive. The RPF and the internal opposition concluded a tacit alliance and then combined military pressure on outlying regions with large demonstrations in the provinces and the capital, Kigali. This forced the regime first to open the government to the opposition and then to hold peace talks with the RPF. The Arusha Peace Accords, signed in August 1993, called for the establishment of a government of transition and tripartite power sharing among the MRND, the RPF, and an internal political opposition dominated by the MDR. It also provided for the integration of RPF troops into the national army. The Arusha Accords stripped President Habyarimana of most of his power, while the MRND lost its political preeminence and, up to a certain point, its military dominance. Seeing the orientation of the peace negotiations, President Habyarimana used all possible means to divide the opposition and transform the political nature of the crisis into an ethnic problem in order to create a “sacred union” of Hutus against the RPF. He used propaganda of hatred, promoted the massacre of Tutsis, created a militia to intimidate opponents, and sought to divide the opposition parties. In January 1993, the regime promoted new massacres during which hundreds of Tutsis were killed. Given the scale of the massacres, the RPF broke the ceasefire, breaking through the Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR) defenses to within almost 50 kilometers of Kigali on 8 February 1993. Diplomatic pressure and political calculation made the RPF retreat, but the “February War” marked a turning point in the conflict. It led to political readjustments that offered President Habyarimana a new margin of maneuver to bring him out of his political isolation. The RPF’s demonstration of force contributed to the split in the opposition, one faction of which followed its ethnic radicalism and moved closer to the MRND, considering the conflict above all an ethnic problem and the RPF as the enemy. The MDR, which was to become the epicenter of the struggle to create a Hutu united front, split in two. One faction―by far the majority―claimed the ideological heritage of President Kayibanda and the MDR-Parmehutu of the 1960s. The other, a minority, remained on the road to democratic change and national reconciliation. The faction of the MDR that was faithful to the Kayibanda heritage formed the nucleus of the Hutu-power coalition. This

The End of the Revolutionary Regime


included the MRND, but also extremist factions of almost all the groups of the former democratic opposition. These factions added “power” to their title, becoming MDR-power, Liberal Party (PL)–power, and so forth. After a great deal of shilly-shallying punctuated by massacres of Tutsis, President Habyarimana was at the point of giving in to external pressure and ratifying and implementing the Arusha Peace Accords as he had just promised his peers at a regional meeting in Dar es Salaam. But that same evening, 6 April 1994, on the way back, his plane was shot down by surface-to-air missiles. The ballistics experts’ report released by French judges Marc Trévidic and Nathalie Poux indicates that the missiles were most probably fired from the presidential guard camp adjacent to President Habyarimana’s residence.1 These findings plus other certain circumstantial evidence support the hypothesis that MRND political and military elites had decided to sabotage the peace process and set off the resulting events by killing their own president. It was the beginning of the genocide and the resumption of the war against the RPF. Widespread Poverty and Social Violence in the Late 1980s Among the major structural factors that contributed to the triggering of violence in the country’s recent history, there are obvious economic and social issues. Given the seriousness of the crises that Rwanda went through after the second half of the 1980s, some analysts do not hesitate to postulate that these conditions were the main cause of the genocide. Most serious analysts reject this strict Malthusian interpretation of underlying factors.2 The prevailing economic conjuncture does not explain the action of the elite government leaders who set off the genocide. Nonetheless, the depth of the crisis and the severity of its effects contributed considerably to massive popular participation in the crime.3 This crisis was, in fact, made up of two interconnected crises. The first crisis was a result of overpopulation, lack of land, and exhaustion of soil fertility under subsistence farming at that time. The second crisis was a more classical economic crisis, resulting from a drop in government revenue and a poorly conceived structural adjustment policy. A Very Brutal Economic Crisis From 1974 to 1981, Rwanda’s economy grew at a rate of 5.4 percent per year.4 That was possible because of good climatic conditions, improved terms of exchange for Rwanda’s main export crops, and a large increase in international aid.


The Antecedents

This relatively prosperous period of the Rwandan economy continued until 1986. Those fairly prosperous times were put to good use to create a modest, but mostly efficient government administration. The administration made a considerable effort to create infrastructure where earlier it was lacking. Rwanda also followed a prudent macroeconomic policy at that time. The many development projects spread around the country made individual contributions but were unable to set in motion a larger dynamic of development. That gave the country a reputation as a development model, but it ignored the stagnation and existing general underdevelopment.5 Beginning in 1984, external factors that had been the main vectors of growth during this period became negative factors. Aid continued to be important but began to shrink. The prices for coffee, tea, and tin, Rwanda’s three main export products, collapsed between 1984 and 1989. In 1989, a 50 percent drop in coffee prices caused income from coffee exports to fall from $144 million to $33 million, leading to a brutal cut in the country’s income. In addition to all of that, years of drought and the spread of plant diseases had an impact.6 These adverse factors resulted in a steady decline in economic growth in a context of very strong demographic pressure (Table 3.1). In 1990, Rwanda was placed under structural adjustment at the insistence of and with the aid of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which promised $216 million of additional aid, but that aid was never disbursed. Rwanda had been unable to meet the requirement to discontinue the guaranteed price paid to coffee producers and limit the budget deficit to 5 percent as had been agreed. Despite strong internal opposition, the currency was devalued by 40 percent in November 1990, then again by 15 percent in June 1992, leading to a sharp increase in consumer prices. Expenditures on government programs were cut and salaries and hiring frozen. The top 10 percent of incomes corresponded to 25 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 1985, but to 41 percent of the country’s GDP in 1992. In 1993, 86 percent of the population was living below the poverty threshold, the highest percentage of poverty in the world.7

Table 3.1 Percentage of GDP Growth per Inhabitant, 1980–1990 Year

Adjusted rate of change

1980 5.2

1981 1.9



1983 2.5



1985 0.3

1986 0.7

Source: World Bank, World Development Indicators, 2017.



1988 0.0





The End of the Revolutionary Regime


Collapse of Subsistence Farmers’ Living Standards The main cause of this collapse was extremely rapid demographic growth. In the forty years between 1950 and 1990, the country’s population almost doubled. Given the limited amount of available land, this led to an extremely dense concentration of population. Toward the mid-1980s, it was possible to find densities of more than five hundred people per square kilometer in rural areas.8 Tight concentration of land ownership in the hands of elites also decreased the land available for the majority.9 The limits on space available also reduced animal husbandry, leaving less organic manure available and decreasing fallow land.10 Under the effect of depleted soil fertility, harvests of more nutritive legumes and cereal crops also decreased constantly. They were replaced by root crops, the growing of which expanded considerably toward the end of the 1980s.11 Thus, despite a slight increase in amounts produced per head, there was a decrease in the overall nutritional value, and malnutrition increased dramatically. To these negative structural conditions were added a series of climatic events and crop diseases that led to widespread crop failure, a famine, and permanent malnutrition during the second half of the 1980s. In 1989, a severe shortage of food struck the southwest and center plus famine in Gikongoro prefecture and several communes in Butare prefecture.12 In 1990, only one prefecture out of ten (that of Kibungo) was spared from severe hunger. The famine reportedly killed more than 1,000 persons and likely forced almost 34,000 persons to emigrate to other regions or neighboring countries.13 For a certain number of vital social indicators, at the end of the 1980s—and before the civil war of 1990—Rwanda found itself at the level of a “failed state,” with the lowest life expectancy level in the world (see Table 3.2 and Figure 3.1). This shows an especially alarming level of nutrition for the period 1984‒1988. With a daily intake of 1,830 calories per person, the average Rwandan was well below the minimum international norm of 2,100 calories. Furthermore, that is an average that masked great regional disparities. For example, for 1989, while some communes located primarily in eastern Rwanda reached 2,086 calories, others, such as in Gikongoro prefecture— epicenter of all the violence since 1963—reached only 657 calories.14 A study on the relationship between ethnic violence and nutritional level shows that no commune whose intake of calories was greater than 1,500 calories per person per day was the scene of massacres of Tutsis in 1991 and 1992 that preceded the genocide.15 The return of cycles of crop failure and famines 50 years after their disappearance, a drop into extreme poverty, and social inequality confirmed

60 Table 3.2 Global Ranking from the Bottom for Selected Social Indicators

Annual Rural Population % % Rank Population Population Population with Access Calories/ % Required Children in from Growth Rate % in Rural % in Poverty to Health Capita/Day Calories Secondary Bottom (1960–1988) Areas (1988) (1977–1987) (1985–1987) (1984–1986) (1984–1986) School 1



4 5

Cote d’Ivoire (4.1) Kenya (3.7) Uganda (3.5) Rwanda (3.3)

Bhutan (95)

Burundi (93) Rwanda (93)

Central African Republic (91) Rwanda (90)

Mali (15)

Benin (18) Zaire (26) Somalia (27) Rwanda (27)

Mozambique Mozambique Malawi (1,600) (69) (5) Chad (1,720) Ethiopia (1,750) Guinea (1,780) Rwanda (1,830)

Chad Burundi (69) (6) Ethiopia Mozambique (71) (7) Guinea Bhutan (77) (7) Rwanda Rwanda (81) (7)

Source: United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report, 1990.

Figure 3.1 Life Expectancy at Birth, 1980–2012

Source: World Bank, World Development Indicators, 2017.


The End of the Revolutionary Regime


the failure of the postcolonial development model in Rwanda. This model of rural development, for which the main objective was improvement of subsistence agriculture, was supposed to reflect the values of modesty of the Hutu peasantry.16 The World Bank commented that this model had led those that it sought to help into an impasse. Rwanda is obviously at a crossroads, in that the old strategy is no longer viable: the vision of a nation of self-sufficient peasants, meeting through their labor alone their needs for food and shelter, leading tranquil and meaningful lives centered around the local community, unbeholden to the outside world, that vision is no longer sustainable.17

Official resistance to birth control policies, restrictions on secondary and university education, and repression of rural exodus reflected rural conservatism not propitious to diversification of the economy. Ideology strongly influenced this development model, which dumbed down the population and spread poverty on the basis of ethnic and regional redress rather than the creation of shared wealth. However, there was also a small modern economic sector with a relatively dynamic industry of substitution dominated by foreign investors. The elites in power came out almost unscathed through different mechanisms of resource capture and had literally made nepotism a method of government. The country was dominated by other shortcomings, especially concerning women’s rights. Women needed, for example, their husband’s authorization in order to register a business, buy land, or litigate in court. They could open a bank account but could not withdraw money without the consent of their husbands.18 The depth of the social crisis, the seriousness of endemic hunger, the violence and despair described in eyewitness accounts, and the reports of the local administration at that time are reflected in the curve of life expectancy (Figure 3.1). In 1960, life expectancy in Rwanda was 42.2 years. It rose, reaching a high of 51.1 years in 1984 before dropping to 34.2 years in 1990. It was the shortest recorded life expectancy in the world since 1968 (except for Sierra Leone and Mali), shorter than for any other country at war or for a failed state (for which data exist). The survival capacities of the population completely imploded. This social collapse occurred before the war begun by the RPF in October 1990. An Increase in Violence and Rural Restlessness The second half of the 1980s also saw an impressive rise in murderous violence. The social chronicle that is reflected in reports of the local administration shows a strong simultaneous increase of poverty and violence beginning in 1984. It also documents the resurgence of defiance of the authorities. These reports are a litany of murders by family members or


The Antecedents

bandits, of violent extortion of harvests, attacks on property (especially during periods of crop failure), and acts of subversion of law and order.19 In June 1986, the newly created Interministerial Committee for Coordination (CIC) acknowledged “an explosion of often gratuitous, ostentatious and spectacular criminality.” People are killed in cold blood, and there is no fear of confessing one’s crimes. Theft is committed in public in full view of everyone. There are collective murders of recent days and other isolated murders as well as planned assassinations, such as the murder of the bourgmestre of the commune of Rusumo on 6 February 1983. They are an illustration of the transformation of certain individuals into true human beasts. The crimes recorded are not the monopoly of any single region. The contagion is general. It affects all prefectures and corrupts both rural areas and urban centers.20

Deep social anxiety discouraged rural youth, for whom all options seemed to be closed. The fragmentation of land had made many family plots unprofitable because of the adverse conditions. Approximately 56 percent of plots were less than one hectare. At the same time, rural exodus to cities was strictly restricted by the government. The option of emigration was also curtailed, and during the second half of the 1980s, Tanzania and Burundi expelled tens of thousands of Rwandan economic migrants. Various studies show a very sharp rise in deadly nonethnic social violence.21 A Red Cross document mentions the feeling of imminent catastrophe prevalent at that time: “Food production was slowing as dramatically as the population was increasing. . . . In the late 1980s, Rwanda’s foreign residents were speculating on a catastrophe before the end of the century. Would it be famine, which struck the Rwandan southwest in 1989, or AIDS, with a 33 percent infection rate in urban areas in 1990? Bloody conflict arrived first.”22 Widespread desperation at the end of the 1980s plus a predatory political culture made it easy to mobilize a large part of the Rwandan peasantry to commit violence if it could expect some reward. Whether at the time of the 1959 campaign of ethnic cleansing, during massacres in Gikongoro in 1963‒1964, or during the 1994 genocide, the desire to acquire land and goods was powerful motivation for popular participation in violence. During the 1963 massacres in Gikongoro, local Parmehutu officials took advantage of the desire to acquire land to incite locals to kill. “Fully aware that a widespread elimination of Tutsis would make their land available to the Hutus, they saw distinctive political advantages in encouraging the liquidation of local Tutsis.”23 Alison Des Forges expanded this idea, describing violence for purposes of pillage and appropriation of Tutsis’ land as a basic element of Rwandan state policy in the 1960s: At this time, Hutu politicians also established the link between patriotism and profit. In attacking the supposed enemies of the nation and the revo-

The End of the Revolutionary Regime


lution, the Hutus stood to gain, both in the short term from goods pillaged and in the long term from lands appropriated from Tutsis who were driven away. Given the political and material gains from anti-Tutsi violence, officials and others had strong incentives to widen the circle of people targeted from the narrow group of former power-holders to all Tutsis. By 1967 when both the incursions and the attacks on Tutsis within Rwanda ended, Tutsis were at risk of attack for the simple fact of being Tutsi.24

In 1994, backed by the historic precedent of 1959 and with appropriation of land as a reason, participation in the genocide was very strong among many young men whose future was limited. “All these people who were about to be killed had land and at times cows. And somebody had to get these lands and those cows after their owners were dead. In a poor and increasingly overpopulated country, this was not a negligible incentive.”25 One of the more important motivations was pillage and, sometimes trivial but just as decisive, the overwhelming desire to eat meat in a context of a serious lack of proteins.26 The precedent of the 1959 revolution seems to have ingrained a habit of violence in local and government political culture, fostering a repetition of predatory violence aimed at the Tutsis.27 Political Liberalization That Ended in Violence

Tensions underlying the sharing of resources affecting Rwandan society were hardly propitious to partisan political party competition. Before 1994, the country had experienced two episodes of political pluralism (1957– 1963 and 1991–1994); both had ended in mass violence. A Violent Democratization

The second pluralist period began in June 1991 with adoption of the law governing political parties, which put an end to the MRND monopoly. It ended in April 1994 in the genocide. Beyond the sectarian radicalization of the political class presented above, parties’ methods of action also have had a strongly destabilizing impact on the populations. A distinction should be made between the extremist parties and parties of the so-called democratic political opposition, at least up until 24 July 1993, when the MDR officially split. The youth movements of the extremist parties, in particular the presidential MRND party and the Coalition for the Defense of the Republic (CDR)―a party that was openly racist and ultraviolent―had quickly become militias characterized by extremely violent behavior. The militias of these two parties formed the spearhead of the genocide of Tutsis in various localities in the country. Despite their ideological differences, the methods of the “democratic” opposition parties did not differ greatly from those of the extremist parties,


The Antecedents

with the exception, and it is significant, of the intentionally murderous violence. This similarity existed even before the breakup of the MDR and the formation of the Hutu-power coalition. The political parties called intensively for the participation of the population through many meetings held in the cities, communes, and even in the administrative sectors. These activities were organized in a spirit of fierce competition. Local populations responded positively to the parties’ appeals. People enrolled in large numbers, participated in meetings, and formed troupes of dancers and singers, similar to former MRND entertainment groups. In this very poor society, the political parties distributed caps with their colors, scarves, and even T-shirts. Very quickly, the ground of activism was taken over by political party youth movements with colorful names. Between August 1991 and July 1992, MDR initiated the kubohoza (“to liberate”) campaign to liberate by force the regions of the country that it wanted to dominate. It was then a question of “liberating” the parts of the country where the MRND, perceived as the defender of the interests of the northerners then in power, was weak. The center and most of the south and the west were the main targets. Kigali remained a battlefield shared between the two camps. MDR’s political conquest was powered in large part by using physical intimidation and violence. The party was assured rapid political control over approximately two-thirds of the country. This violence for political ends was accompanied by pillaging and depredations. MDR did not hesitate to associate with bandits and other criminals to crack down. The violence of the political parties of the “democratic” opposition was even the cause of the radicalization of the MRND youth movement, the infamous Interahamwe, who were the spearheads in carrying out the genocide. The parties organized youth wings, which increasingly engaged in violence against rivals. The MDR youth wing, the Inkuba, or “Thunder,” led in harassing MRND supporters, sometimes with the help of Abakombozi, “The Liberators,” of the PSD. Confronted with this opposition, the MRND moved to a new level of intimidation by transforming its youth group, the Interahamwe, into a real militia.28

The MDR violence initially focused on expelling the bourgmestres and communal council members who refused to “leave” the MRND. They were sometimes even chased with spears, and their houses were burned down. In many localities, the population took advantage of the disorder and civic disobedience produced by the political confrontation. By using the MDR banner, they occupied communal land or land that had been given to cooperatives of producers. These depredations heralded the dynamics that continued during the genocide. Some saw these attacks as incarnating the heritage of the historic MDR-Parmehutu.29 The other outbreaks of violence came during the search for members, especially at party rallies held even in the most distant parts of the rural areas.

The End of the Revolutionary Regime


During these rallies, local groups were given the task of warming up the audiences in order to provide maximum visibility. Activities began the night before with groups of partisans who sang, danced, and beat drums, often until late at night. Frequently forced recruitment of these groups, the checking of party cards, and a war of banners led to great excesses, creating chaotic situations. Episodes of confrontation at the national level between the “democratic” opposition and the extremist movement produced outbreaks of violence. This occurred primarily in Kigali, where all political tendencies were represented in large numbers. In the poorer areas of the town, party youth movements often lived in violent cohabitation, especially after the formation of the coalition government of Dismas Nsengiyaremye, an MDR leader, in April 1992, while the party sought to build a territorial base through kubohoza campaigns. On 28 May 1992, the Interahamwe organized a march against the youth movements of the other parties while in another district the Social Democratic Party (PSD) was holding a meeting. Street fighting that day left more than forty seriously wounded.30 On 4 August 1992, the CDR organized a demonstration in Kacyiru, the administrative district of Kigali, demanding the release of its imprisoned members. In fighting with the police, two members of the CDR and a police officer were killed.31 On 19 November 1992, the MDR, PSD, PL, and Christian Democratic Party (PDC) organized a large, very aggressive demonstration in support of the government and the Arusha Accords. During those demonstrations in Kigali, members of the various camps beat up their rivals, seriously wounding more than 80 people and damaging 80 houses and 28 automobiles. The Social Democratic Youths, the Abakombozi of the PSD, participated in the violence just like the MDR, MRND, and CDR youth. This violence gave rise to the pillage of shops, extortion in bars, and purse snatching in the street.32 The members of youth movements could also be “politically” versatile and change affiliation in light of offers of remuneration and opportunities for pillaging. On 9 January 1993, a draft agreement on power sharing in an enlarged future government was signed at Arusha. The next day, the MRND and CDR parties began to violently demonstrate in various regions of the country, terrorizing members of the opposition. On the evening of 19 January 1993, Prime Minister Nsengiyaremye appealed to supporters of the opposition in a national radio broadcast to “defend itself.” Demonstrations and counterdemonstrations took place. And, in light of the pugnacity of the opposition throughout a large part of the country, the presidential movement organized massacres of Tutsis in its center of power in southern Gisenyi prefecture. Thus, some 400 Tutsis were killed and 20,000 persons were displaced, including members of the local opposition. However, elsewhere in the country, it was the opposition forces who often held the upper hand in confrontations. The altercations often degenerated into street fighting that killed and wounded many as well as causing considerable material damage.33


The Antecedents

The political dynamics changed with the breakup of the MDR in July 1993, when a majority of this party decided to join the coalition of extremists and take up the original name of President Kayibanda’s party, the MDR-Parmehutu. On 23 October 1993, the MDR-Parmehutu―which would later take the name of MDR-power—along with the MRND and the CDR organized a large rally in the Nyamirambo Regional Stadium. That gathering was, in a way, the birth and confirmation of the Hutu-power coalition. Just as later was to be the case during the genocide, in the demonstrations that were to follow, extremist groups attacked only Tutsis for the first time. Their shops were looted, and there were numerous cases of rape.34 The worst violence that Kigali had known at that time took place on 23 and 24 February 1994. That was the day after the lynching in Butare of the president of the CDR by supporters of the PSD, who sought to avenge their leader, Félicien Gatabazi, murdered the night before in Kigali. This violence focused on Tutsis and resulted in 35 killed and 150 wounded in the streets of Kigali and many cases of rape.35 In April 1994, after the death of President Habyarimana on 6 April 1994, elite units of the Rwandan army gave priority to executing leaders of the opposition, the moderate MDR, the PSD, and the PL, who had refused to join the Hutu-power coalition. The prime minister at that time, Agathe Uwilingiyimana, was also murdered, in a prelude to the genocide that was to follow. After five days of “political clarification” during which all active Hutu dissidence was eliminated, an order was sent out. The public and activists were informed that the killing should no longer focus on Hutu members of the opposition but should now be exclusively aimed against Tutsis. An “interim government” was established. It gathered the leaders of extremist parties and the leaders of factions of the former democratic opposition, which had joined the Hutu-power coalition. This government supervised the genocide throughout the country.36 At the regional and local levels, the same type of political coalition organized local populations for the killing. This local structure included the administrative authorities and the heads of the political parties who used their networks, established during the period of democratization, for organizing the carrying out of the massacres. The party leaders, as opposed to government officials, played a major role in the mobilization of local populations to carry out the genocide. Political leaders at every level championed the genocide, launching themselves into the killings campaign as a way to increase their own importance and to displace rivals. They were uninhibited by any of the formal responsibilities that sometimes constrained administrators and led them to disguise their intentions in indirect language. Invited by authorities to participate fully in official meetings from the national to local level, they took the floor to demand ruthless actions against Tutsis and those who helped them.

The End of the Revolutionary Regime


Politicians used their personal authority and channels of communication within their parties to direct attacks on Tutsis.37

Political competition exacerbated by large-scale mobilization by the political parties in a context of the total absence of a democratic political culture led to widespread violence between 1959 and 1963 and was a major contributor to the genocide in 1994. Whether in 1959, 1960, 1961, 1963, or in 1994, the political leaders of those days mobilized the masses because they expected violence to break out relatively easily, which would undo their competitors. Notes 1. Cour d’Appel de Paris, Tribunal de grande instance de Paris, “Destruction en vol du Falcon 50 Kigali (Rwanda),” Rapport d’expertise, avril 2010; Maria Malagardis, “Les dix-huit ans d’intoxication d’une enquête en sens unique,” Libération, 12 January 2012. 2. Peter Uvin, “Reading the Rwandan Genocide,” International Studies Review 3, no. 3 (Autumn 2001): 81–83. 3. Jean-Paul Kimonyo, Rwanda’s Popular Genocide: A Perfect Storm (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2016). 4. World Bank, “Rwanda Economic Memorandum: Recent Economic and Sectoral Development and Current Policy Issues” (Kigali: World Bank, 1983). 5. Alain Hanssen, Le désenchantement de la coopération: Enquête au pays des mille coopérants (Paris: L’Harmattan, 1989). 6. Michael Porter and Michael McCreless, “Rwanda: National Economic Transformation,” Harvard Business School, February 2011. 7. Ibid. 8. Jean-Claude Willame, “Aux sources de l’hécatombe rwandaise,” Cahiers africains 14 (1995): 121. 9. P. Dooms, “Utilisation des terres pour l’agriculture: Extensions potentielles et productivité des terres en fonction de la superficie des exploitations” (Kigali: Ministry of Agriculture, 1989). 10. Jean-François Bart, Montagnes d’Afrique, terres paysannes: Le cas du Rwanda (Bordeaux: Presses universitaires de Bordeaux, 1993), p. 215. 11. Willame, “Aux sources de l’hécatombe rwandaise,” p. 135; Stefaan Marysse, Tom de Herdt, and Elie Ndayambaje, “Rwanda: Appauvrissement et ajustement structurel,” Cahiers Africains 12 (1994): 43, 51. 12. Filip Verwimp, “Agricultural Policy, Crop Failure, and the ‘Ruriganiza’ Famine (1989) in Southern Rwanda: A Prelude to Genocide?” Discussion Paper, Economics Department, Catholic University of Leuven, June 2002; Willame, “Aux sources de l’hécatombe,” p. 133. 13. Jean-Baptiste Nkulilyingoma, “Where Does This Famine Come From and Where Is It Going?” quoted in “Kinyarwanda,” Imbaga 1 (May 1990): 8‒9. 14. James Gasana, “Remember Rwanda?” World Watch Magazine (September– October 2002): 29. 15. Ibid. The interpretation that the nutritional level influenced ethnic violence must be viewed with nuance. None of the six communes in Butare prefecture, where the average diet was only 1,056 calories a day, was involved in the massacre


The Antecedents

of Tutsis. A political and ideological climate of interethnic moderation prevailed in that prefecture at that time. 16. Filip Verwimp, “Development Ideology, the Peasantry, and Genocide: Rwanda Represented in Habyarimana’s Speeches (1973–1994),” Journal for Genocide Research 2, no. 3 (November 2000): 325–361. 17. World Bank, “Rwanda Agricultural Strategy Review,” 1991, p. 1. 18. Villia Jefremovas, “Loose Women, Virtuous Wives, and Timid Virgins: Gender and Control of Resources in Rwanda,” Canadian Journal of African Studies/Revue Canadienne des études africaines 25, no. 3 (1991): 378–395. 19. See Kimonyo, Rwanda’s Popular Genocide. 20. Republic of Rwanda, Ministry of the Interior and Communal Development, Comité interministériel de Coordination, Lettre du ministre et président du CIC au Président de la République faisant rapport des réunions du CIC, 29 August 1986. 21. Catherine André and Jean-Philippe Platteau, “Land Relations Under Unbearable Stress: Rwanda Caught in the Malthusian Trap,” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 34, no. 1 (1998): 36; Danielle de Lame, Une colline entre mille ou le calme avant la tempête: Transformations et blocages du Rwanda rural (Tervuren: Musée royal de l’Afrique centrale, 1996), p. 309; see also Kimonyo, Rwanda’s Popular Genocide. 22. John Sparrow, “Under the Volcanoes: Special Focus on the Rwandan Refugee Crisis,” World Disasters Report (1994): 6. 23. René Lemarchand, Rwanda and Burundi (New York: Praeger, 1970), p. 226. 24. Alison Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story (New York/Paris: Human Rights Watch/International Federation of Human Rights, 1999), p. 53. 25. Gérard Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide (London: Hurst, 1995), p. 142. 26. See Kimonyo, Rwanda’s Popular Genocide. According to Norbert Elias, misery, hunger, and fear can be strong driving factors behind violence. Going without meat can lead to the development of a craving for meat that in turn can drive a search for satisfaction through violence. Elias, La dynamique de l’Occident (Paris: Calmann-Lévis, 1975), p. 208. 27. For a theoretical discussion of the effects behind gratification through mass violence, see Ted Robert Gurr, Why Men Rebel (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1970), p. 218. 28. Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story. 29. See Kimonyo, Rwanda’s Popular Genocide. 30. Kigali Prefecture, “Note au Ministre de l’Intérieur de la part du préfet de Kigali portant sur les violences du 28 May 1992,” 28 May 1992. 31. Republic of Rwanda, Ministry of the Interior, “Situation de sécurité dans le pays suite au discours du Premier ministre du 28 août 1992,” n.d. 32. Republic of Rwanda, Ministry of the Interior, “La manifestation des membres des partis MDR, PSD, PL et PDC du 19 November 1992,” 25 November 1992. 33. Republic of Rwanda, Ministry of the Interior and Communal Development, “Sécurité dans les préfectures,” January 1993. 34. Republic of Rwanda, Ministry of the Interior, “Lumière sur les actes de violences qui seraient dirigés contre les Tutsi suite à la tentative de coup d’État au Burundi dans la nuit du 20 au 21 octobre 1993,” 17 November 1993. 35. Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis, p. 206. 36. Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story, p. 196. 37. Ibid., p. 267. For the Butare and Kibuye prefectures, see Kimonyo, Rwanda’s Popular Genocide.

4 The Refugees Return

From the end of the 1980s, new political forces were formed in Rwanda that changed the course of the country’s history. These forces were primarily the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and opposition political parties, among which the most important were the Republican Democratic Movement (MDR), the Social Democratic Party (PSD), and the Liberal Party (PL). These political parties, or at least some of their factions, contributed in varying degrees to the fall of the National Revolutionary Movement for Development (MRND) regime and then went on to participate in carrying out the postgenocide reconstruction process. This chapter continues the description of the history of refugees presented in Chapter 2, focusing on the most important of the new political forces, the RPF, and describing the conditions that gave rise to it as well as its political, ideological, and military developments. The historical context of the emergence of the RPF, both distant and immediate; its ideological orientations, largely driven by peculiar historic circumstances; and its military experience had a decisive influence on the way the movement dealt with the tremendous challenge that arose in the aftermath of the genocide. The Emergence of the RPF The emergence of the RPF and its powerful conquest by means of warfare occurred rather quickly. Two important exogenous factors greatly facilitated this process, namely the historical opportunity to form the core of a battlehardened army of refugees within the Ugandan army together with the internal disintegration of the Habyarimana regime. Committed groups of refugees and their leaders succeeded in taking advantage of these historic 69


The Antecedents

opportunities by mobilizing into a new political and military alliance, the RPF, which attracted the participation of members of the refugee population by offering them a hopeful project promising to find a solution to their blocked situation. The emergence of the RPF is, paradoxically, part and parcel of a historical and cultural continuity but also the result of an ideological break, owing to the rejection of the traditional Tutsi elitism, with the Rwandan monarchical past. The refugees’ strong nationalistic feelings and the ability of their young leaders to learn lessons from history have played an essential role in the emergence of the movement and the improbable return to Rwanda that followed. Cultural and Political Awakening Among Refugees After the hopes for a quick return to Rwanda were dashed, survival and integration became the priorities in refugees’ lives; public affirmation of Rwandan cultural identity was not on the agenda. In Uganda, some Rwandan refugees had tried to adopt new local cultural identities, while in larger towns such as Goma where indigenous Kinyarwanda speakers were many, young Rwandan refugees avoided speaking Kinyarwanda in public. In other large urban areas in Zaire, knowledge of Kinyarwanda among young people was fast declining. In Bujumbura, Burundi, many young refugees, although they embraced their Rwandan identity, often preferred to speak Swahili in public in order to better adapt to the multicultural and urban character of the poor neighborhoods in which they lived. They even tried to speak Kirundi, the national language of Burundi, in more formal situations. In Ngagara, a neighborhood of Bujumbura, where a community of longestablished lower-middle-class refugees lived, partially made up of former traditional notables’ families, a traditional cultural current had persisted, but its audience had for a long time been limited. The excellence of this cultural heritage was perpetuated mainly by troupes such as Athanase Sentore’s Indashyikirwa or Florida Uwera’s Iminyana, which trained young singers and dancers who themselves would later train others.1 The fact that Saint Albert Collège, owned by the refugees, was located in Ngagara played an important role in the preservation of Rwandan culture by providing a Rwandan cultural home in the urban neighborhood. At the beginning of the 1980s, a new generation took charge of the spread of traditional culture that obviously met a need among the younger refugee population. In 1981, in Brussels, the singer Cecile Kayirebwa launched her first hit album. That same year, the dance group Imitali, also from Brussels, attracted attention during an international cultural festival in Libreville. Their fame in the community increased, especially after the

The Refugees Return


young singer and dancer Muyango joined them, coming from Bujumbura. There, Uwera began to expand her audience. On another level, the newspaper Impuruza, founded in 1982 in the United States by Alexandre Kimenyi, also had an important impact on the cultural and political awakening of refugee communities throughout the world. Published in Kinyarwanda, it began as a cultural magazine dedicated to traditional Rwandan oral literature before expanding to political and social topics affecting refugees. This very eclectic journal opened up its columns to all opinions and was the only forum for debate linking all refugee communities. Groups such as elders with nostalgia for Rwandan classic culture living in refugee camps in Tanzania, young revolutionaries from the University of Burundi, or professionals living in the United States wrote articles. This journal was a big success and circulated worldwide, even in Rwanda, although under the table. A bit later, playwright Jean-Marie Vianney Kayishema organized theater plays combining dance, song, and declamations to sold-out audiences in the largest theater in Bujumbura. The plays offered a magnified interpretation of Rwanda’s monarchy and precolonial history. These productions inspired a cultural awakening movement that spread from many large cities with sizable Rwanda refugee communities around the world, from Bujumbura and Brussels but also from Bukavu, Goma, Kampala, Kinshasa, Montreal, or Nairobi, where dance troupes performed in public. This cultural revival, led primarily by women, was the work of a second generation of refugees who were born in or grew up in exile. Reaching adulthood, these young men and women, concerned by a feeling of imminent identity loss, dedicated themselves to a mission of cultural revival using elite ancient Rwandan culture as “an instrument of resistance.”2 The reappropriation of its superlative self-promotion tendencies was certainly an attempt to reaffirm a sentiment of collective selfworth.3 For a large number of young refugees, the cultural revival preceded political mobilization for their return to Rwanda. At the beginning of the 1980s, small political and social groups were created in the African Great Lakes subregion, elsewhere in Africa, and in Europe and Canada. These groups were concerned about the fate of refugees as well as the evolution of the political situation in Rwanda. The violence committed in 1982 against the Banyarwanda and Rwandan refugees in southwestern Uganda intensified political revival among the most committed Rwandan refugees. Associations and publications appeared in Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, France, Switzerland, the United States, Senegal, Belgium, Germany, Canada, and elsewhere. The most important political association was the Rwandese Alliance for National Unity (RANU), a precursor of the RPF, created in Nairobi in August 1979 by young intellectuals who had grown up in Uganda. A bit earlier that same year, the Rwandese Refugee Welfare Foundation had been created in Kampala, then became a social cover for RANU activities in Uganda. The Tubane association was also


The Antecedents

founded in Nairobi by former Rwandese National Union (UNAR) members in reaction to the challenge they felt was embodied by the creation of RANU by a younger generation. A Front pour la Liberation Nationale (FROLINA) came into existence also after the appearance of RANU, attracting a handful of young radical Marxists opposed to RANU’s nationalism. In Bujumbura, Urukatsa appeared, created by former inyenzi combatants. The Association de la Jeunesse Estudiantine Rwandaise was created at the end of 1987 in Bujumbura as well as the Groupe de Réflexion established by liberal professionals promoting integration in Burundi.4 During these years of political awakening, two major trends appeared to propose various solutions to the question of the status of perpetual refugees. One emphasized integration into the host countries; the other defended various ways of returning to Rwanda. Except in Zaire, the second option was the most prized among the small groups who expressed an opinion. A large number of intellectuals agreed on a minimalist demand of recognition of refugees by the Rwandan state and the right of return that would allow refugees to return to Rwanda if they so desired or if they were threatened where they were, without necessarily calling for a collective preordained return of the refugees. This solution was compatible with integration in the host countries and even resettlement of refugees in a third country. It also assumed that the Rwandan government, instead of fighting refugees, would contribute to the search for lasting solutions to their situation. Then, there were some radical groups and individuals who defended the option of the collective return of the refugees to Rwanda as part of the transformation of the Rwandan state. To achieve these different options, three modes of interaction with the Rwandan government were envisaged. The first approach defended the principle of direct cooperation between refugees and the Rwandan government on terms set by the Rwandan government. The second, more politically confrontational but peaceful, counted on recourse to the international community following a course of action of lobbying that would force the Rwandan government to sit down and talk with the refugees. Then there was a third position that defended the option of political confrontation that would go so far as waging war, especially after the National Resistance Army (NRA) victory in Uganda. Because of the absence of an organization bringing together refugees and the inability to get the positive involvement of the Rwandan government, these discussions remained mostly rhetorical. They appeared publicly in the journal Impuruza, often in a complaining tone. The publication of the MRND Central Committee’s position on the question of the 1986 refugees contributed to clarifying the stakes and radicalizing the refugees’ demands. Up until then, discussions were held among refugees themselves, but this declaration was the first official indirect “interaction” between them and the government in more than a decade.5 The publication of this position six

The Refugees Return


months after the taking of Kampala by the National Resistance Army, even in the communities far from the subregion that were unaware of the intentions of the Rwandan refugees in the NRA, was interpreted as a first victory and the beginning of something. The Rwandan government’s aggressive attitude toward refugees during the 1980s did not favor establishing a positive dialogue. Already in 1980, the Burundi government under pressure from Rwanda had expelled some 20 formerly high-profile inyenzi, including François Rukeba, Aloys Ngurumbe, and David Munyurangabo (who was later able to return), creating resentment among some circles of refugees.6 In 1981, Ngurumbe was kidnapped in Goma and extradited to Rwanda, where he was sentenced to life in prison in 1985.7 Other young men were also kidnapped in the same manner in Goma. A few years later, alarmed by the refugees’ growing political awareness, the regime in Kigali adopted new anti-refugee activism. In French-speaking African countries, the Rwandan embassies exerted pressure on governments to stiffen the entry conditions for Rwandan refugee students. Rwandan embassies selectively approached people with good prospects or those having already achieved professional success, offering them passports and inviting them to visit or move to Rwanda. University graduates, young professionals, businesspeople, people working for international organizations, and even former UNAR leaders in Nairobi were approached. This policy implemented the resolutions of the MRND Central Committee adopted in July 1986, which although accepting the principle of the return of refugees on an individual basis, added the condition of their being able to support themselves. These resolutions also called for the issuing of passports and laissez-passer for one-time visits. Some of those who had agreed to return under these conditions soon succeeded in carrying messages out of the country describing the bullying that was rampant and their enormous difficulty in leaving. The return to Rwanda was easier for prominent people and those who were economically independent, such as businesspeople. Information circulated quickly in the various refugee communities, creating an atmosphere of confrontation between strongly committed refugees, especially the younger ones, and the Rwandan government. These maneuvers began to bear fruit, and part of the refugee elite, often those well established in their host country, began arguing for accommodation with Kigali. Others rejected the government’s approach on the basis that it did not deal with the question of the political rehabilitation of refugees. According to these holdouts, the selective character of Kigali’s proposals did not solve the problem of the large number of refugees who needed to return to their country. In the end, the Habyarimana regime’s new policy repatriated few refugees but was becoming successful at dividing them.8 Eight months after the founding of the RPF, when its recruitment


The Antecedents

was still selective and confidential, one episode opened the eyes of the most conciliatory fringe of the Rwandan refugee diaspora. Unsuccessful Attempts at Cooperation Alexandre Kimenyi, who in his publication Impuruza had clearly expressed his rapprochement with officials in Kigali, invited the refugee communities to an international conference on Rwandan refugees to be held in Washington, DC, in August 1988. The organizers of the conference initially proposed a three-day program composed of two days of meetings with representatives of the Rwandan government followed by a day of cultural activities. This invitation deeply divided communities into those who favored cooperation and those who favored confrontation. Those who favored confrontation criticized the entire project, sometimes very passionately. They denounced the faraway place proposed for the conference, which, in their opinion, created a selection by wealth that would allow mostly groups inclined to collaborate with the government to participate. They also criticized the fact that a direct discussion with the representatives of the government was planned from the start, while the refugees had neither established representation nor a unified position. The opponents to the idea proposed that in place of that initiative, talks be devoted solely to harmonization and the political structuring of the refugee communities. The most contradictory and most impassioned positions came from youth groups in Burundi. Finally, the organizers accepted that prior discussions among representatives of the refugees would determine the content of the discussions that were to follow with the government’s representatives. The conference was held in Washington from 17 to 20 August 1988 with the support of the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. Delegations from 14 countries traveled to Washington from Europe, North America, and Africa, namely from Brazzaville, Bujumbura, Dakar, Kampala, and Nairobi. Tito Rutaremara, the RPF secretary-general, was among the delegates sent anonymously by his movement. Finally, from the government only some students showed up, and discussions with them were limited to banal generalities. When it came time to discuss the resolutions of the conference, Rutaremara discreetly advised the delegates favoring confrontation to calm their enthusiasm by explaining to them enigmatically that other more important initiatives were developing in the region and that they would be contacted in due time.9 The conference published a press release at the end of the event: An international conference was held in Washington, D.C., from 17 to 20 August 1988 to examine the problem of Rwandan refugees who have

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been living in exile for almost 30 years. The delegations from 14 countries participating in this conference decided that the only fair and acceptable solution for this problem is the definitive return of refugees to their country of origin: Rwanda. In order to achieve this goal, the conference called for: 1. solidarity and unity of all Rwandan refugees; 2. the pooling of pertinent ideas, suggestions, and proposals; 3. the rejection of any attempt of division. The conference adopted the following recommendations: to discuss with the Rwandan government the ways and means of solving this serious problem peacefully and to request the assistance of all peace- and justice-loving countries, and intergovernmental and confessional organizations in order to do so. The conference created a committee to implement the conference’s recommendations. The conference also unanimously rejected the selective issuing of Rwandan passports as well as the use of identity cards and laissez-passers as a means of division. It requested that all Rwandans avoid falling into this trap. The conference intended to examine progress on these points the following year.10

Although these conclusions were the expression of a compromise that left the door open to cooperation with the Rwandan government, in the end, the defiance that they showed toward the Rwandan government confirms that the position of those favoring confrontation had prevailed. The scuttling of that meeting by the Rwandan government, which was not attended by an appropriate delegation, had determined the outcome. Faced with the government’s refusal to participate in a dialogue, Kimenyi, the monitoring committee’s spokesperson of the Washington conference, had a change of heart, which is illustrative of that of the most conciliatory fringe of the refugees. Kimenyi had arrived in the United States in 1971 as a Fulbright fellow to study at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Because he was in the United States at the time of the 1973 events in Rwanda and being a Tutsi, he requested refugee status and later received American citizenship. In the 1980s, he taught linguistics at California State University at Sacramento (CSUS), and in 1982, he launched the publication Impuruza, which had, as we have seen, a broad audience among Rwandan refugees everywhere in the world. Gradually, his publication gave more and more space to political considerations linked to refugee issues. He then stood out by making public his contacts with Rwandan government officials. When he launched the idea of holding the Washington conference, it was public knowledge that he favored cooperation with the government in the search for a solution to the refugee problem. His prestige in the refugee community gave credibility to the conference. In the January 1989 issue of Impuruza, which followed the Washington conference, in a show of defiance he published an article urging refugees to collectively demand their Rwandan passports, explaining that this would test the government’s good intentions and reduce any possibility for manipulation.11


The Antecedents

Despite Kimenyi’s indulgence toward the government, the Rwandan government ignored him. A follow-up meeting to the Washington conference was organized in Toronto in August 1989, but this time with participants only from North America and Europe, after which the participants recognized their powerlessness.12 In an interview given just after the RPF attack on 1 October 1990, Kimenyi explained that the Rwandan government had not wanted to open talks with the refugees and had instead sought to short-circuit them by appealing to their host countries.13 In the next issue of Impuruza following that attack, Kimenyi wrote a Kinyarwanda poem praising Gisa (Fred Rwigema’s nom de guerre), the RPF military commander killed on the second day of the invasion.14 After that, Kimenyi joined the RPF before leaving it a few years later. In 1989 and 1990, the Rwandan government received pressure from current refugees and naturalized communities far from the African Great Lakes region. Most didn’t have direct contact with the RPF. They began intense lobbying with human rights organizations and activist movements, using international events to demonstrate and raise awareness about the Rwandan refugee issue in the press. For example, the year 1989 corresponded to the thirtieth anniversary of the 1959 Rwanda revolution and the bicentenary celebration of the Declaration of the Rights of the Man and of the Citizen in France. Taking advantage of this conjunction of dates, in November of that year, Rwandan communities in Brussels, Cotonou, Geneva, Montreal, Paris, and Washington, DC, organized demonstrations in front of Rwandan embassies, attracting press coverage. The refugee community in Dakar set things off in June 1989 at the Francophonie Summit in Dakar. It published an open letter to President Habyarimana that received good coverage in the French-speaking international press, in which they asked the following question: “Mr President, . . . it is true that you were not born a refugee like some of us, but what guarantee do you have that you won’t become one tomorrow?”15 Benefiting from an initial wave of democratization in the world and using the additional argument of the rapid deterioration of the domestic political and social situation in Rwanda, these refugee communities embarked on an international awareness campaign. When war broke out on 1 October 1990, led by the RPF, the members of these communities—even those without direct prior knowledge of the RPF’s activities and intentions—backed it enthusiastically. Soon, the movement took advantage of their independently built networks.16 The Rwandan government did take steps to appear to meet the refugees’ demands, notably creating in February 1989 the Special Commission on the Problem of Rwandan Emigrants.17 Activist refugees rejected the term “emigrant,” used by President Habyarimana in an interview with the magazine Jeune Afrique in April 1989, where he mentioned these efforts.

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According to the activists, the term “emigrant” ignored the question’s political dimension. A French scholar, Gérard Prunier, states that in the second half of 1990, the special commission was preparing, with the help of UNHCR, to repatriate refugees in mass and that the RPF would have attacked in October in an attempt to scuttle this idea.18 President Habyarimana in a speech before the UN General Assembly on 28 September 1990, three days before the RPF attack, announced the offer of citizenship and travel documents to refugees who wanted them and repatriation of large numbers of those who desired to return to Rwanda. But these apparent concessions to the refugees, as unilateral as they sounded, turned out to be only a public relations exercise. Evoking the eventuality of a repatriation of the refugees, a well-informed author stated that “the Habyarimana regime definitively chose not to try. During the summer of 1990 the Kigali government envoys who were supposed to have gone to Uganda to select ‘a representative group of refugees’ to launch the repatriation process were told ‘not to hurry.’”19 President Habyarimana was aware of the RPF preparations for an invasion. He counted on French military support and opted for military confrontation as a diversion from the intense domestic opposition that he was facing.20 The RPF’s Ideological Origins As we have seen, the cultural awakening of Rwandan refugees expressed itself through the recollection of a precolonial past. It would, however, be wrong to see in this cultural revival simply a reinvestment in traditional Tutsi elitism.21 Backed by a lively historical memory, the process of political mobilization, which would lead to the creation of the RPF, saw the most politicized groups of refugees distance themselves from the traditional elitist ideology and embrace progressive, even revolutionary, ideas.22 Attraction for these ideas in vogue in the 1970s was more marked among the refugee intelligentsia living in Uganda. It was present in almost all communities, although it was still the minority opinion compared to the social and political conservatism of most of the refugee communities. RANU, the group that later became the RPF, illustrates this process of ideological transformation. Although Rwandan refugees in Uganda in general supported the Democratic Party opposed to Milton Obote during his first term as president (1966–1971), some young Rwandans were attracted by the progressive and pan-African line of his Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) party.23 In 1968, President Obote launched the “Move to the Left” campaign, which led to lively leftist progressive and pan-African discussions in the country. The


The Antecedents

epicenter of these discussions was at Makerere University, brought to life by the very militant National Union of Students of Uganda (NUSU). This intellectual context marked many of the founders of RANU.24 RANU’s Intellectual Contribution Young Rwandan intellectuals began to leave Uganda in the mid-1970s for Nairobi. Over two years, a group whose members were mostly graduates of Makerere University often met informally to discuss the future of Rwandan refugees. In preparation for the future, these young people sought to study the failure of nationalist movements in Rwanda and learn from their elders’ errors. There was an imposing presence of many historic UNAR leaders in Nairobi from whom the young activists tried to learn. They wanted to know why the nationalist UNAR had failed although its goals were noble and why the inyenzi lost their combat despite their just cause. They also wanted to learn how the elder UNAR members envisaged the future.25 In preparation for creating their movement, these young activists were extremely careful not to repeat the errors that had resulted in the failure of their UNAR elders and the inyenzi, especially the factionalism, the lack of an internal democratic process, and embezzlement of funds.26 This historical review also had the effect of grounding more firmly their anti-imperialism thinking—a generic position among African progressives at that time—in the extension of the experience of the anticolonial struggle lost by their elders from UNAR.27 Obote’s return to power in April 1979 threatened the Rwandan communities in Uganda and led to the formal creation of the RANU in December of that same year, with a branch in Nairobi and another in Kampala. Before going into hiding with Yoweri Museveni, Rwigema was responsible for the operations commission of the group in Kampala, in addition to other activities in preparing for war.28 Although RANU had taken on UNAR’s two main objectives, namely promotion of national unity and defense of sovereignty, the founders decided not to associate the former UNAR members with their initiative.29 Although recognizing the UNAR as a nationalist predecessor, the young refugees decided to leave behind the idiosyncratic and closed nature of the terms of the political debate in Rwanda as it had been organized since the end of colonization in Rwanda, with its ethnic fixation, and to include their action in the larger current of “African nationalism and successful revolutions in the world.”30 RANU set the objective of creating national unity and combating injustices in Rwanda in the spirit of “true democratic and socialist republicanism.”31 The organization adopted the strategy of bringing together all the progressive forces inside and outside the country. The initial means of achieving

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this were political appeals in international forums.32 RANU subordinated the question of the refugees’ return to Rwanda to the political and social transformation in Rwanda “by all possible political or military means.”33 RANU did not seek to impose a general return of refugees but only the return of those who wanted to go.34 At the beginning of the 1980s, RANU undertook steps in Nairobi to lobby the embassies of countries open to helping them, such as Ethiopia, Libya, Tanzania, and Eastern European countries. Two missions went to Burundi. RANU asked the Burundian government to back military training of young Rwandans. Aside from moral support, these attempts did not produce much. RANU also systematically sent petitions to the OAU summits and to international conferences on refugees. RANU understood rather quickly that in order to be heard by the international community, it had to acquire a certain influence, even if it were limited to outside Rwanda. The fear of repeating errors of UNAR and the inyenzi led RANU to opt for a slow evolution of the movement, favoring discussion and decisions by consensus. The UNAR and inyenzi leaders’ experience of demanding subsides from several countries and then seeing the money embezzled encouraged RANU to opt for strict financial self-sufficiency of the association and rigorous management of the use of funds.35 After Museveni began guerrilla activities, in which many Rwandan refugees had enrolled, the question of the relationship between RANU with the NRA came up. In November 1981, Rwigema left his hiding spot in the bush for Kampala to ask RANU’s leaders to mobilize young Rwandan refugees to join the newly created NRA. Some leaders demanded first the signing of a formal agreement between the NRA and RANU concerning later support for returning to Rwanda, a demand that Rwigema was not prepared to consider. Finally, the organization opted to facilitate the recruitment of young Rwandans without preconditions and then later to negotiate support from within the NRA.36 In 1984, an enrollment campaign was arranged between RANU and the Rwandan leaders in the NRA. Six members of RANU joined the NRA in hiding. Some of these recruits were highly educated, for example Peter Bayingana, a physician at a large Nairobi hospital, and later became high-ranking officers in the RPF army. RANU was the most ambitious among Rwandan refugee organizations, the most in contact with the refugees’ political reality, especially in Uganda. Most of its members had lived in the camps at the most difficult times along with most of the high-ranking Rwandan officers in the NRA. RANU shared, however, the same weakness in achieving its goals and aspirations as the other Rwandan refugee organizations. In the context of the mid-1980s, when the MRND and President Habyarimana still exerted confident control over the country and benefited from broad international support, these organizations were left powerless becasue they only had


The Antecedents

their appeals to the international community. Despite meager results from its tangible action during the eight years of existence, however, RANU’s ideological contribution to the direction of change in Rwanda was important. Although RANU’s raison d’être had been to settle the question of Rwandan refugees, the organization had subordinated this objective to the larger one of transforming the state and Rwandan society, above all with the support of the population both inside and outside of Rwanda.37 Despite its ambition, RANU remained a small organization and started really to grow only after the Rwandan military from the NRA joined it in 1987, but at that moment the organization had already begun its transformation into the RPF. Creation of the RPF: The Result of a Politico-Military Alliance After the NRA victory, RANU moved its headquarters to Kampala in order to be closer to the many Rwandans who lived there, but also to be closer to Rwandan NRA combatants and the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government, seen as an ally. Although RANU had encouraged its members to join the NRA, the NRA victory in January 1986 caught the organization’s leaders unprepared. Just one month earlier, it had held its third congress in Nairobi, during which the question of war had been discussed but only in general terms. The debate focused on reaffirmation of the possible option of war as a means to attain its objectives. Once the reaffirmation of war as a possible method of action was adopted, the question that came up was that of the strategy to be used to put it into practice. Discussions led to sometimes quite fanciful proposals, revealing how estranged the RANU leaders were from the subject. The idea of using Rwandan NRA officers was not focused on because there was no formal contact with them. Until a few months before the fourth RANU congress in December 1987, which made official its transformation into the RPF, relations between RANU leaders and the Rwandan NRA officers remained unclear.38 In preparation for the third RANU congress in December 1985 in Nairobi, the secretariat asked members for proposals for restructuring the organization. From France, where he had studied and participated in the French Communist Party, Rutaremara sent a document entitled “Dukore iki?,” Lenin’s question “What to do?” Rutaremara proposed transforming RANU from a club of intellectuals into a mass movement capable of achieving its goals. He advocated, like his Bolshevik inspiration, to change RANU into an action-oriented organization, an avant-garde movement made up of people dedicated full time to the liberation of Rwanda. In 1986, RANU asked Rutaremara to come to Kampala to put his ideas into practice.

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In mid-1987, the RANU executive committee established a task force to carry out the organization’s transformation and to mobilize refugees, especially the younger generation. It was composed of two civilians, Rutaremara and Protais Musoni, plus two military officers, Alphonse Furuma and Wilson Rutayisire, who had been NRA political commissioners.39 By then, the Rwandan refugee leaders within the NRA had joined with RANU and assigned Major Bayingana as their liaison agent. Their natural leader, Major General Rwigema, could not expose himself as working in a Rwandan refugee political organization.40 During its years in the bush, the NRA adopted revolutionary war tactics and gave systematic political training to its combatants. Many Rwandan refugee civilians living in Uganda who would later join the RPF also received revolutionary political training in the Resistance Councils, the NRM basic local level constituency, during NRA’s military advance and after gaining power. It would be appropriate to question the depth of adherence to this revolutionary discourse by many, but this rhetoric has certainly offered the leaders of the RPF an effective platform for action. Civilian RANU leadership and that of the Rwandan NRA officers basically shared the same objectives, although the military had more experience in the management of people. The Rwandan NRA officers insisted on the RPF adopting pragmatism, openness, and inclusion of all those with goodwill beyond political or ideological sectarianism and “sloganism.” The two groups easily agreed on the key elements of the initial RPF program and promoted mass participation both in the phases of seizing power and exercising it. The influence of the military also brought clarity as to the choice of warfare as the main means of action.41 One of the task force’s first duties was to create political schools in which participants were made aware of the need to wage an armed struggle to bring about change in Rwanda and allow the return of refugees. The instruction program included an introduction to political science and Marxist philosophy plus revolutionary operational methods and mobilization. The history of Rwanda formed an important part of the program, but it was an analytical history inspired by historical materialism, not narrative, and largely cleansed of its monarchical dimensions. One of the main points of this historical analysis was deconstruction of ethnic antagonism in Rwanda presented as a strategy to seize power and resources by the elites. Participants at these initial schools became the first permanent RANU cadres and established the emblematic figure of the RPF Kada.42 They were sent to refugee communities in towns and camps in Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zaire tasked with sensitizing refugees about waging an armed struggle for the return of refugees and to bring change in Rwanda and to learn about local opinions about this plan. Although the majority came from Uganda, a few of these initial young cadres came from Burundi and Zaire.


The Antecedents

In October 1987, the cadres returned to Kampala with the reactions they had gathered. In general, the prospect of an armed struggle leading to a large-scale return of refugees to Rwanda was strongly backed, but with a few nuances. Elders were initially reticent to embrace warfare, fearing a repetition of the disastrous experience of the inyenzi. There were also differences among host countries. In Burundi and Uganda, young people were enthusiastic and willing to fight.43 In Zaire, however, at the beginning, relatively few people, even in Goma, Bukavu, and Bibwe, backed the project. The information gathered had also shown different political and social leanings among refugees: widespread social and political conservatism was professed particularly by well-established refugees, some were royalists, and some small groups claimed to be socialists or revolutionaries. In preparation for the fourth RANU congress, which was to be held in December 1987, three documents were drafted: an eight-point political program, simple and pragmatic; an operational guide that, although it gave broad autonomy to the RANU regions, was based on democratic centralism; and a code of conduct.44 At this congress, RANU would be scuttled and replaced by a new organization called the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), Inkotanyi. The RPF differed from RANU in wanting an inclusive front, open to all Rwandans who shared its minimal political program, without political sectarianism. The RPF abandoned RANU’s Marxist phraseology and political radicalism but retained its organizational structure.45 This included the division of the countries around the world with large Rwandan refugee communities or diasporas in regions with code names.46 The RPF added a commission for women and another for youth to the four RANU commissions and then later a commission for political mobilization.47 The RPF’s eight-point minimum political program stressed restoration of national unity, defense of the country’s sovereignty, establishment of true democracy, creation of an integrated economy, self-sufficiency, and the eradication of all forms of corruption. What was notable is that the question of the repatriation of the refugees was relegated to the sixth point. The RPF’s eight-point program had put revolutionary rhetoric aside and was pragmatic and understated. But the desire for profound transformation of Rwanda was evident in the discourse of the RPF leaders because the political, social, and economic configuration of the country as it stood at the time left little room for a collective return of the refugees.48 Political and Military Mobilization After its creation, the RPF began to mobilize and recruit members everywhere there were refugee communities. Despite a willingness to expand the movement’s ranks, recruitment was individual and selective, and con-

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fidentiality was enforced. In the beginning, only certain small groups in the various communities were part of the movement, until the last months leading to October 1990 when the RPF was preparing to launch the armed struggle. For early recruits, membership in the RPF was for many an emotionally transforming experience: “From that moment onward, I became another person. I had gotten rid of my status of an apathetic, resigned fatalistic and defeatist refugee, to become an active, determined combatant certain of victory. My heart was filled with joy.”49 Knowledge about the existence of the RPF began to spread in these communities, creating opposition among defenders of the option of integration in the host countries, especially in Zaire and marginally in Burundi, as well as those who had begun to establish contacts with Rwandan embassies. In Tanzania, recruitment was also difficult because a number of long-term refugees had been given citizenship or thought they had. In Rwanda even, small RANU cells had been created as early as 1984 in Kigali, Gisenyi, Gitarama, and Rwamagana that were cut off from each other for reasons of security. Some intellectuals, especially in Western countries, were opposed to war or the obligation to swear solemn allegiance on your head in order to join the movement. This opposition was also sometimes caused by members who took advantage of their positions in the movement to settle personal scores by excluding those whom they considered insufficiently patriotic. Most of this dissension disappeared after the perceived daring RPF attack on 1 October 1990. Overnight almost all the refugee communities joined in solidarity and gave their support to the RPF. From the very beginning, the RPF also made a special effort to recruit Hutus from various social categories outside of Rwanda. Prominent individuals, such as former minister Alexis Kanyarengwe, international civil servant Seth Sendashonga, and businessman Silas Majyambere, were recruited directly by the movement’s leaders. Banyarwanda with Rwandan roots living in the subregion were also approached. The descendants of economic migrants from the colonial period who had escaped from forced labor by settling in Uganda, the descendants of people deported from Rwanda to the Shaba region to work in Congolese mines in the 1940s by the Belgian colonizers, and the Banyarwanda and the Banyamulenge communities respectively in North and South Kivu were also contacted and made aware of the RPF’s plans. A substantial number of young Banyarwanda and Banyamulenge living in political exclusion joined the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) and proved to be good combatants accustomed to the difficult life of shepherds’ transhumance. In preparation for the war that they intended to fight in Rwanda, Rwandan NRA officers set out to create their own army within the Ugandan army in which they served. For that, they benefited from President Museveni’s tacit agreement.50 When the NRM took over power in Uganda in January


The Antecedents

1986, the NRA had about 3,000 Banyarwanda and around 1,500 Rwandan refugees.51 The most important and the most difficult task was to recruit and train young Rwandan refugees in large numbers without raising suspicion.52 The continuation of the fighting in northern Uganda and the need to deploy soldiers in the entire country facilitated this military infiltration. Just as the clandestine Rwandan leadership had since at least 1984 sought to attract Rwandan refugees to the NRA for the purpose of returning to Rwanda, it had also encouraged refugees to assume command positions. After Major Paul Kagame returned from training in Cuba in mid-1987, he and General Rwigema began to organize their clandestine army more methodically. The rise in anti-Rwandan pressure within the NRA and removal of Rwandan refugee high-ranking officers (notably Rwigema) from sensitive positions of operational responsibility made the conspirators realize that their margin for maneuver was shrinking.53 If they did not soon take steps, they would quickly be unable to do so. In 1989, Rwigema, Kagame, and Chris Bunyenyezi were sent for studies, but they arranged it so that only Kagame left, permitting Rwigema to continue preparing to attack in Rwanda. Mobilization of Rwandan refugees who were already operating inside the NRA occurred naturally; a strong feeling of community linked them. Almost 3,000 new recruits were trained between 1987 and 1989. When the RPA launched its offense in Rwanda, there were around 4,000 men.54 Transformation of the RPF Under Fire Early on the morning of 1 October 1990, around four hundred men entered Rwanda at the Kagitumba border post. In the following hours and days, the rest of the troops followed, accompanied by excited civilians seeking to enroll. The soldiers had deserted the NRA in mass in various regions in Uganda. They took important equipment, individual weapons, light artillery, ammunition, and vehicles with them. One month after the beginning of the offensive, the bulk of the RPA was forced back into Uganda. Two years later, the RPA succeeded in reversing the situation and got the upper hand on the government army, which was abundantly assisted by France. Guerrilla Warfare in a Very Unfavorable Context In the delicate political context of Uganda, the RPA, which had experienced combatants, focused on the phase of clandestine desertion from the NRA and had not sufficiently prepared its entry into Rwanda. The RPA began to fight without a coherent strategy in a conventional offensive in a savanna region that it did not know well against a well-equipped adversary. Rwan-

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dans in the NRA had never fought together as a group, which raised serious problems of organization and leadership.55 On the second day of the invasion, on 2 October 1990, Commander Rwigema was killed by enemy fire. His death deprived the RPA of a unified command, and units fought on their own. Three weeks later, the two officers who had somehow assumed the command after Rwigema’s death, Majors Bayingana and Bunyenyezi, were caught in an ambush. The RPA lost many men, many more were wounded, and a number of soldiers including some officers deserted. On 15 October, the Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR), backed by French helicopters and Zairean troops, began a counteroffensive that recovered all its advance positions in the towns of Gabiro, Kabarole, and Nyagatare from the RPA. By mid-October, Major Kagame had returned from the United States and set out to restore order to an army in tatters, caught up in deep despair and total disorganization after having lost its charismatic leader. Some commanders suggested returning to Uganda to ask Museveni to again accept them as refugees. Major Kagame took over and planned a diversion attack farther west toward the important border post of Gatuna in Byumba prefecture, closer to Kigali than Kagitumba, hoping that major success would raise the troops’ morale. At the same time, he organized logistics and reorganized the troops. But under enemy heavy fire on 28 October 1990, the bulk of RPA troops evacuated the headquarters at Kagitumba and retreated to Uganda, leaving a small group of fighters in the Akagera park. On 1 November, the Rwandan government organized demonstrations in the country’s main towns, celebrating the end of the “October War,” during which people in the processions pretended to be burying Rwigema. The night before, RPA units passing through the Ugandan territory had taken Gatuna and the surrounding area. While the government celebrated its victory, in a press conference in Brussels, Rutaremara announced simultaneously the deaths of Rwigema and of his companions Bayingana and Bunyenyezi and the taking of Gatuna. This message was especially useful for dispelling rumors that were circulating that not only had Rwigema been killed but that he had been killed by Bayingana and Bunyenyezi. By announcing the taking of Gatuna, the RPF was telling its supporters and the world that the war was not over.56 Kagame, who had assumed command of the army, changed strategy, abandoning conventional warfare for guerrilla tactics. Operating from Gatuna, where he had set up his headquarters, he organized the redeployment of the troops in three groups. One, taking the RPA headquarters with it, went into the forests on the volcanoes in the northwest, which reached altitudes of more than 3,000 meters. Another settled in the woods on the banks of the Umuvumba River, on the axis of the border post road of Gatuna, near Uganda, and a third landed


The Antecedents

in the banana plantations of Gishuro and Kaborogota, in the extreme northeast to the west of Nyagatare. The troops opened a passage through to the Ugandan side of the border. The transfer of troops was completed in January 1991 and permitted the RPA to escape FAR attacks more easily. Difficult access and the thick vegetation cover offered by the new main base had the disadvantage of very low temperatures at night plus the difficulty of bringing supplies up the steep hills. In the cold, many hungry and poorly dressed combatants lost their lives; others became seriously ill. A severe epidemic of dysentery also broke out among the soldiers at the beginning of the year. Visiting civilian RPF cadres, seeing the miserable state of the combatants, asked themselves whether the RPA had lost the war but refused to admit it. Then the RPA suffered a new wave of desertions. Tales told by deserters and silence from the battlefield led to a drop in morale among civilian RPA supporters in the subregion and elsewhere in the world. Contributions dropped with the arrival of new recruits. In Burundi and Zaire, deserters accused RPA officers of mistreatment and discrimination against French speakers. In the meantime, General Kagame reorganized his troops and imposed rigorous discipline while planning a new large-scale attack. From Burundi, a delegation of combatants’ parents came to inquire about the treatment of their children and was welcomed at the army’s headquarters. The RPA attacked the town of Ruhengeri on 22 and 23 January 1991, occupying it for several hours, during which it liberated prominent Hutu political prisoners from the prison. This occupation of the second most important town in the country and the regime’s political stronghold had considerable repercussions both inside Rwanda and among the diaspora. It contradicted government propaganda claiming that the RPA had been definitively defeated. Several days later, the FAR launched a powerful counteroffensive, pursuing the RPA right into its sanctuary in the forests of the volcanoes. Three strategic positions were attacked. At the beginning of April, the FAR penetrated in a strategic unit, directly threatening other units protecting the RPA headquarters.57 At this juncture, under international pressure, the Rwandan government agreed to sign in Zaire the N’Sele ceasefire agreement with the RPF. For the latter, that was its first official recognition by its adversary and the international community. But for the government, with its forces on the offensive, it felt like capitulation. In order to counter the accusations of the Rwandan government that the RPA had no position in Rwanda and operated only from Uganda, the agreement created a group of neutral Organization of African Unity (OAU) military observers, which was to patrol the border and prevent RPA excursions from Uganda. That ceasefire, however, was almost immediately broken, each party accusing the other of being responsible.

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Weakened and pushed back to its volcanic sanctuary, its back against the wall, the RPA reacted by adopting a war of movement and improved the effectiveness of its operations. In order to take pressure off the FAR in the mountains, the contingents at Umuvumba and Gishuro Hills went on the offensive. The RPA then defended a long battle line through the prefectures of Ruhengeri, Byumba, and Mutara, with attacks launched from anywhere all along the northern and northwestern border with Uganda. The RPA carried out hit-and-run attacks with small mobile units. It practiced late-night attacks, passages between enemy lines, and attacks behind lines, plus the use of trenches to defend against artillery fire. The RPA lost many men in these engagements. General Kagame organized the gathering of information, requested commanders to more carefully prepare attacks, and demanded answers from even the most prestigious among them. In the event of an excessive loss of men, Kagame did not hesitate to jail them.58 The RPA’s guerrilla tactics of launching attacks anywhere along the long battle line disoriented the FAR, which could no longer focus their efforts on any single place, causing them to lose the initiative. The fighting was very intense, with the FAR losing dozens and dozens of men in some battles. An initial turning point in the war for the RPA was the creation in June 1991 of a small occupied zone in the locality of Butaro in Byumba prefecture, just a few kilometers from the Ugandan border. The RPF abundantly spread word of this victory in order to counter accusations according to which the RPA was not fighting from Rwanda. The RPA headquarters left the forests on the volcanoes and moved to Butaro. The RPA then created an occupied area between Gatuna and Nyagatare around the Muvumba commune. On 3 November 1991, the FAR conducted a generalized offensive on the small belt of territory occupied by the APR. But the latter, despite significant losses, held good, marking an important turning point in the conflict. The FAR no longer sought to attack the belt and went into defensive mode. In 1992, the RPA and the FAR began to fight a war of position. In order to expand its occupied area and exert pressure on the Rwandan government, the RPA launched a major offensive centered on the town of Byumba, the largest town in that prefecture, at the beginning of June 1992. The FAR army fought vigorously to push back the RPA from this town that was politically important for the regime, and two days later the RPA was forced to withdraw. It had, nonetheless, expanded its area of occupation markedly, which had become a continuous strip joining its positions in Ruhengeri and Byumba. The French army participated in the attempted counteroffensive, directly fighting in Byumba using heavy artillery, including 105 mm canons. The FAR’s attempts to launch offensives on the RPA lines were failures, and each time they suffered a new loss of ground. The government asked for a ceasefire that the RPF accepted on the condition that it was followed by political talks. On 12 July 1992, an amendment to


The Antecedents

the N’Sele ceasefire agreement was signed providing for a neutral observation zone between the positions of the two adversaries. The ceasefire was effectively observed beginning on 31 July, and then on 10 August 1992 the Arusha peace process began. Between 21 and 25 January 1993, only two weeks after the signature in Arusha of the power-sharing agreement, hundreds of Tutsis were again massacred, this time in the west of the country. On 8 February 1993, the RPA broke the ceasefire by launching a large-scale offensive that broke through the government defenses and allowed them to advance to the hills around Kigali about 40 kilometers from the town. The RPF justified its offensive by claiming that President Habyarimana and his party had sabotaged the peace process through terrorist activities. In its response to the government request for another ceasefire, the RPF demanded the punishment of those involved in the new massacres. On 21 February, the RPF declared a unilateral ceasefire and expressed its willingness to retake its initial positions on the conditions that the FAR did not leave their new positions and that the buffer zone between the two armies be monitored by a neutral peacekeeping force. There were several reasons for this retreat. There was strong international pressure, but also the RPF had operational difficulties in holding on to the territory gained. Just as important was the RPF’s willingness to set a foot into the domestic political process in Rwanda through peace talks rather than be limited to war and remain an outside political element.59 The offensive of 8 February 1993 forced around 860,000 people to flee toward the south.60 Accusations of killings of some displaced people were also made against the RPA.61 The huge camps of displaced people in the vicinity of Kigali witnessed the RPA’s military might, which became a source of fear among the Rwandan political class and reinforced the extremists’ ranks. When massacres began to multiply in Kigali just after the assassination of President Habyarimana on 6 April 1994, the RPF proposed that the United Nations take the lead of a tripartite force to stop the massacres. According to that proposal, the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR), the FAR, and the RPA were each to provide 300 troops. The FAR rejected the proposal.62 On 9 April, three days after the beginning of the killing, the RPA returned to offensive fighting from the north, which three months later would result in a final victory against the FAR and other genocidal forces. The RPA lost many men in the war; of the 17,000 to 18,000 combatants who served in its ranks between 1990 and 1994, around one-third were killed.63 Faced with a rise of extremism and frequent massacres of rural Tutsis during armed confrontation from 1990 to 1994, the RPF leaders became aware that a large number of Tutsis would die, but according to some of them, they never thought that those killings would grow to become a full-fledged genocide.64

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Decisive Support of Refugee Communities The RPA was fighting in a largely hostile environment and in isolation in Rwanda. Uganda’s support was limited because of outside diplomatic pressure and internal political sensitivities. The Habyarimana regime presented the war as an invasion by Uganda. The neutral military observers patrolling the border complicated support activities from Uganda. Much of the fighting prior to 1994 had taken place in the regions in the north, the regime’s stronghold. Most of the local populations that came into contact with the RPA, terrorized by the government’s spies, were hostile to the RPA; they informed the FAR and refused to sell the RPA food. The RPA’s base of support was dispersed in the African Great Lakes region and elsewhere in the world. The launch of the attack on 1 October 1990 resulted in a rise in solidarity among almost all the refugee and diaspora communities. The refugee communities living near the terrain of hostilities in Uganda and Tanzania made great efforts to help the RPA. They cared for the wounded, provided food, encouraged deserters to return to the fighting, and facilitated the transportation of recruits from Burundi, Rwanda, and Zaire. Almost everywhere, refugees or former refugees showed solidarity, contributing to the RPF. In Western countries, activists, sometimes not yet members of the RPF, explained the RPF’s activities in the media. This enthusiasm petered out because of bad news from the front and the movement’s closed nature. Facing a military debacle and in need of additional support in order to recover, the RPF decided to ease the conditions of joining the movement by accepting all willing. The movement decided to abandon the use of clandestine operations and asked public figures, intellectuals such as Kimenyi and businesspeople, to become involved in the movement’s leadership.65 The movement was able to expand its ranks after taking Ruhengeri at the end of January 1991 because of the attention it had attracted. A new phase of mobilization began that by opening up allowed the channeling of vigorous support that the refugee communities and diasporas were ready to offer. Even the most reluctant communities, such as those in Tanzania and Zaire, joined the movement. Despite the growth of its ranks, the RPF continued to insist on political training for supporters and strict respect for its principles and procedures. The needs of the war effort, however, forced the RPF to change. Politically, the transition from clandestine recruitment to that of more public operations (within Rwandan communities) was accompanied by more transparency in its functioning. The transition was not without difficulty at the local level between the movement’s pioneers and the public figures that joined up later. Some of the new members had a high socioeconomic status and were well integrated into their respective host countries, and they


The Antecedents

often had substantial resources to contribute. The opening and expansion of the movement had the effect of somehow diffusing the movement’s center of political gravity from its Ugandan nucleus. The movement, which soon had tens of thousands of members throughout the world, also had to reform its operational methods and make them more objective. It chose a simple and supple bureaucratic system in order to accommodate the needs of communities living in very different contexts. The response of refugee communities in assuming part of the responsibility for the outcome of the war was very strong. RPA recruits arrived from Uganda as well as from Burundi, Tanzania, and Zaire. Some arrived even from Canada and Europe. Inside Rwanda, beginning in 1992, because of the democratization process under way and the participation of the opposition in the government, control over Tutsis was relaxed. New RPF cells were formed in the country, and a number of young people joined the RPA passing through Burundi, Zaire, and then Tanzania. Combat volunteers came from all social classes, even the most well off. Young women also responded to the call to arms. Pressure on young men in the refugee camps to enlist was very strong, as well as in some urban areas where there was a heavy concentration of Rwandan refugees. Secondary schools and universities emptied of their Rwandan students and lecturers—some became combatants, others became the movement’s permanent cadres. Women played a very active role in the mobilization at all levels, making it a major social movement in the various communities. The RPF had three main sources of funding: the regular and special dues of ordinary members, private contributions from wealthy individuals, and profits from the movement’s productive activities, most often small retail trade. The amounts collected could be considerable but varied depending on the military situation. They increased in times of major victories, such as the occupations of Ruhengeri and Byumba, but decreased sharply during the ceasefire. Following the announcement by France of the creation of Zone Turquoise at the end of June 1994, the sale of special contribution cards took in $3 million in one month. Very few cases of embezzlement occurred.66 Moral support for the RPA was also strong. After the ceasefire of July 1992, the RPF organized visits by delegations from various parts of the world, which led to outpourings of emotion when these visitors returned to their native land, protected by “their children.” The RPF later organized in its occupied territory seminars for the heads of commissions from the different regions in Africa, Europe, and North America. After RPA’s military debacle at the end of October 1990, when the RPF was still strongly centered around its constituent elements coming from Uganda, other refugee communities joined the effort, backing their new army and encouraging it to finish what it had begun, granting it a substan-

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tive part of the resources and moral support required to succeed. For the refugees, the choice of war was motivated not only by the will to impose change by force but also to protect themselves from a government and a heavily indoctrinated society that in the past had not hesitated in committing mass massacres. In the end, moved by various forces, Rwandan refugees had seized the historic opportunity that was the creation of an army of refugees in Uganda to return to their country, hoping that the worst would never happen. Notes 1. The work of Sentore, a former dancer at the court of Mwami Rudahigwa, and of Florida Uwera, niece of Mwami Rudahigwa and Mwami Kigeli, had widespread influence. In repayment for the training the young refugees in Bujumbura received, those whom they had trained in turn trained troupes everywhere in the world. 2. See the interviews of Muyango and three founding members of Imitari. Aimable Karirima, Muyango and Imitari igice cya mbere, film, https://www; Colette Braeckman, Rwanda, Mille collines, mille douleurs (Brussels: Éditions Nevicata, April 2014), p. 31. 3. This showed through primarily in the names of troupes that, as in the past, expressed this superlative self-promotion. Sentore’s troupe was named Indashyikirwa, the “Incomparable.” 4. Paul Rutayisire, Privat Rutazibwa, and Augustin Gatera, Rwanda: La Renaissance d’une Nation (Butare: Éditions de l’Université du Rwanda, 2012), p. 132. 5. After President Habyarimana had taken power and spoken out in favor of reconciliation, President Idi Amin Dada requested that the Rwandan government find a definitive solution to the problem of the Rwandan refugees living in Uganda. In July 1974, Amin placed the Rwandan government in contact with a delegation of refugees, and the parties drafted a plan for gradual repatriation. The Rwandan government ended up withdrawing from that. See Jean-Paul Kimonyo, Rwanda’s Popular Genocide: A Perfect Storm (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2016), pp. 47–50. 6. Rwandan refugees organized a small protest in front of the embassy of Burundi in Kinshasa, where David Munyurangabo had gone on the run. Munyurangabo, interview with James Munyaneza, New Times, 2 February 2009. 7. Aloys Ngurumbe, interview with Rangira and Kalinganire, Kanguka 52 (12 February 1992). 8. At the time of creation of the Special Commission on the Problems of Rwandan Emigrants in February 1989, only 300 cases of return had been negotiated following the terms of “the 1986 MRND position.” André Guichaoua, Le problème des refugees rwandais et populations banyarwanda dans la region des Grands Lacs africains (Geneva: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 1992), p. 31. 9. G. N., interview with author, 15 July 2015, Kigali. 10. Impuruza 12 (November 1988). 11. Alexandre Kimenyi, “Réfugiés rwandais: Demandez en masse vos passeports,” Impuruza 13 (January 1989).


The Antecedents

12. Impuruza 15 (December 1989). 13. “Les exilés tutsi affirment avoir épuisé les voies de la négociation,” La Libre Belgique, 4 October 1990. 14. Impuruza 17 (December 1990). 15. Rwandan refugees in Dakar, Senegal, “A monsieur le Président de la République Rwandaise,” open letter, 1989. 16. Braeckman, Rwanda, pp. 28–30. 17. Guichaoua, Le problème des refugees rwandais, p. 31. 18. Ibid.; André Guichaoua, From War to Genocide: Criminal Politics in Rwanda, 1990–1994 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2015), p. 31. 19. Diplomat from the Rwandan embassy in Kampala, interview with Gérard Prunier, 10 June 1993, in Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis, 1959–1994: History of a Genocide (London: Hurst, 1995), p. 99, n. 12. 20. Ibid. 21. An accusation against the RPF by the Habyarimana regime and the Hutu extremists from the outbreak of the war in October 1990 until their defeat in July 1994. See Jean-Pierre Chrétien, Jean-François Duparquier, Marcel Kabanda, and Joseph Ngarambe, Rwanda: Les médias du génocide (Paris: Karthala, 1995). 22. A number of historical Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) leaders tell how during the veillées, elders told them about ancient Rwanda and its greatness. Stephen Kinzer, A Thousand Hills: Rwanda’s Rebirth and the Man Who Dreamed It (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, 2008), p. 21. 23. Tito Rutaremara was one of those who at the time were in contact with progressive student leaders such as Ruhakana Rugunda and Orala Otunu. He took on the responsibility of teaching the contents of Milton Obote’s book The Common Man’s Charter to teachers in the Mbarara District. G. M., interview with author, 22 June 2015, Kigali. 24. G. M. interview, 22 June 2015. 25. Rutayisire, Rutazibwa, and Gatera, Rwanda, p. 92. 26. G. M. interview, 22 June 2015. 27. Ibid. 28. Rutayisire, Rutazibwa, and Gatera, Rwanda, p. 110. 29. Ibid., p. 92. 30. Ibid., p. 93. 31. Ibid., p. 96. 32. Ibid., pp. 95–96. 33. G. M. interview, 22 June 2015. 34. Rutayisire, Rutazibwa, and Gatera, Rwanda, p. 95. 35. G. M. interview, 22 June 2015. 36. Rutayisire, Rutazibwa, and Gatera, Rwanda, p. 112. 37. E. R., interview with author, 26 August 2015, Kigali. 38. Rutayisire, Rutazibwa, and Gatera, Rwanda, p. 117. 39. Ibid., p. 124. 40. E. N., interview with author, 17 July 2013, Kigali. 41. Rutayisire, Rutazibwa, and Gatera, Rwanda, p. 140. 42. The RPF cadres became the kingpins of the movement, acting as links between the leaders and refugees. Because of the very scattered and diversified nature of RPF’s social base, they played a major role in the organization. They were polyvalent mobilizers, logisticians, conciliators, and spies. They worked full time and visited the most distant parts of the country. They lived and moved about because of the contributions of the communities that they visited. Many of them had

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attended the university, and when the war broke out, sometimes against the preferences of the hierarchy, some decided to take up arms. 43. In Burundi, however, notables organized into a “reflexion group” that was opposed to the project and argued rather for integration into the country. A minority within the community, they ended up joining the majority. 44. This is a method of organization inspired by Lenin, which encourages discussion and passes along the result up the hierarchical chain but at the same time requires obedience to all of the decisions from this chain of command. This process turned out to be very effective for the management of diverse and culturally dispersed communities little inclined toward self-management and self-discipline. 45. It was a congress and meetings of the Political Bureau, the National Executive Committee, the General Assembly, and regional committees. 46. Kenya was region A, Uganda B, Tanzania C, Burundi D, Zaire E, Europe F, Canada G, and Rwanda O. 47. This rather cursory program closely resembled the ten points of the NRM, with a few differences. 48. Observation of the author. 49. Jean-Marie Vianney Rurangwa, Un Rwandais sur les routes de l’exile (Paris: Karthala, 2005). 50. See interview with Museveni in Christophe Cotteret, Inkotanyi, film. 51. Kinzer, A Thousand Hills, p. 51. 52. Namely young refugees who began to arrive from Burundi and Zaire in 1987, who did not speak English, and others from Tanzania. 53. At the end of the 1986 war, Fred Rwigema was deputy commander in chief of the armies, number two in the army after President Museveni. In 1989, he was named adjoint to the minister of defense, leaving the army for the administration before returning as commander of operations in northern Uganda. 54. J. B., interview with author, 15 June 2015, Kigali. 55. E. K., interview with author, 15 June 2015, Kigali. 56. Ibid. 57. Rutayisire, Rutazibwa, and Gatera, p. 200. 58. E. K. interview, 15 June 2015. 59. J. R. interview, 15 June 2015. 60. Alison Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda (New York/Paris: Human Rights Watch/International Federation of Human Rights, 1999), p. 175. 61. Fédération internationale des droits de l’homme (Paris), Africa Watch (Washington, DC), Union interafricaines des droits de l’homme and des peuples (Ouagadougou), Centre des droits de la personne and du développement démocratique (Montréal), Rapport de la Commission internationale d’enquête sur les violations des droits de l’homme au Rwanda depuis le 1er octobre 1990 (March 1993). 62. Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story, p. 20. 63. J. R. interview, 15 June 2015. 64. Ibid. 65. Rutayisire, Rutazibwa, and Gatera, p. 208. 66. Aloysia Nyumba, interview, Rwanda Dispatch 11 (September 2009).

PART 2 In the Wake of Catastrophe

5 July 1994

In the days immediately following the capture of Kigali on 4 July 1994 and after three months of hectic massacres and fierce fighting, Kigali was an abandoned city, governed by silence, emptiness, and the stench of death. Only an occasional Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) military vehicle, foot patrols, and a few survivors were seen in streets cluttered with the abandoned remains of vehicles. Survivors, looking like the walking dead, had emerged from their hiding places or left various points of refuge that had been spared the carnage. Some schools, churches, and the national stadium served several thousand people who had sought refuge during three months of hell. Most of the inhabitants of Kigali had left the city, initially seeking safety in the hills around Kigali in the thick of the fighting and then fleeing westward to Zaire or to the Operation Turquoise safe haven created by the French army. Dogs fed on corpses and roamed in aggressive packs, only to be shot as here and there sporadic shots shattered the silence. In outlying areas such as Nyamirambo, recently dug ground and barely buried bodies indicated the location of mass graves. In poorer areas, among destroyed houses or at a street corner, it was not uncommon to find a body lying by the roadside, although efforts had been made to clear the commercial center and main residential areas. During the first days after the massacres, the unreal atmosphere gripping Kigali reflected the scale of the recent tragedy it had just witnessed. In the rest of the country, signs of destruction were less evident because of the general lack of physical infrastructure. Nonetheless, hearts and minds were wounded just as much. Even if the intensity of the massacres was not the same everywhere, no region was spared the killing of Tutsis. In barely a hundred days, roughly 75 percent of the Tutsi population had been exterminated, making this genocide one of the twentieth century’s most devastating. 97


In the Wake of Catastrophe

The date of Kigali’s capture by the RPF—4 July 1994—is usually taken to be the symbolic end of the genocide. However, the more significant date, which marked the end of the civil war and the end of the interim genocidal “Hutu regime” is 19 July 1994, when the RPF announced a unilateral ceasefire and the creation of a new government. Contemporary history, though replete with tragic episodes, had never witnessed a genocide so radical in scope and intensity as that to which Rwandan Tutsis fell victim between April and July 1994. The dimensions of this genocide weigh heavily and will continue to torment the protagonists for a long time to come. Several of the most striking aspects were the mass nature of the genocide, both in terms of the number of victims and numbers of those taking an active part in it as well as how quickly it took place. Although the number of victims is still disputed, the overall figures often cited vary between 800,000 and one million killed, the vast majority of them Tutsis.1 More recent data show there had been a considerable underestimation of the number of Tutsis living in Rwanda before the genocide, however, and thus provide support for the higher estimates of numbers killed.2 Total Genocide Most of the Tutsis who were in Rwanda at that time were killed in a total genocide that came close to complete extermination of the targeted population.3 Physical control of the population was crucial for the success of extermination in this small country (26,000 square kilometers; 10,000 square miles), where international borders can be reached almost from any point in less than a day’s walk. In a very short time, hundreds of thousands of Tutsis were no longer able to leave the country, although no exceptional administrative or logistical measure had been prepared to gather future victims and prevent them from fleeing. There were no concentration camps, no large prisons, and no means of transporting the victims or the killers. The instrument of physical control and for tracking down and flushing out Tutsis was the local Hutu inhabitants themselves. The actual killing was carried out by soldiers and gendarmes but also—and above all—by militias and groups of civilians. Young men primarily made up these groups, but often they also had older men, women, and even children.4 Large informal search parties hunted down Tutsis. The killing occurred essentially in broad daylight and in public places, such as communal offices and churches. Most of the Tutsis who had gathered inside or near buildings were quickly trapped by crowds of local inhabitants in a state of heightened excitement armed with machetes, clubs, and sharpened sticks, often in a din of drums, beaten pots and pans, loud whistles. Even when attacks took place on iso-

July 1994


lated hills where Tutsis had sought refuge, a large portion of the local population was present or took an active part.5 The experience of this mass public participation in the genocide gave rise to a conviction about collective Hutu guilt among survivors of the genocide. It also prompted a number of Hutus to engage in acts of solidarity with the killers; even by some who did not necessarily endorse the genocidal ideology at the beginning. The manner in which the genocide was carried out also created feelings of fear and panic among many of those who had not been immediately designated as victims by the Hutus. In fact, although the early stages of the genocide followed some fairly clear ground rules—with clear identification of the persons to be hunted down, a simple form of justification, and the prevalence of a certain order—toward the end of the killing the situation changed, with the spread of more indiscriminate violence. The rise to power of those who participated most enthusiastically in the killings, the bloody settling of scores by killers fighting with machetes over looted goods, and the collapse of public order in many communities created social situations that were saturated with violence. Added to this were doubts toward the end as to the purpose of the orgy of violence into which communities had been plunged. With the arrival of the first Hutu fugitives followed by militias and soldiers routed by the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) advance, feelings of anguish quickly turned to panic and spread through communities. There was the realization that what had just happened would not be without consequences, and the next step was to be a headlong flight toward the west for a large part of the population. A Politically and Spatially Divided Country After the RPF victory on 19 July 1994, Rwanda found itself divided into three distinct zones of influence, reflecting the incomplete character of that victory. The first zone, controlled by the RPF, covered the entire country except for the southwestern part where the Operation Turquoise zone had been established. The second was Zone Turquoise itself, which was controlled by the French army. The third zone was made up of refugee camps under the control of the political and military forces that had just committed genocide. They were located in eastern Zaire in its North and South Kivu provinces and, to a lesser extent, in Burundi and Tanzania. The RPF-Controlled Zone

During the three months of killing, the most intense and protracted confrontations between the FAR and the RPA took place in the north, but above all in and around Kigali. Even before the fall of the city, part of the FAR


In the Wake of Catastrophe

had begun to move toward the west, following the interim government and taking in its wake a large portion of the population that had been mobilized with the help of local authorities. Once Kigali had been taken, the conquering of the rest of the country by the RPF forces was in essence a question of hot pursuit. During this rapid conquest, the RPA took on board many new recruits, including young survivors, deserters from the FAR, and even inadvertently some members of local militias that were involved in the killings. A number of those who took part in the genocide were thus able to change sides and enroll in the RPA without being noticed.6 The challenge facing the RPA was to cover the entire country with a military presence in order to impose the new order. Over the next few months, pockets of resistance made up of ex-FAR soldiers and Interahamwe militia held out, especially in the west.7 Killers based in Zone Turquoise and the refugee camps in Zaire and Tanzania filtered back into the country, picking off survivors of the genocide living in the border regions. During these early days of transition between war and peace, the RPA forces sought to neutralize all those who might present a threat and to provide security while pacifying the country. Soldiers took on the tasks of local administration in many places, along with RPF political cadres.8 Reestablishing order led to the arrest of people implicated in the genocide and other crimes, without regard for legal procedures, often based on simple denunciation. Threats to public security came from isolated genocidal groups that continued to eliminate survivors but sometimes also from survivors and other Tutsis who committed acts of vengeance, often with the complicity of soldiers. This initial postgenocide period marked the beginning of the transition between the old and the new order, which was to last for several years. One of the most widespread attitudes among the inhabitants who had not fled was denial of what had just happened. Journalist Chris McGreal tells a revealing story of one Sunday mass in early July in the tiny locality of Gishyita in Kibuye prefecture. 9 At the entrance to a church, where the strong stench of decay was coming from a nearby mass grave, a woman questioned about what had happened gave this answer. “It’s all lies,” she said, refusing to look at the foot sticking out of the grave, the skull placed on a window-ledge or the dried blood on the walls of the church. She denied there was any unusual smell. “Everything’s normal, nothing happened here.” Where were her Tutsi neighbors? “They left,” she said. All at the same time? She continued into the church to practice a religion that condemns murder and the telling of lies.10

Despite ethnic polarization and the fear and flight of a large part of the Hutu population, whether to the French army’s Zone Turquoise or to camps in Burundi, Tanzania, and Zaire, it should be noted that most of the

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Hutu population remained where they lived or at least nearby. In Kigali, for example, tens of thousands of people had fled to the nearby hills but quickly returned home. As of 19 July 1994, the number of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) was estimated to be around three million.11 That means that approximately half the Hutu population remained or quickly returned to their homes. Typically, those who returned to the RPF-controlled part of the country, for instance Kigali, often emphasized the fact that they were Rwandans and that those who had taken part in the massacres were only a minority, in sharp contrast to the litany of ethnic hatred that had predominated earlier. The Hutu population that decided not to flee after the change of government was a varied group. It contained different experiences and degrees of involvement in the massacres―many self-confessed killers remained where they lived―as well as varying motivations. Inertia, circumstances preventing rapid departure, or a run-in with the perpetrators were among many other factors that played a part in the choice to remain. The inhabitants who stayed were politically heterogeneous and ambiguous, but they would constitute the basis for the country’s reunification. Zone Turquoise

The French army’s Operation Turquoise, which was deployed to Rwanda on 23 June 1994, created a “safe humanitarian zone,” the so-called Zone Turquoise. The operation, authorized by a UN Security Council resolution, had the stated purpose of providing humanitarian assistance and stopping the massacres.12 In reality, the impressive military means mobilized for that operation were, according to President Mitterrand’s plans, conceived to impose a freeze on hostilities and block the RPF’s advance. Operation Turquoise was planned to cut the country into two above and below Kigali with, on one side, an RPF zone and, on the other, a zone controlled by the interim genocidal government.13 Overtaken by events—the RPA was forging ahead after the fall of Kigali on 4 July—and faced with the imminent fall of Gisenyi and Ruhengeri in the northwest, the French army created the so-called safe humanitarian zone on 5 July. This covered part of Cyangugu, Gikongoro, and Kibuye prefectures in the southwest of the country and spread to cover approximately one-fifth of the total area of Rwanda. The French army immediately set about cooperating with the FAR commanders and the local administration, which had just overseen the carrying out of the genocide. A portion of the genocidal forces, accompanied by many civilians, unable to take the northern route out toward Gisenyi and the town of Goma in Zaire, found refuge in Zone Turquoise. Making the camp at Nyarushishi in Cyangugu prefecture safe for Tutsi survivors was the humanitarian showcase of Operation Turquoise, and


In the Wake of Catastrophe

it was given much media coverage. Upon arrival, the French army did not disarm the FAR soldiers and the militias. These continued to secretly kill Tutsis, especially near the Nyarushishi camp and elsewhere.14 In the Kibuye prefecture, French soldiers knowingly allowed a relentless massacre to unfold in the Bisesero Hills over a period of three days. The presence of international journalists finally forced them to put a stop to the massacre.15 Zone Turquoise allowed for the provision of assistance to survivors of the genocide, although often undertaken with great hostility, but it served above all to make good the escape of part of the FAR army and the genocidal administration along with hundreds of thousands of refugees fearing the RPF advance.16 The French army facilitated their supply of weapons and ammunition from Goma in Zaire.17 Radio des Milles Collines and Radio Rwanda also found refuge in Zone Turquoise, where they were free to continue to broadcast calls for murder, albeit in more allusive language.18 Toward the end of August, these broadcasts incited people to flee in large numbers to Zaire. If fear of possible reprisal by the RPF was one reason to flee, support for the genocidal project also played its part, as reported by journalist Lindsey Hilsum. Many of the armed men at road blocks in what is now the Frenchprotected zone sport the colors of the [Coalition for the Defense of the Republic (CDR)] (a small political party that was the most radically antiTutsi and heavily involved in the genocide) and badges bearing the image of the late president. Large numbers of Hutus who fled the RPF advance still seem to espouse the genocidal ideology and profess no regret for the half million murders committed over the past three months.19

By mid-August, Zone Turquoise had attracted 600,000 IDPs to Gikongoro prefecture, 800,000 to Cyangugu prefecture, and 300,000 to Kibuye prefecture.20 The exodus of Rwandan refugees toward Bukavu, in Zaire, took place in two phases: first in mid-July, and then at the end of August—that is, a few days before the end of the mandate for Operation Turquoise and, therefore, a few days before the departure of the French soldiers. Around 300,000 people thus left Zone Turquoise, including tens of thousands of soldiers and militiamen plus hundreds of thousands of simple subsistence farmers. After this exodus, the former Zone Turquoise continued to accommodate between 280,000 and 350,000 IDPs who were living in 38 camps. The camp at Kibeho, along with its surrounding area, held 100,000 IDPs, and Ndago camp 60,000.21 As soon as the RPA took control of the region at the end of August, violent incidents broke out between RPF soldiers and the IDPs. Some of these displaced persons would go out of the camps in order to assassinate genocide survivors in the vicinity before returning to their base. Most of the camps in the former Zone Turquoise, especially at Kibeho, were controlled

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by groups still committed to the genocidal project. These gangs recruited and provided military training inside the camps and prevented other IDPs from leaving.22 This armed opposition was to end nine months later in an especially violent manner during the massacre at Kibeho camp. The Powder Keg of the Refugee Camps

Refugee camps outside the country made up the third zone and were outside of RPF control. On 21 August 1994, the departure of French soldiers from Zone Turquoise set off the last large exodus of border-crossing refugees. During this period, their number reached approximately 1,800,000, shared among the various camps in Burundi, Tanzania, and Zaire.23 International audiences were especially struck by televised images of the human flow crossing the border into Zaire. In the space of only five days, from 14 to 18 July, around 850,000 persons entered the town of Goma and its surrounding region. In the course of the following month, around 50,000 refugees died from cholera, dysentery, dehydration, or from acts of violence committed by other refugees. Toward the end of July, the outbreak of cholera and the end of fighting in Rwanda prompted the spontaneous return of around 100,000 refugees from Zaire.24 In contrast, the outflow of refugees to Burundi and Tanzania, smaller than to Zaire, was better managed and posed no major problems except in terms of damage to the environment and its impact on local populations. The refugee crisis in Goma led to unprecedented mobilization of humanitarian agencies and the media. Although this effort allowed the rapid provision of aid to the refugees, it also distorted the significance of the Rwandan crisis. The crisis engendered by the genocide was presented by the international media as a humanitarian catastrophe centered on the question of refugees. Unprecedented Media Interest and Humanitarian Mobilization Scenes of large numbers of refugees reaching Zaire were broadcast live on television in the major world capitals. A forest of satellite antennas was erected at Goma’s airport, and there were said to be more than five hundred journalists and media technicians in the region by the end of July.25 Between mid-July and mid-August 1994, this media frenzy meant that the refugee crisis often made the main headlines of international television newscasts. By way of contrast, the all-out genocide against Tutsis, which had begun on 7 April 1994, proved of only marginal interest to the media and public opinion in the outside world (Figure 5.1). The first peak in


In the Wake of Catastrophe

Figure 5.1 International Print Media Coverage of Rwanda in 1994 International Print Media Coverage of Rwanda in 1994 Stories/Week 1,000 800 600 400 200 0













Source: UK Disaster Emergency Committee, in David Millwood, The International Response to Conflict and Genocide, Study 3, p. 143.

media attention on Rwanda appeared in the third week of April 1994 and involved the first influx of refugees into Tanzania (especially to the Benaco camp). The second peak in interest, at the beginning of August 1994, was triggered by the outbreak of cholera in Goma. For nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), especially those dependent on private funding, it was a question of “being there or ceasing to exist,” with all the competition and parading of logos in front of the cameras that occurred as a result. The extraordinary media interest succeeded in mobilizing huge amounts of money in record time, which enabled a rapid containment of the humanitarian crisis, especially by reducing the number of victims of the cholera epidemic in Goma. Mobilization of resources thus closely followed the rise in intensity of media coverage accorded to the crisis. Between April and December 1994, the international community’s response to the humanitarian refugee crisis cost almost $1.29 billion. This figure takes neither NGO contributions nor the cost of the military intervention and its contribution to the humanitarian activity itself fully into account. Referring to the period between July and September 1994, several humanitarian workers explained that “the tap has been turned full on,” and so it was then possible “to do anything.”26 But only 35 percent of the humanitarian aid supposedly spent on Rwanda between January and

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December 1994 actually went to Rwanda itself. The remaining 65 percent was allocated to the refugee camps.27 The diversion of attention away from what was happening in Rwanda may be explained by the fact that, from the very start, the genocide was presented by the international press as a tribal war in a small country in the heart of Africa. This type of explanation left little room for possible action and aroused feelings of helplessness and horror in the Western public that editors seemed not to want to encourage.28 The refugee crisis served as a sort of humanitarian escape valve for dealing with this incomprehension, but by avoiding taking a responsible stand on the genocide issue, this humanitarian approach soon found itself trapped in an alliance with the genocidal political and military forces that controlled the refugee camps. The Genocidal Forces in Control of the Refugee Camps Several days before the fall of Gisenyi on 19 July 1994, FAR units began to cross the border in orderly fashion and move toward Goma in Zaire. Many of these soldiers crossed the border in buses and trucks, some of which carried heavy artillery, and set up near the civilian refugee camps.29 These soldiers initially turned up out of uniform at the refugee camps to receive food and other supplies. In addition, several NGOs did not hesitate to supply the military camps directly, in the name of neutrality of humanitarian assistance.30 A political and administrative structure based on a network of local officials, such as that which had previously functioned inside Rwanda, was quickly put in place in the camps. It included Interahamwe militiamen and was headed by soldiers. Certain members of this unconcealed structure were hired by some NGOs and other humanitarian agencies. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as well as many NGOs, fed the ex-FAR soldiers, militias, and political leaders of the socalled Hutu-power coalition, thereby indirectly supporting the takeover of the camps by this genocidal structure. A survey carried out in one camp during these early months estimated that 4,000 persons had been killed by acts of violence inflicted by refugees, or by undisciplined Zairean soldiers, on other refugees. Many NGOs considered withdrawing but, like UNHCR, came to the conclusion that their mandates and humanitarian principles meant that withdrawal was out of the question.31 In November 1994, fifteen large NGOs operating in North Kivu signed a declaration warning UNHCR that they would withdraw from the camps if immediate and decisive measures were not taken to protect refugees and aid workers. Ultimately, despite UNHCR’s inaction, only Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) withdrew from Goma. Its president declared that “the administration of the camps is a faithful reconstruction of the one


In the Wake of Catastrophe

that oversaw the genocide. The ‘police’ and ‘justice’ are in the hands of that same administration, and they use the same threats, extortion, summary executions, and crowd manipulation.”32 This administrative structure within the camps prevented refugees from returning to Rwanda through intimidation and political conditioning. Even before their exile, the génocidaires (those who committed genocide) had incited and often forced people to flee, telling them that if they remained, they would be killed by the RPF. This approach continued while the camps were being established, even before rumors of violent reprisals by members of the RPF began to circulate.33 The ex-FAR soldiers and the militia had a free hand in reorganizing and setting up camp close to the border with Rwanda.34 At the UN Security Council, the various options considered for defusing this powder keg failed for lack of commitment by the member states. The Security Council ended up delegating its responsibility to UNHCR, which negotiated an agreement to guard the camps with the government of Zaire. In March 1995, a contingent of the Zairean Presidential Guard, paid and equipped by UNHCR, managed to reduce the level of violence in the camps but did nothing to challenge the hold the genocidal forces had over them. The international community’s lack of commitment meant that it was blind to the explosive nature of the situation developing in the camps. And yet, the chief of staff of the ex-FAR was clear about this when he explained to the New York Times in August 1994 that he had 15,000 men regrouping in Zaire but that “we’re not yet ready to resume the fighting. . . . We’re going to wait until we’ve gathered together all the means we need.”35 Disarming the genocidal forces had ultimately no chance of success. In 1994, the host country, Zaire, was doing just the opposite by rearming them with the support of a major power, France, a permanent member of the Security Council.36 Less than a year later, the camps in North and South Kivu had become bases for resurrection of the extremist Hutu movement in Zaire. They served as a launching pad for the violent destabilization of Rwanda, which in turn provoked a continental war in Zaire with disastrous human consequences. The International Community Abandons Rwanda On 21 April 1994, at the point when the genocide was intensifying throughout the country, the Security Council unanimously agreed to withdraw 2,500 men from its peacekeeping force in Rwanda, leaving only a symbolic contingent of 270 men. From the first few hours of the genocide, the United States, Belgium, and, in particular, France knew that the extermination of the Tutsis had begun.37 The international community had in truth just given a “green light for the genocide.”38

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The main parties behind the abandonment of Rwanda to the genocidal forces were France, the United Nations, the United States, and Belgium. Except in the case of France, whose geostrategic motives were deeply rooted, what was striking about it was the casual attitude with which decisionmakers in these countries set about ordering the international retreat. The United Nations

The United Nations became involved with the Rwandan conflict in October 1993 through the creation of UNAMIR. This peacekeeping mission of 2,548 military personnel was meant to facilitate implementation of the Arusha Accords, signed a few months earlier between the two Rwandan protagonists. These agreements sought to end the civil war set in motion by the RPF on 1 October 1990. UNAMIR’s mandate, authorized by a Security Council resolution based on Chapter VI of the UN Charter, allowed it to use force only in situations of legitimate self-defense, which was totally inadequate in light of the seriousness of the situation that the UN mission was supposed to stabilize. One week before adoption of the resolution that created UNAMIR, the special rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights wrote a report depicting a very bleak political and security situation. Included in that report was mention of the possibility that the massacres and other violations of human rights perpetrated against the Tutsis since October 1990 might be considered genocide. Likewise, the missions that preceded the creation of UNAMIR bore witness to the radicalization of the internal political situation, with the rise of militias, the creation of Radio des Milles Collines, and the formation of Hutu-power factions. Despite this, UNAMIR was conceived in a climate of optimism as a peacekeeping operation between protagonists that had agreed on a peace process in good faith. Out of ignorance of the Rwandan context, but even more because the main donors for the peacekeeping mission showed so little interest in Rwanda, the mission was given a weak mandate. In terms of its capacity, it was provided few human or material resources, both in terms of quantity and quality. The Belgian contingent of 450 troops was the exception to this lack of equipment and trained soldiers. On 21 April 1994, at the time when the genocide was reaching its peak throughout the country following withdrawal of the Belgian contingent from UNAMIR, the Security Council voted unanimously to reduce the number of troops to 270 men. The mission of this remnant force was to serve as an intermediary in the negotiation of a ceasefire between the RPF and government forces. Until the end of the genocide, UNAMIR I gave priority to promoting a ceasefire between the belligerents over stopping the killing. From this point of view, there was a convergence between the perpetrators of the genocide and UNAMIR against the RPF position. This


In the Wake of Catastrophe

demanded putting a stop to the massacres before any ceasefire, while the interim government and the government forces demanded a ceasefire before stopping the massacres. One week after the vote to reduce the number of UN soldiers, SecretaryGeneral Boutros Boutros-Ghali apparently made a U-turn. He admitted in a declaration that the resolution reducing the number of peacekeepers was only concerned with the civil war but left the question of the massacres open. He started to advocate a more vigorous and proactive intervention aimed at stopping the massacres while “obscuring the fact that it was the government that was directing the genocide” and “lending his credibility to a deliberately inaccurate account of the slaughter disseminated by certain representatives of France and by the interim government of Rwanda itself.”39 On 17 May 1994, the Security Council agreed in principle to create UNAMIR II, with 5,500 troops, using the provisions of Chapter VII of the UN Charter as the basis for its mandate, thereby allowing the use of force as necessary to carry out its mission.40 The first soldier of UNAMIR II set foot in Rwanda in mid-August 1994, well after the RPF victory and the end of the genocide. The United States

Despite the inherent shortcomings of the United Nations and the influence of France on Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali, the United States played a pivotal role in the way the United Nations responded to the crisis in Rwanda. In the spring of 1993, while President Bill Clinton’s administration was settling into office, the new secretary of defense, Les Aspin, told his services to remove Rwanda from the list of hot spots to be monitored. “If anything happens in Rwanda-Burundi,” he stated, “we don’t care. . . . The national interest of the United States is not at stake.”41 The United States subsequently maintained this line with regard to the genocide. During the creation of UNAMIR I, the United States—once one of the most insistent on carrying through the Arusha Accords—pushed within the Security Council for the establishment of “the least costly, the easiest and least dangerous” mission, whose mandate would be strictly limited to peacekeeping. By a dire coincidence, the resolution setting up UNAMIR I was adopted in New York on 5 October 1993, a day after the Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia, which saw the US army lose eighteen men on a UN peacekeeping mission led by the United States. Six months later, the murder of ten Belgian peacekeepers on 7 April 1994 was interpreted by the Clinton administration as a replay of the Battle of Mogadishu. For the US decisionmakers, allowing the peacekeepers to confront violence at that point in time would only mean repeating the incident in Somalia. They decided that the United States would not become involved.

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In a confidential message to the US administration dated 12 April 1994, Madeleine Albright, the US ambassador to the United Nations, stated that, given the relative calm then existing in Kigali and the fact that UNAMIR was not being targeted, the United Nations was not ready to take any decision on the future of UNAMIR. Albright then proposed that the United Nations should take the initiative and withdraw its main force from Rwanda, leaving only a minimal structure that might later facilitate implementation of a ceasefire and further political negotiations.42 By the end of April 1994, Susan Rice, a member of the US National Security Council, raised the question of the likely consequences for the congressional elections seven months later if the United States used the term “genocide” to characterize what was happening in Rwanda without at the same time giving the impression of helping.43 On 1 May 1994, in a note to the secretary of defense, the US State Department’s legal services warned against any recognition of genocide in Rwanda because that would in effect oblige the US government to intervene. A confidential State Department note dated 16 May 1994 did recognize the legal qualification of “genocide” for the massacres then taking place in Rwanda.44 The next day, the US representative on the UN Security Council, Albright, demanded, nonetheless, delaying implementation of the UNAMIR II resolution until that mission met with the requirements of the new US Presidential Decision Directive 25. Albright called in particular for a preliminary ceasefire and the agreement of all parties involved in the new UN initiative despite the fact that the United States had no intention whatsoever of playing an active part in it. The Clinton administration nevertheless promised 50 armored personnel carriers for UNAMIR II. According to the UNAMIR commander, General Romeo Dallaire, that contribution might have played an important role in freeing trapped civilians. The US army began, however, by raising the price by 50 percent and then putting multiple obstacles in the way of sending the vehicles: The time that would take had become something of a joke and, you know, there were details that kept on coming out that required a decision in order to get those damned APCs on the road. They [the bureaucrats] got lost in endless questions about the wording in the contract, the type of lettering to use on the vehicles, their color, who would paint them, where, which type of letters, their color and in all sorts of petty details.45

The vehicles finally arrived in Rwanda two months after the end of the genocide in September 1994. In fact, the US administration did everything it could to kill off UNAMIR II. Yet, from the beginning of May 1994, a number of African countries had been ready to send troops. Taking advantage of the inauguration of President Nelson Mandela on 10 May in Johannesburg, Boutros-Ghali met with the heads of state of Ghana,


In the Wake of Catastrophe

Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. All of them were ready to send contingents to reinforce UNAMIR. Ethiopia and Mali also offered to contribute.46 On 25 May, the government of Ethiopia formally agreed to send 800 soldiers, along with their equipment, all ready to go. Despite this agreement given in May, transportation for them could be found only by mid-August, more than one month after the end of the genocide.47 Meanwhile, during the same period the United States participated with no hesitation in the international efforts in favor of Rwandan refugees, with a contribution of more than $370 million―more than 25 percent of the entire humanitarian budget. A military humanitarian mission was even organized, baptized Support Hope, which was to provide logistical air support for the humanitarian work focused on Goma.48 On 25 March 1998, Clinton expressed his regrets that his country did not try to stop the genocide.49 Belgium

Following the murder of ten Belgian UNAMIR soldiers by the Rwandan army on 7 April 1994, Belgium decided to withdraw its contingent. On 11 April, a group of 100 Belgian peacekeepers who were protecting a group of 2,000 Tutsi refugees at the École Technique Officielle in Kigali was ordered to abandon them to the killers. The killing began at an entrance to the school before the Belgian soldiers had even left from another exit. The next day, 12 April, Willy Claes, the Belgian minister for foreign affairs, informed Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali of Belgium’s wish to withdraw its contingent from UNAMIR as soon as possible. The Belgian contingent, by far the best armed and equipped, numbered 450 men out of a total contingent of 2,548 soldiers for the entire mission. The withdrawal of the backbone of UNAMIR left the remainder of the military operation even less credible. When Colonel Marchal, head of the Belgian contingent, went to announce the news of the withdrawal of Belgian troops to the SecretaryGeneral’s special representative in Kigali, Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh, and his adviser, Shaharyar Khan, both reacted far from diplomatically but in a way that reflected the reality of the situation. “Just because Belgium suffered ten deaths, it doesn’t give a toss about the thousands of Africans who are going to be murdered.”50 Yet, despite the loss of their soldiers, neither Colonel Marchal nor his men were in favor of withdrawal. In Belgium, although most of the media supported the government’s decision, a survey revealed that 40 percent of those interviewed believed that “what is currently at stake in Rwanda might justify the risk of new military losses in terms of human lives, while 48 percent were in favor of maintaining the mission and even sending more Belgian soldiers in order to help restore peace.”51 Then, no sooner had it announced its decision to withdraw soldiers from Rwanda, than on 12 April 1994 Belgium began an active campaign at the United Nations and in the

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main Western capitals to obtain the withdrawal of the entire UN peacekeeping mission. This was out of “fear of losing face,” according to Claes. Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali had no trouble backing that proposal.52 At the time of the commemoration of the genocide on 7 April 2000, the prime minister of Belgium, Guy Verhofstadt, asked Rwandans to forgive Belgium for its position during the genocide.53 France

Without doubt the foreign country that provided the most support to the Habyarimana regime and the interim genocidal government that replaced it, throughout their worst excesses, was France. That support quite clearly demonstrated open hostility toward the RPF. France supported the fight against the RPF in several ways, with occasional peaks of intensity that stopped just short of direct military confrontation. France’s support for the Habyarimana regime was sustained and substantial, from the outbreak of civil war in October 1990 right up until the end of the genocide and even beyond. It took the form of institutional and operational support to the army and intelligence services, military training, provision of intelligence, diplomatic protection, strategic operational support, and supply of arms and ammunition, even while the regime was busy exterminating the Tutsi population.54 France’s influence on decisions at the Security Council during the genocide seems to have been relayed through none other than Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali.55 In June 2014, the National Security Archive at George Washington University and the Holocaust Museum’s Center for the Prevention of Genocide organized a three-day symposium on international decisionmaking with the participation of most of the Rwandan and international leaders involved at that time. During that meeting, David Hannay, the British ambassador to the United Nations, stated that if the Rwandans were essentially guilty of sins of commission during the genocide, the international community was also guilty of sins of omission.56 At the end of her account of the genocide, Alison Des Forges declared, “The Americans were interested in saving money, the Belgians were interested in saving face, and the French were interested in saving their ally, the genocidal government. . . . All of that took priority over saving lives.”57 Other than military action, a strong and concerted international condemnation at the beginning of the massacres, clearly signifying that they would not go unpunished, would have made it difficult to carry them through. In order to carry out a total genocide successfully and to believe and make others believe in the political viability of a regime resulting from genocide, the architects of the genocide needed to create unanimity about the massacres. This is the main reason eliminating the Hutu opposition was their


In the Wake of Catastrophe

first priority. In communities remote from Kigali that had begun by resisting the call to take part in the genocide, the lack of any alternative and the apparent unanimity around the genocidal agenda ended up convincing those who hesitated or dug in their heels of the futility of resisting.58 The option of the appeasement of the killers, as adopted by the international community through the intermediary of United Nations representatives in the field, contributed to creating this apparent unanimity. For its part, on 10 April 1994, the RPF proposed a joint operation with UNAMIR and the Rwandan army, with each party providing 300 men to put a stop to the killing. The RPF leaders felt that such a force would be sufficient to end the massacres, but that proposal was not implemented.59 On 30 April 1994, while the Security Council was discussing sending in UNAMIR II, RPF representatives issued a communiqué expressing their opposition to such an initiative, arguing that at that stage intervention of UN peacekeepers would no longer serve any useful purpose as far as stopping the massacres was concerned.60 Human Rights Watch condemned that opposition, saying that it would only delay deployment of UNAMIR II and therefore prevent the saving of lives.61 Because we know that any such deployment depended primarily on the goodwill of the United States, there is reason to doubt this assertion. Several years after the events, journalist Linda Melvern interviewed General Paul Kagame, head of the RPA, and asked for his reaction to the international abandonment of his country. “Recalling how women and children arrived at their bases with terrible machete wounds, he explained that the world had never appeared so pitiless and hopeless. All those who laid claim to civilized values turned their backs on us. . . . I knew then that we had to solve the problem ourselves. I began to despise those in the world who prided themselves on a superior moral authority.”62 This international desertion, which left the RPF alone with the responsibility of stopping the genocide while the international community sought to appease the killers, had far-reaching repercussions. Where strong international condemnation would have weakened the génocidaires politically and morally, this desertion prompted a heightened level of violence at the peak of the crisis. From another viewpoint, however, it provided an opportunity for the more go-it-alone elements within the RPF to come forward and take tight and almost total control over the process of exiting from the crisis and beginning reconstruction. Crimes Attributed to the RPA Several weeks after the end of the genocide, serious accusations were made against the RPA, alleging widespread and systematic massacres of Hutu

July 1994


civilians. The initial allegation of the killings by the RPA reported localized and targeted cases. Most often, they described groups of civilians accompanied by a few soldiers using knives.63 Before circulation of these rumors of executions by RPA elements, many humanitarian NGOs working in the camps already opposed the policy of rapid repatriation of refugees. They claimed there was lack of assistance for refugees in Rwanda.64 After July 1994, these NGOs repeated rumors of acts of violence against refugees who were returning to Rwanda and demanded that UNHCR investigate the allegations of massacres committed by the RPA before obliging refugees to return.65 On 20 August 1994, the newspaper Le Soir published the findings of an initial report written by Oxfam Novib, a Dutch NGO, in cooperation with one Rwandan and two Zairean associations. It included the testimony of four wounded refugees stating that they had survived the massacre of about 100 Hutus carried out by RPF soldiers.66 Under pressure from the NGOs, UNHCR ordered an investigation that was carried out by three consultants led by Robert Gersony, an American. The team had the cooperation of the RPF, which authorized it to go wherever it wanted and to question whomever it wanted. It traveled throughout the country during five weeks between August and the beginning of September 1994. At the end of its mission, Gersony’s team concluded that the RPF was guilty of the widespread and systematic killing of Hutu civilians. According to those conclusions, the RPF killed between 5,000 and 10,000 Hutus per month from the end of April to the end of July 1994, while the number of persons killed in August dropped to 5,000. The killing was concentrated in the Butare and Kibungo prefectures and in the southern and eastern parts of the province of rural Kigali.67 Gersony estimated that the RPF had killed a total of 30,000 individuals, mostly Hutus but also a few Tutsis.68 Khan, special representative of the UN Secretary-General in Rwanda, wrote in his memoir that Gersony said that in his view “these were not individual cases of revenge and summary trials, but a preplanned, systematic genocide against Hutu. . . . He felt that there were not isolated cases of revenge and summary executions, but premeditated and systematic attacks against Hutus.”69 The Gersony report has been the main source of accusations of large-scale revenge killings involving the RPA. Other sources, in particular Human Rights Watch, also made similar accusations.70 Gersony submitted his conclusions to UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata, who transmitted them to Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali, who then sent the head of the Peacekeeping Department, Kofi Annan, and Gersony to Rwanda to share that information with the Rwandan authorities. Once in Rwanda, Gersony began by briefing the UN representatives there in the presence of the UN delegation from New York. In his memoir about his experience in Rwanda, Khan wrote, “We heard out


In the Wake of Catastrophe

Gersony with horror and some disbelief, as his description ran counter not only to the government’s professed policies but to the reports that our military observers, United Nations agency field representatives, NGOs and human rights observers had been sending us.”71 The two representatives of the United Nations, accompanied by Gersony, had a meeting on 19 September 1994 with Prime Minister Faustin Twagiramungu, Minister of the Interior Seth Sendashonga, and Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Marie Vianney Ndagijmana. The Rwandan authorities admitted that some soldiers had carried out acts of revenge, but they rejected both the extent and the systematic nature described in Gersony’s allegations. They argued that it would have been impossible for the new government’s forces to kill 30,000 persons in this manner without attracting attention. The Rwandans added that it was unlikely that these soldiers would have gone around with hoes, clubs, and machetes as Gersony claimed. Without impugning Gersony’s good faith, the Rwandan officials thought that the expert had been manipulated.72 After that meeting, the delegation from New York met with other UN officials based in Rwanda, who rejected all of Gersony’s accusations.73 Brigadier General Anydoho (Deputy Force Command of UNAMIR) and Colonel Tikoca (Chief of the Military Observers) agreed that the incidence of revenge killings was higher in areas where the United Nations and NGOs were sparsely represented (e.g., Kibungo and on the Tanzanian border). However, they rejected the contention that 30,000 Hutus had been massacred by the RPA in a systematic, organized campaign. They added that several journalists had published such “sensationalist” reports, but when Observers had examined the evidence in detail, the evidence had invariably been found to be highly exaggerated and incorrect. They were convinced that Gersony had been subjected to such planted and dramatized evidence.

Charles Petrie, deputy director of the UN Rwanda Emergency Office (UNREO), had visited the area recently and had heard rumors of massacres. He had, therefore, carried out a careful investigation with NGOs operating in the region. Petrie rejected the conclusion that there had been systematic, preordained massacres by the RPA. The following day, 20 September, Kofi Annan and I visited several sites in the border region (Gisenyi region). This zone is adjacent to the Zaire border and was a stronghold of the former government. The UN is well represented in the area. Without referring to the Gersony findings, Mr. Annan asked the UN blue berets (doctors, engineers, etc.) about the treatment of Hutus returning to the region. The blue berets replied that 80 percent of Hutu farmers from the region who had left in panic had returned. They were absorbed well and well treated by the new RPA administration both civil and military. Their return was smooth and peaceful. Kofi Annan then inquired about an alleged massacre in a village which had been pinpointed

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by Gersony. The UN major (an Australian doctor) replied that he too had heard of rumors of a massacre in the village and had gone down to investigate. He found that in fact a massacre had taken place in late July (after formation of the new government), but it had been commissioned by a rabid Hutu extremist mayor who had been operating in the humanitarian protected zone even in late July, as there were pockets of territory still under the control of the former government. Eventually, when the RPA took over, the mayor fled to Zaire, but several of his henchmen had been apprehended.74

In his book, Khan, commenting on this finding, noted that Gersony’s description of events turned out to be correct, except that the ethnic identities of the perpetrators of the killings and of the victims had been inverted.75 Khan described how he checked Gersony’s allegations. Later in September, I visited a team of US and Canadian doctors operating near Kibungo from the region that Gersony had identified as the massacre “belt.” The doctors told me that they could tell from the treatment of their patients that the killings had subsided and had been replaced by relative calm. During the April–July period, they had treated patients with fresh wounds made by machetes and the like. Now their patients were coming in not with wounds, but with post-conflict ailments like dysentery and diarrhea. There were practically no patients with fresh wounds.76

In conclusion, he admitted that, in the region of Kibungo and the southern border region, his own investigations had revealed that there were more acts of revenge killing than elsewhere, which could have implicated more civilians and higher-ranking RPA officers than the more isolated acts of vengeance identified elsewhere. Nevertheless, he did not “accept Gersony’s conclusion that the killings were part of a preordained, systematic massacre ordered from the top.”77 In that same period, Prudence Bushnell, the US deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs, was in the region. She also checked the facts in Gersony’s claims but only at the border with Burundi―a region on which Gersony’s team focused because of the supposed intensity of the crimes reportedly committed there. That attempt at verification also proved unsuccessful.78 A few days later, UNAMIR carried out more systematic searches without any success. Journalist Alain Frilet reported: Certain elements were given by the United Nations to the commander of the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR) for verification. No mass grave was found. A platoon from the Canadian contingent in Rwanda was sent to the field in Kibungo prefecture in the south-east of the country, where it visited several locations where massacres had been said by UNHCR to have taken place. Upon its return on 18 October, after three weeks of checking, the peacekeepers stated that they had found none of the mass graves mentioned by UNHCR and were unable to find any witness


In the Wake of Catastrophe to those massacres. “We were told of the existence of a mass grave on the outskirts of Rwamagana, in which, according to witness reports gathered by UNHCR, the bodies of some 100 Hutu civilians massacred by the RPA could be found,” one of the officers responsible for the expedition said. “We found the grave, but, according to several witnesses, soldiers of the Rwandan Patriotic Army had not yet gained control of this region at the date given by UNHCR for this massacre.”79

In December 1994, the expert commission set up by the UN Security Council to investigate the massacres and killings that had been committed in Rwanda published its final report. In its conclusions, the commission confirmed the existence of abundant evidence showing without any shadow of doubt that a genocide of Tutsis had been committed by Hutus.80 Regarding crimes attributable to the RPA, the commission explained that at the time it had completed its preliminary report, it had received information alleging that killings had been committed between August and the beginning of September 1994. The UN secretary-general had then asked it to investigate those reports.81 On its second mission to Rwanda, the commission made a special effort to verify the allegations of atrocities committed by the new government for its final report: For its own part, the commission was unable, owing to a lack of time, to uncover any evidence to indicate that Tutsi elements perpetrated acts committed with intent to destroy the Hutu ethnic group as such within the meaning of the 1948 Genocide Convention. Nor could the commission find evidence to indicate that killings of Hutus perpetrated by a number of individual RPA soldiers were systematic or were sponsored or even approved of, by Government officials or army commanders.82

In its discussions with the vice president and minister of defense at that time, the commission learned that around seventy RPA soldiers, including three officers, had been arrested for acts of revenge and were to be brought to trial.83 Cases of executions of soldiers found guilty by the RPA of acts of revenge had been reported. The RPA military police arrested about 100 soldiers for acts of revenge in October 1994, acts that were committed primarily by survivors of the genocide and by RPA soldiers who could themselves have survived the genocide. In October 1994, Boutros-Ghali asked Gersony to share his conclusions with the UN Commission for Human Rights, which in its turn queried them. The United Nations ended up asking Gersony and his colleagues not to publish their report and never to speak of their investigation. Gersony complied with these instructions. UNHCR put an end to its policy of encouraging the return of refugees. Gersony’s investigation helped bring an end to the process of repatriating refugees but also to the reestablishment of

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good relations between part of the international humanitarian community and the RPF, notably those NGOs working in the camps. Notes

1. Human Rights Watch estimated the number of Tutsis killed at 507,000, which, according to its data, was 77 percent of the Tutsi population that lived in Rwanda. Alison Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda (New York/Paris: Human Rights Watch/International Federation of Human Rights, 1999), p. 15. Gérard Prunier estimated the number of Tutsis killed at 800,000, the number of survivors at 130,000, and the number of Hutus in opposition killed between 10,000 and 30,000. Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide (London: Hurst, 1995), pp. 261 and 265. The Rwandan Ministry for Local Administration and Social Affairs published the results of a census of victims: 1,074,017 victims were declared dead and 934,218 counted. Republic of Rwanda, Ministry for Local Administration and Social Affairs, Office for Planning, Dénombrement des victimes du génocide (Kigali: Republic of Rwanda, March 2001). See also Jean-Paul Kimonyo, Rwanda’s Popular Genocide: A Perfect Storm (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2016). 2. Most of these estimates take as their baseline the 1991 general population census, which counted 596,400 Tutsis, that is, 8.4 percent of the total population. The detailed study based on local data by Marijke Verpoorten on the number of Tutsis in Gikongoro prefecture confirms the widespread belief that the number of Tutsis had been underestimated. The general census recorded a proportion of the Tutsi population in Gikongoro of 12.8 percent, but local data showed a proportion for Tutsis of at minimum 17.5 percent. Verpoorten, “The Death Toll of the Rwandan Genocide: A Detailed Analysis for Gikongoro Province,” Population 4 (2005), pp. 331–367; Republic of Rwanda, Census Service, Recensement général de la population et de l’habitat au 15 août 1991 (Kigali: Republic of Rwanda, December 1992). 3. This is in reference to article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, which in its definition of genocide focuses on “the intention to destroy, totally or in part,” various groups. See Robert Melson, “Modern Genocide in Rwanda: Ideology, Revolution, War, and Mass Murder in an African State,” in The Specter of Genocide: Mass Murder in Historical Perspective, edited by Robert Gellately and Ben Kiernan (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 325–383. 4. The local Gacaca tribunals tried 361,590 cases in the second category of crime, made up of those who killed directly and their direct accomplices, and 53,426 cases in the first category of crime, by those who were in a position of authority. But one person could be charged in several cases, which makes any assessment of the overall number of people sentenced difficult. In Rwandapedia (, Scott Straus estimates the number of those who took a direct, physical part in the killings as between 175,000 and 200,000. Straus’s estimates do not take into account all those who contributed significantly to the intensity of the massacres by physically controlling the victims. Straus, “How Many Perpetrators Were There in the Rwandan Genocide? An Estimate,” Journal of Genocide Research 6, no. 1 (March 2004): 85–98. 5. For a description of the popular participation, its forms, and its motivations, see Kimonyo, Rwanda’s Popular Genocide; Jean Hartzfeld, Une saison de machettes (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 2003).


In the Wake of Catastrophe

6. Filip Reyntjens, “Subjects of Concern: Rwanda, October 1994,” Issue: A Journal of Opinion 23, no. 2 (1995): 39. 7. The Interahamwe were initially young members of the National Revolutionary Movement for Development (MRND), the former state-sponsored party. This term was later used to refer to various militias and groups carrying out the massacres. 8. The political cadres of the Abakada movement were full-time agents who had received basic political and military training and who formed the organizational backbone of the RPF. Their main function was to mobilize and manage communities that had rallied to the RPF. They were mobilizers, recruiters, administrators, and logistics managers. Also, during the most critical military phases, a certain number of them served as combatants. 9. Before the genocide, 37.5 percent of the population of the commune of Gishyita was Tutsi; 11,273 were killed, namely 70 percent of that community. Philip Verwimp, “Death and Survival During the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda,” Population Studies 58, no. 2 (2004): 233–245. 10. Chris McGreal, “Town Whose Senses Are Dead to Slaughter,” Guardian, 7 July 1994. 11. David Millwood, ed., The International Response to Conflict and Genocide: Lessons from the Rwanda Experience, Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda, Study 3: “Humanitarian Aid and Effects,” March 1996. 12. Operation Turquoise was authorized even though the United Nations had created the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda II (UNAMIR II) a few weeks earlier, which was to intervene in Rwanda under the provisions of Chapter VII of the UN Charter for the use of force to stop the genocide and protect civilians. 13. Edouard Balladur, testimony to République française, Assemblée nationale, “Rapport de la Mission d’information parlementaire sur le Rwanda,” no. 1271, 15 December 1998, Auditions, p. 106. 14. See Republic of Rwanda, “Rapport Mucyo,” Commission nationale indépendente chargée de rassembler les preuves de l’implication de l’État français dans le génocide perpetué au Rwanda en 1994 (Kigali: Republic of Rwanda, November 2007), pp. 191–192. 15. Raymond Bonner, “‘We Don’t Have Orders to Disarm Militias’: Fear Is Still Pervasive in Rwanda Countryside,” New York Times, 29 June 1994; Laure de Vulpian and Thierry Prungnaud, Silence Turquoise (Paris: Don Quichotte, 2012); Vincent Hugeux, “Les oubliés de Bisesero,” L’Express, 30 June 1994, p. 42. 16. See Republic of Rwanda, “Rapport Mucyo.” 17. Human Rights Watch, Rearming with Impunity: International Support for the Perpetrators of the Rwandan Genocide 7, no. 4 (May 1995), /legacy/reports/1995/Rwanda1.htm. 18. Radio-Télévision Libre des Milles Collines was the means of expression used by Hutu extremists to broadcast incitement to commit genocide. Radio Rwanda was the former government’s radio station. 19. Lindsey Hilsum, “Hutu Ideology Justifies Genocide of Tutsi as Preventive Ethnic Medicine,” Guardian, 11 July 1994. 20. Millwood, The International Response to Conflict and Genocide, Study 3, p. 50. 21. Ibid., p. 51. 22. David Millwood, ed., The International Response to Conflict and Genocide: Lessons from the Rwanda Experience, Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda, Study 2: “Early Warning and Conflict Management,” March 1996, p. 97, n. 132.

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23. Estimates of the number of refugees in Zaire and Tanzania were exaggerated by humanitarian organizations by as much as 40 percent. Millwood, The International Response to Conflict and Genocide, Study 3, pp. 128–129. 24. Ibid, p. 53. 25. Ibid, p. 43. Reported by Ray Wilkinson, UNHCR Public Information Officer, Goma. 26. Millwood, The International Response to Conflict and Genocide, Study 3, p. 144. 27. Ibid, p. 29, figure 2. 28. C. C., interview with author, 8 February 2016, Kigali. 29. Chris McGreal, “Remnants of a Beaten Army Enter Zaire,” Guardian, 18 July 1994. 30. Andy Storey, “Non-Neutral Humanitarianism: NGOs and the Rwanda Crisis,” Development in Practice 7, no. 4 (November 1997): 384–390. 31. Organization of African Unity (OAU), OAU Report Regarding the Rwandan Genocide, May 2000, p. 195. 32. Quoted in Patrick de Saint-Exupéry, L’inavouable, la France au Rwanda (Paris: Les Arènes, 2004), p. 143. 33. Raymond Bonner, “Army Routed from Rwanda Now Intimidates Its Refugees,” New York Times, 1 August 1994. 34. International conventions require that refugee camps be located not less than 50 kilometers from an international border, and, for soldiers to be considered refugees, they must be disarmed and placed in a camp not less than 120 kilometers from a border. 35. Bonner, “Army Routed from Rwanda.” 36. “. . . to President Mobutu have played a pivotal role in facilitating the reemergence as a powerful military force of those directly implicated in the Rwandan genocide. Behind Zaire stands France, a former colonial ruler in Africa that continues to wield enormous economic, political, and military power on the continent.” Human Rights Watch, Rearming with Impunity. 37. “We had a very good sense of what was taking place.” Joyce Leader, US deputy chief of mission at the time, quoted in Colum Lynch, “Exclusive: Rwanda Revisited,” Foreign Policy, 5 April 2015; Sénat de Belgique, Rapport fait au nom de la commission d’enquête par Messieurs Mahox and Verhofstad, 6 December 1997. 38. Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, which, with the Holocaust Museum’s Center for the Prevention of Genocide, organized in June 2014 a symposium on international decisionmaking in dealing with the genocide in Rwanda. Mark Lander, “Declassified United Nations Cables Reveal Turning Point in Rwanda Crisis of 1994,” New York Times, 3 June 2014. 39. Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story, p. 637. 40. On 25 May 1994, the government of Ethiopia agreed to provide 800 soldiers, but transportation was not found until mid-August. African Rights, Rwanda: Death, Despair, and Defiance (London: African Rights, 1995), p. 1130. 41. James Woods, assistant deputy secretary for defense, 1986–1994, quoted on Frontline, “The Triumph of Evil,” PBS, 26 January 1999, /frontline/shows/evil/etc/script.html/. 42. US State Department, Unclassified Case No. F-2014-01300, Doc No. 005517345, 26 March 2014. 43. “Rice does not recall the incident, but concedes, ‘If I said it, it was completely inappropriate, as well as irrelevant.’” Quoted in Samantha Power, “Bystanders to Genocide: Why the United States Let the Rwandan Tragedy Happen,” Atlantic Monthly (September 2001): 84–108.


In the Wake of Catastrophe

44. Department of State, Office of the Legal Adviser, Draft Legal Analysis, drafted by Assistant Legal Adviser for African Affairs Joan Donoghue, 16 May 1994, www 45. Woods, quoted on Frontline, 26 January 1999. 46. Organization of African Unity, Rwanda: The Preventable Genocide, p. 141, 47. Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story, p. 1130. 48. Millwood, The International Response to Conflict and Genocide, Study 3, p. 43. 49. CBS News, “Text of Clinton’s Rwanda Speech,” 25 March 1998, www.cbsnews .com/news/text_of_clintons_rwanda_speech/. 50. Sénat de Belgique, Rapport de la Commission d’enquête parlementaire concernant les événements au Rwanda, 1997. 51. Ibid. 52. Ibid. 53. Colette Braeckman, “Au nom de mon pays je vous demande pardon, Verhofstadt,” Le Soir, 8 April 2000. 54. France, National Assembly, Rapport de la Mission d’information parlementaire sur le Rwanda. Despite its polemical tone, Jacques Morel’s book is the best documented on involvement of France in Rwanda between October 1990 and July 1994. Morel, La France au cœur du génocide des Tutsi (Paris: L’Esprit Frappeur, 2010). 55. Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story, p. 637; Linda Melvern, A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda’s Genocide (London: Zed Books, 2000). 56. Lynch, “Exclusive: Rwanda Revisited.” 57. Human Rights Watch, “Rwandan Genocide Could Have Been Stopped,” 31 March 1999, -been-stopped. 58. “It ties the expansion of the killing campaign to early international inertia, and it shows that international protests against the slaughter, when they finally came, were discussed even at local meetings on the distant hills of Rwanda.” Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story, p. 3; see also Kimonyo, Rwanda’s Popular Genocide, pp. 351, 455, 481. 59. J. R. interview, 15 June 2015. 60. Gerald Gahima and Claude Dusaidi, “Statement by the Political Bureau of the Rwandese Patriotic Front on the Proposed Deployment of a U.N. Intervention Force in Rwanda,” 30 April 1994. 61. Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story, pp. 699–701. 62. Melvern, A People Betrayed, p. 189. 63. Raymond Bonner, “Rwandans Say the Victors Kill Many Who Go Back,” New York Times, 5 August 1994; Lindsey Hilsum, “RPF Troops Kill Hutus on Their Way Home,” Guardian, 5 August 1994. 64. “Foreign aid workers have challenged the United Nations effort to persuade the estimated one million Rwandan refugees in Zaire to go home, saying they would be returning to food shortages and lack of assistance.” Chris McGreal, “Aid Chief Attacks Call for Return to Rwanda,” Guardian, 5 August 1994. 65. “As doubts continue about the wisdom of encouraging refugees to go home, a routine, even an inertia that inevitably sets in after a lot of money and resources have been spent in establishing camps, is setting in here.” Jane Perlez, “Rwanda Camps: Long-Term Refuge?” New York Times, 6 August 1994. 66. Colette Braeckman, “Des représailles du RPF? Un premier rapport accablant,” Le Soir, 20 August 1994.

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67. Robert Gersony never wrote a full report of his mission because he had been prevented by UNHCR after unsuccessful checks on information he had provided. He himself confided to Gérard Prunier that―rather surprisingly, in that an expanded version would have supported his conclusions, given the controversy―he did not write a complete report because he knew that it would never be published. He wrote a summary that contains the essential conclusions. An apparently authentic version of this summary submitted to the Commission of Experts of the UN Human Rights Commission was later distributed by a defense attorney with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and posted on the Internet. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, “Summary of UNHCR Presentation Before Commission of Experts, 10 October 1994: Prospects for Early Repatriation of Rwandan Refugees Currently in Burundi, Tanzania, and Zaire.” 68. Shaharyar M. Khan, cable on the Gersony report, United Nations, 14 October 1994, /HASHc166/6f755cde.dir/doc84106/. 69. Ibid. 70. Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story, pp. 702–735. 71. Shaharyan M. Khan, The Shallow Graves of Rwanda (New York: I. B. Tauris, 2001), p. 52. 72. Khan, cable on the Gersony report. 73. Ibid. 74. Ibid. 75. Khan, The Shallow Graves of Rwanda, p. 53. 76. Ibid., p. 54. 77. Ibid., p. 55. 78. Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story, p. 729. 79. Alain Frilet, “Polémiques sur les représailles rwandaises,” Libération, 27 October 1994. 80. United Nations Security Council, Final Report of the Commission of Experts, S/1994/1405, 4 December 1994, p. 52. 81. Ibid., p. 30. 82. United Nations, Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 11 November 1994, p. 12. 83. Ibid.

6 Between War and Peace

Formation of the “government of national unity” on 19 July 1994 inaugurated the period of official political transition, which was originally intended to last for five years but was later extended until 2003. This period of transition was extremely rich in events that would give rise to a new Rwanda. This period can be divided into two very distinct parts. The first, the focus of this chapter, from 1994 to 1999, saw birth pains in the form of a bitter military and political struggle and an emerging new national order. It was during this period that the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) reunited the country. While the military confrontation took place in Zaire and the periphery of the country, political and ethnic dissension played itself out within the government of coalition and ended in a first rupture. Challenged Legitimacy of the Government of National Unity In July 1994, the RPF defeated the genocidal forces and a tense atmosphere set in between it and the international community. It had also forced the French forces to leave the country before the deadline set by the UN resolution that had authorized their deployment. Beginning in July 1994, the party’s leaders debated internally how to form a government based on one of three possible alternatives: to govern alone, to govern in association with prominent individuals, or by respecting the Arusha Accords signed prior to the genocide, which provided for power sharing among political parties. The RPF chose the latter.1 On 17 July, the RPF solemnly took on the historic responsibility of forming a new government. This government of national unity was to be a political coalition based on the Arusha Accords, signed on 4 August 1993, 123


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along with several important modifications. The modifications included exclusion of the National Revolutionary Movement for Development (MRND)—a signatory of the Arusha Accords—along with Hutu-power factions in other parties because of the preponderant role that these entities had played in organizing and carrying out the genocide. The RPF reserved for itself the posts that the Arusha Accords granted to the MRND, namely the presidency and five additional ministerial posts. Other important modifications were the creation of the position of vice president, which was to go to the RPF, and extension of the period of transition from 22 months to five years.2 In addition, the RPF placed a moratorium on political parties’ mass mobilization activities. Political parties were authorized to function only at the level of their central governing bodies, which, in most cases, meant the political bureau based in Kigali. The transitional government of national unity officially took office on 19 July 1994. Pasteur Bizimungu was declared president of the republic, with General Paul Kagame as vice president and minister of defense. Both were members of the RPF. Faustin Twagiramungu of the Republican Democratic Movement (MDR) was named prime minister.3 With eight RPF ministers out of a total of 21 that composed the government plus the president and the vice president—the second party, the MDR, having four—the new government was clearly dominated by the RPF. Government of National Unity and Integration of Ex-FAR Soldiers

At the end of 1994, approximately 2,000 ex-FAR soldiers, some coming from Zaire, voluntarily joined the new army. These soldiers were put in the Gako camp to follow a program of reeducation and training in RPA methods. Out of this number, 1,011 men, including 81 officers, were later officially integrated into the RPA in January 1995. A number of important exFAR officers were assigned considerable responsibility in the RPA. Colonel Déogratias Ndibwami became the chief of staff of the gendarmerie, Colonel Marcel Gatsinzi was named deputy chief of staff of the RPA, Colonel Balthazar Ndengeyinka assumed the command of the 305th Brigade, Lieutenant Colonel Laurent Munyakazi assumed that of the 99th Battalion, and Lieutenant Colonel Emmanuel Habyarimana became representative of the RPA in parliament as well as director of training in the Ministry of Defense. The coming together of the two factions symbolized the routine use of the formula in Kinyarwanda of “government of the unity of Rwandans” by the administration and the population. That would not prevent, however, some of the RPF’s partners in the government from questioning its legitimacy or one part of the international community from maintaining evident hostility toward it.

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Internal Dissensions

Less than four months after the formation of the government, the MDR, the second most important party in the government, published a scathing denunciation, making an extremely critical indictment of the RPF and touching on almost all aspects of the country’s public life.4 At the political level, the MDR challenged the RPF Declaration of 17 July and the modifications to the Arusha Accords that it introduced. The MDR complained, for instance, about the RPF’s monopolizing of posts previously assigned to the MRND, extension of the transition from 22 months to five years, and the freezing of the political parties’ mobilization activities. The MDR denounced “the pressure of occult powers determined to silence the political parties in this country and to prevent any electoral consultation.” Defending the role played by the political parties in the country’s democratization, it stated that “the political parties must quickly recover their right to expression and resume their activities throughout the country.”5 By demanding immediate restoration of competition among political parties, the MDR document glossed over the political complexities of the genocide. It barely mentioned the participation of a large part of the political class—and of a non-negligible part of local populations, including of the majority faction of the MDR—by restricting those responsible for the massacres to “MRND and its acolytes” alone.6 The absence of any party self-criticism, the reprise without question of the historically loaded MDR name, and the desire to resume the mass mobilization activities of the parties just after what had happened raised suspicion among those who did not share the MDR’s line of reasoning. Many RPF supporters saw only a continuation of the MDR ideology based on its sectarian notion of the Hutu “majority people” and its willingness to use electoral competition in order to restore a regime based on ethnic identity as soon as possible.7 Four months after the genocide and the civil war that accompanied it, the MDR document strongly denounced the government of which it was part. It decried the shortcomings in public administration, justice, and the level of economic activity and the slowness in repatriating refugees. In addition, the MDR called for “an international investigation into what part of international opinion referred to as ‘the double genocide’ committed in Rwanda.”8 Although not showing the same aggression toward the RPF as the MDR, other political formations in the government quietly followed the MDR’s lead. This tension between the RPF and its partners occurred at the time of preparations for forming the transitional parliament. With the support of certain embassies, several political parties demanded a return purely and simply to the letter of the Arusha Accords and challenged the RPF Declaration of 17 July, justifying that position by the fact that they had not signed it. Given formal notice by the RPF either to participate in the institutions of transition


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or to leave them, the RPF’s partner parties eventually obliged, and the transitional parliament was formed on 25 November 1994. The questions of elections and renewal of competition among political parties were very present in people’s thoughts, instilling fear and uncertainty about the prospects of sustainable peace. In August 1994, a survivor of the genocide questioned her brother, José Kagabo, a former refugee, who had returned from France, whom she took to be a member of the RPF, asking him the question: “But José, are you going to impose elections on us? Tell me, because if you do that, I’m leaving. There’s no point in my staying in this country. Who’s going to vote? For whom?”9 Antagonism with the International Community Starting in September 1994, the presence of the international community in Rwanda grew in importance and was particularly visible because of the numerous expensive vehicles in a devastated country. At the end of August 1994, the contingent of 5,000 troops of the UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda II (UNAMIR II) was fully deployed. In October 1994, 130 international NGOs were present in Rwanda, without counting the tens of foreigner UN officials whose presence was to be reinforced in September 1994 by approximately 200 others belonging to the UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda. Between April and December 1994, the international community focused on humanitarian activities in the form of medical care, food, and shelter, provided primarily to refugees living outside the country and to those displaced from the former Zone Turquoise. In addition, international attention began to turn toward rehabilitation and reconstruction activities inside the country beginning in September 1994. The first phase of emergency rehabilitation, which lasted until December 1995, was led by the UN agencies along with other bilateral and multilateral aid agencies. NGOs also made a valuable contribution. This first phase was generously and quickly financed, primarily through the UN Consolidated Appeal for Rwanda, held in January 1995, even though these funds were only nominally for activities of urgent humanitarian aid. Rehabilitation activities touched all sectors, including agriculture, the health system, the education system to a limited extent, the judicial system, social-psychological support, and more. These efforts allowed, for example, rapid reestablishment of the water supply in towns, thus preventing large-scale cholera and dysentery epidemics. Distributions of seeds and farming equipment helped small farmers to begin to stand on their own, while aid for economic recovery served to reinvigorate the financial system and macroeconomic infrastructure.10 In contrast to the rapidity of the rehabilitation provided by charities, aid to the government that passed through its institutions was practically non-

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existent until the second half of 1995, when it began to be granted slowly. The desire to block it was nowhere more apparent than in the impossibility of finding $4.5 million to pay Rwanda’s arrears to the World Bank in order to permit disbursement of $250 million of approved loans.11 As we shall see further on, France was in the background, maneuvering and seeking to impose the participation of its genocidal allies. Finally, the European Union (EU), in November 1994, ended the impasse by offering $88 million unconditionally.12 One year after the government took office, civil servants had neither salary nor housing but received a food ration, with most of the operating costs assumed by the RPF. In January 1995, a donor roundtable was organized in Geneva, during which promises of aid for government activities reached $707 million. However, by mid-1995, only $68 million had been paid out, and only one-third of that was granted to the Rwandan government, representing only 3 percent of the pledges made. International financial aid to the government increased, nonetheless, toward the end of 1995. A team evaluating international postgenocide aid determined that slow disbursement of aid for the public sector delayed the reconstruction process and contributed to exacerbating the country’s economic and political crisis.13 Several reasons were given in explaining the reluctance of international donors to help the postgenocide government. There was the accusation of excessive use of force in closing the camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) at Kibeho, which had affected numerous victims. This event had driven a certain number of donors to momentarily suspend their assistance, but they reconsidered two months later. There were also reasons linked to the government’s limited absorption capacity and its resistance to accept foreign technical aid. But the main reasons were above all political in nature, with implicit and explicit conditionalities. One of the conditions implicit in the EU aid was enlargement of the government in order to give it “broader representativity.” Meanwhile, behind the scenes, France was plotting to have its ally, the MRND, the main force behind the genocide, included in the new government.14 The Vatican’s special representative defended the same position. According to him, in order for peace to return, it was necessary to create an understanding among “those who won militarily in the field, but who do not represent a sufficient number to govern, and those in the camps who were preparing to regain control.”15 Such frank opinions were rather rare because the international community never openly dared to propose that the government negotiate with the perpetrators of the genocide.16 The reservations of the international community also had an impact on its relations with the genocide survivors. The international assessment team noted that the international community has tended to overlook the plight of the survivors of the genocide; by and large, they have not been treated differently


In the Wake of Catastrophe from other segments of the population. On the other hand, the international community has spent immense resources on the refugees. It is not that the refugees do not deserve assistance but that such assistance should be balanced with assistance to survivors. . . . However, beyond the institutional roadblocks, cultural insensitivity within the international community at times devalued the tragic social and human dimensions of the genocide as perceived by the Rwandans. Perhaps the most lamentable example was the rush to promote reconciliation over the understandable resistance of those who had suffered immensely.17

The international community’s insensitivity to the fate of the genocide survivors and, at the opposite end, its solicitude toward that of the refugees was certainly related to political and ideological considerations as denounced by Alison Des Forges. “Some decision-makers, especially in France and Belgium, held onto the idea that an ethnic majority corresponded necessarily to a democratic majority. They were unable to take the step of condemning the genocide because they feared favoring an eventual RPF victory, followed by the establishment of a government dominated by the minority.”18 An increasing antagonism also separated the new government from part of the community of international NGOs. Just after the genocide, scores of NGOs came to work in Rwanda, equipped with considerable resources and following their own strategies with activities based on their perception of local needs. Weak government institutions were unable to exert control over their activities, but little by little, as the ability to govern improved, this situation changed. By the end of 1995, the government demanded that NGOs work within the framework of its policies, priorities, and procedures and that they register with the Ministry of Rehabilitation. Most complied, but a minority resisted. In December 1995, out of approximately 150 NGOs, the government announced the expulsion of 38 and the suspension of the activities of 18 others that had refused to follow the new directives.19 This expulsion seemed to durably alter relations between the new regime and part of the humanitarian community. Reducing the Aggression of the Génocidaires

The official end of the genocide on 4 July 1994 did not mean the end of the deadly violence or that of war, in which the RPA faced off against the genocidal forces. Only a few weeks after their flight to Zaire, these forces resumed their deadly activities aimed first of all at genocide survivors living in border regions. The intensity of this violence grew and grew to the point that the RPA decided to confront the génocidaires in their camps in Zaire. This confrontation also took place in Rwanda and resulted in the defeat of the insurrection of the genocidal forces in the northwest between 1998 and 2000. But before tackling the insecurity caused by infiltrations from refugee camps, the RPA sought to first close the camps for the IDPs.

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Closing the Camps in the Former Zone Turquoise

Deep inside the country, extremists resumed their deadly activities in the camps of displaced Rwandans. Many killers who had been unable to flee in time hid inside the camps in the former Zone Turquoise. Using the same tactics employed in the camps in Zaire, these killers succeeded in reestablishing their power in the IDPs’ camps, mainly by controlling the distribution of humanitarian aid. They discouraged other displaced persons from leaving the camps, arguing that they would be killed by the RPA, and did not hesitate to use intimidation. They also used the camps as a base for launching raids to steal from and kill a number of people living in communes adjacent to the camps in Gikongoro prefecture. The goal of these attacks was to destabilize the new order by showing that the RPA troops could not control the region.20 In August 1994, the new government began to return the internally displaced to their homes, which allowed the closure of a number of camps. In November 1994, the government set the deadline of the end of December for closing all the camps. Meanwhile, the Integrated Operations Center, run by the international community, was created, bringing together UN agencies, international NGOs, and government representatives. This structure was conceived to supervise and coordinate international and government activities involving the displaced. The operational aspect of its activities was assigned to a working group also led by the international community in cooperation with the government. Seeing that the RPA was intending to carry out triage operations in order to flush out criminal elements in the larger camps, UNAMIR launched Operation Hope in order to peacefully collect weapons, but only a few grenades and hundreds of machetes were found. In December and January, the government expanded its operations to encourage the displaced to return home. Using coercive tactics, such as the destruction of tents and possessions of the displaced or surrounding the displaced and leading them toward exits, most of the large camps, with the exception of that at Kibeho, were successfully closed. By January 1995, about half of the 350,000 internally displaced had returned to their places of origin, most of them without international assistance. As the camps closed, however, a transfer of the Interahamwe militia took place. They sneaked into camps that were still open.21 The camp at Kibeho, for example, saw its population grow from 70,000 people to 115,000 in February 1995, including many extremists.22 Reacting to the strong-arm methods used by the RPA in December and January 1995 and to Operation Hope, of which they disapproved, humanitarian agencies launched Operation Return under the aegis of the Integrated Operations Center. This operation was based on the principle of the voluntary return of the displaced. The operation had two main aspects: the coordinated spread of information encouraging returning and a decrease of food


In the Wake of Catastrophe

allocations. But several NGOs and at least one UN agency refused to follow that plan. In a climate of general insecurity and lack of clarity in procedures for arrests inside and outside the camps, some NGOs refused “to use food as a weapon.” When asked to coordinate the information campaign in Gikongoro prefecture, the UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda (HRFOR) replied that “it could not spread false information.” The organizations that refused to be “agents of implementation” of government policy chose to the contrary to concentrate on supplying essential services for the internally displaced, compromising the repatriation plan’s chances of success.23 Beginning in February 1995, fewer people were returning, and returning became more difficult. The Rwandan government, which had clearly identified the camps of displaced as a major security threat and as an obstacle to the return of refugees from outside the country, became more and more frustrated with the indifference of the international community concerning the urgency of the question. During a meeting on 27 February 1995, the working group of the Integrated Operations Center had to admit the failure of Operation Return. The displaced in the Kibeho camp did not want to leave the camp, and awareness campaigns were ineffective. “The conclusion was reached that Kibeho was becoming a criminals’ sanctuary and that there was no valid strategy to coerce the internally displaced persons to return home.”24 In March 1995, representatives of the government in the Integrated Operations Center expressed to their colleagues from the international community their determined desire to see the Kibeho camp disassembled as soon as possible. While some donors favored the rapid closing of the camp, the United Nations and NGOs held out for a slower solution based on the principle of voluntary return. Representatives of the Rwandan government accused the humanitarian agencies of obstruction and, by continuing to supply humanitarian aid to the camps, of encouraging the displaced to remain where they were.25 On 18 April, RPA troops carried out a “cordon and search” operation that sought to gather displaced persons scattered out on several hills in a single place at the same time that they restricted the supply of food and water to the displaced. The RPA announced that the operation was to close the camp, that the displaced would be searched and registered before being escorted to their communes of origin, and that those who refused to leave would be arrested. During the ensuing registration, many displaced persons were recognized by witnesses as having participated in the genocide.26 During this operation, some of the displaced threw stones at the RPA soldiers, while others tried to take away their weapons. The soldiers reacted, killing between thirteen and twenty-two displaced persons.27 At noon on Saturday, 22 April, a large group of displaced persons tried to break through the cordon formed by the RPA by running toward the valley, while the RPA sought to gather them by encircling the hill so that they would pass through a registration point.28 The RPA troops fired shots into

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the crowd, resulting in wounded. After this incident, the cordon was reestablished by shooting in the air and encircling the displaced in order to move them toward a registration point. An Australian humanitarian worker described how the situation degenerated. As the processing slowly continued, people became very weary and restless. One casualty we received later told us they had been so crowded in by the RPA, without food or water, that they had been barely able to sit. The Interahamwe leaders in particular began to become concerned, and quite rightly, as imprisonment or execution were very real possibilities for them. As a result, they began to harass the people and then to attack the crowd with machetes. Their reasons were probably twofold—to create a diversion in order to escape and to silence potential informers. Whatever the reason, this resulted in panic amongst the crowd, which began pushing against the RPA cordon. The RPA soldiers, fearing a riot, began to shoot into the crowd, firing indiscriminately.29

Eyewitness accounts and reports of persons present at the time of the events and whose testimony was gathered shortly thereafter agree on the sequence of events that set off the massacre. Namely, at the time of the second attempt to break through the RPA cordon, it was the militia in the camp that began attacking the other IDPs with machetes, forcing thousands of persons against the cordon held by the RPA soldiers.30 Then shots were fired from the crowd at the soldiers, wounding many and setting off a sustained and indiscriminate armed riposte.31 Significant human losses were caused by shots from the RPA troops and by the stampede of the crowd. A number of displaced persons were executed by the militia and other extremists.32 The government estimated 338 persons were killed, the United Nations estimated 2,000, and some NGOs claimed the figure of 8,000 dead.33 On 27 April, President Bizimungu announced the establishment of an independent international commission of inquiry, which was backed by the UN Security Council. It determined that serious violations of human rights—including summary executions of unarmed displaced—were perpetrated and that it was the responsibility of both the RPA and elements among the displaced themselves. The commission, however, did not give an estimate of the number of victims. It explained the use of excessive force by the RPA soldiers by their lack of experience and equipment for crowd control. The commission also regretted that the UN agencies had not been capable of contributing more efficiently to the camp’s rapid evacuation. In the case of NGOs, the commission stressed that “there are credible indications that some NGOs actively contradicted the policies of the Government of Rwanda by encouraging internally displaced persons to remain in Kibeho Camp and by pursuing discriminatory hiring practices. Moreover, the decision of a number of NGOs not to cooperate with the closure operation once it began exacerbated the humanitarian crisis.”34


In the Wake of Catastrophe

The Kibeho massacre greatly poisoned relations between the government and the international community. The already diminished flow of international aid to the government slowed, while the European Union, Belgium, and the Netherlands suspended their aid, although this aid was resumed two months later. Resumption of the War Against the Genocidal Forces Only a few weeks after the official end of the genocide in July 1994, bloody incursions into Rwanda from refugee camps in Zaire began. They started with isolated raids committing murder and robbery. At first, these raids were considered to be acts of banditry, but it quickly became evident that their aim was to destabilize the country.35 In response, the RPA developed strategies to protect economic infrastructure, the frequent target of the attackers. The génocidaires changed strategy at the beginning of 1996. This time, they specifically targeted local authorities, the genocide survivors, and Hutus who had agreed to testify at genocide trials in isolated places. The new strategy proved to be effective, resulting in a multiplication of murders of these easy targets. In June 1996, three incidents would change Rwandans’ perception about what was happening: eleven students, all survivors of the genocide, were assassinated in Kibungo in the east of the country. Nine persons on a list of witnesses at genocide trials were killed in Rushashi in the northwest as well as 23 genocide survivors and refugees from the 1959 revolution at Satinsyi in the north.36 The feeling of a continuation of the genocide began to spread among genocide survivors and others. The second half of 1996 was extremely violent in the northwestern part of the country, being a foretaste of a true insurrection whose main feature was the murder of civilians. The response was counterinsurrectionist operations by the RPA. The HRFOR recorded 170 cases of murder in April 1996, 165 in May, 85 in June, 365 in July, 284 in August, and 105 in September. These figures made no distinction between murders blamed on the infiltrators, those blamed on the RPA, and those with no identified perpetrator.37 Individually, these bloody incidents did not cause many victims, but the high number of victims came from the frequent repetition of these violent acts over a large portion of the north and west of the country and, above all, it produced a feeling of insecurity and social tension even outside these regions. The Beginning of the War in Zaire Rwanda did not take long in reacting to the measure of the threat that it faced. In his speech on 4 July 1996 commemorating the end of the geno-

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cide, General Kagame, vice president and minister of defense at that time, warned those who were spreading insecurity in the country that they were not far away, and, if necessary, Rwanda would find them and confront them wherever they were. At the end of August 1996, General Kagame went to Washington, DC, to meet with US officials, to whom he explained that the insecurity in Rwanda could not continue. He stated that if no one could deal with this issue, he would do so, even seeking out the génocidaires wherever they were. His interlocutors did not take him seriously.38 In the meantime, the violent expansion of the zone of influence of the Rwandan extremist refugees in North and South Kivu on the border with Rwanda made the situation even more tense. Local authorities and part of civil society in the Kivu provinces joined the efforts of the Rwandan extremist refugees by carrying out a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Congolese Tutsis in that region. Right after they settled in the camps, the genocidal forces set out to persecute Congolese Tutsis and 1959 Rwandan refugees in North Kivu—and to a lesser degree the Hunde ethnic minority— pillaging and killing under the complacent eye of the Zairean authorities and influential members of civil society in the Kivu provinces.39 In the spring of 1996, 13,500 Zairean Tutsi refugees were living in a camp in Gisenyi prefecture. There were a total of 40,000 refugees in other parts of this region, including other ethnic groups.40 The anti-Tutsi campaign in South Kivu was led by the vice governor, Lwabanji Lwaboshi Ngabo, and the commissioner for the Uvira region, Shweka Mutabazi. On 9 September 1996, Mutabazi organized an antiBanyamulenge (Zairean Tutsis from South Kivu) march, then a Pentecostal mass in the locality of Kasenga, ordering the “hunting down of the snakes.”41 A few days later, Ngabo gave the Banyamulenge on the Itombwe plateau a deadline of six days to come down from their mountains and turn themselves over to the authorities who would escort them through a corridor to their “real home in Rwanda.”42 On 14 September 1996, a group of 286 Banyamulenge arrived at the Rwandan border at Cyangugu, relating stories of terror and massacres.43 In the meantime, a contingent of veteran Banyamulenge RPA combatants was sent to the Minembwe high plateau, where there was a concentration of Banyamulenge, and carried out combat operations against the Zairean army.44 At the beginning of September 1996, additional RPA troops were sent as reinforcements to the region. That was the beginning of the invasion of Zaire, which would result in the breaking up of Rwandan refugee camps and the prolonged presence of Rwandan troops in that country. On 18 October 1996, formation of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (AFDL) was announced. It gathered opponents of the Mobutu regime, including a former Congolese revolutionary, Laurent-Désiré Kabila, with a large contingent of Banyamulenge fighters.


In the Wake of Catastrophe

The AFDL combatants, backed by Rwandan RPA troops, took control of both North and South Kivu successively and broke up Rwandan and Burundian refugee camps after light fighting. The last stage of this campaign took place near the Mugunga camp, some 20 kilometers from Goma, where thousands of Rwandan refugees and combatants from other camps had gathered after their camps had been dismantled. On 14 November 1996, the RPA attacked the Mugunga camp, where the genocidal forces resisted for a few hours before retreating west, pushing in front of them some of the refugees. On 15 November, hundreds of thousands of refugees started moving toward Rwanda, while others fled farther westward. The number of refugees that returned at that time is controversial, and estimates range from 400,000 to 700,000. In December 1996, the Tanzanian government announced that the 550,000 Rwandan refugees living there had to leave the country as soon as possible. Their repatriation began immediately, and in February 1997 almost all the Rwandan refugees in Tanzania had been repatriated. Insurrection in the Northwest After the massive repatriation of refugees at the end of 1996, a major armed confrontation began in Rwanda itself between the genocidal forces and the RPA. It took place mainly in the northwest of the country and lasted from May 1997 to December 2001. It cost the lives of thousands of persons, especially civilians but also prisoners, infiltrated fighters, and RPA soldiers. The insurrection was centered in the Ruhengeri and Gisenyi prefectures, the home regions of most members of the former regime’s army, but it also extended to the borders of these prefectures, on the edges of Kibuye prefecture in the west, Gitarama prefecture in the center, and rural Kigali prefecture in the north-central region of the country. This insurrection was led by ex-FAR soldiers, members of the Interahamwe militia, and other affiliated groups. The extent of the effort and the determination with which it was carried out reflected ambitious objectives for northwestern Rwanda, the bastion of the former regime, which the insurgents sought desperately to control. Operations were carried out in close coordination with the commanders who had stayed in Zaire, even if most of the combatants were based in Rwanda despite the name of “infiltrators” that was given them.45 The first violent incidents broke out at the end of 1996 just after the refugees’ return. But the insurrection began, strictly speaking, in May 1997. The entry on 17 May 1997 of the AFDL in Kinshasa was followed by the transfer of 30,000–40,000 Rwandan Hutu fighters to northwest Rwanda from the border region of Masisi in Zaire, where they had gathered.46 They camped in the forest around the volcanoes on the border between Rwanda and Zaire.

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The insurrection reached a sustained level of intensity in October 1997 and, at the beginning, benefited from the considerable backing of the inhabitants in the northwest, who had been mobilized by the local authorities officially established there. The insurgents preferred murdering Tutsis, genocide survivors, 1959 refugees, Zairean refugees, local authorities, and ordinary local inhabitants who refused to cooperate. The ethnic character of these killings was made even more visible when the infiltrators attacked schools and buses, selectively killing Tutsis as well as Hutus who refused to identify themselves as such. The other target of choice was the prisons, in order to free prisoners accused of participating in the genocide. Certain parts of the country became war zones for weeks, with almost daily military engagements leading to losses among the insurgents and the Rwandan military.47 The insurrection went through various stages of military operations, reflecting the desire of their commanders to adapt their offensive to evolution in the field. These operations focused on Rwandan territory and were sometimes carried out simultaneously on the other side of the border in North Kivu. The first Operation Alleluia, which was aimed mainly at Tutsi Zairean refugees, specifically during the massacre of Mudende, was launched in October 1997. The Mudende camp, located on the Mudende Adventist University campus in Gisenyi prefecture, held 17,000 refugees. On the night of 10 December 1997, the insurgents led a diversion attack against the nearby prison of Mutura and blocked roads leading to the Mudende camp with piles of stones. From 11 p.m. until 2:30 a.m., an immense crowd of attackers, including a number of women, attacked the camp with a few firearms and grenades but primarily with machetes, axes, and clubs, indiscriminately killing men, women, and children, some of whom were burned alive in their tents. The United Nations gave a figure of 300 dead. With this spectacular massacre, the insurrection expanded its area of operations at the end of 1997, attacking beyond the borders of Kigali-Rural and Gitarama prefectures, spreading fear in the country. With the death in combat of Lieutenant Colonel Leonard Nkundiye, one of the main insurgent commanders, in July 1998 along with 200 of his men, the first Operation Alleluia ended with the significant weakening of the insurrection. Several weeks later, other insurgent commanders fell in combat.48 The second Operation Alleluia in September 1998 targeted the region of Goma in Zaire and Gisenyi in Rwanda and succeeded in recovering many weapons. Operation Amen and Operation Odyssey in Zaire took place in June 1999 and July 2000, respectively. They were attempts to counter RPA operations from the other side of the border. In May and December 2001, Operation Oracle du Seigneur took place in Rwanda, which ended with the capture of the insurgents’ commander and his head of intelligence as well as the surrender of 1,700 insurgents, marking the end of the insurrection in the northwest.49 Insurrection occurred in the midst of the civilian population with the active participation of some civilians. Women, but also children, were


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involved, even in combat situations, owing to the complicity of many local authorities. Adopting the same strategy as that used during the genocide, the insurgents used the civilian population as human shields, intending that civilian participation would politicize the insurrection and complicate later legal action. Many civilians participated in attacks mixed in among combatants. Many times, they formed crowds of several hundred people, throwing stones or simply making noise with pots and pans and shouts. Another aspect of this strategy was for combatants to take civilians with them as they retreated after an attack, increasing the risk of victims among civilians during the army’s pursuit operations. There were many civilian victims, especially at the beginning of the insurrection. The HRFOR and Amnesty International frequently denounced abuses committed by the army. However, these organizations did not go to the trouble of looking at the strategic element, central to this insurrection, which was the participation of civilians in a combat situation who therefore did not meet the definition of “unarmed civilians.”50 The civilian population, often with family ties to the infiltrators, had been initially misled about the ability of the infiltrators and the prospect of a quick victory. When local populations began to resist, the insurgents did not hesitate in using violence to force civilians to continue cooperating with them. These civilians became the main stake in the political-military confrontation, and they found themselves between a rock and a hard place. Next, the RPA faced up to the political dimension of the confrontation, expanding its policy of separating civilians from insurgents, primarily through persuasion. In the most sensitive areas, the RPA began to provide regrouping and protection for the civilian population and cleared nearby banana groves, which had provided cover and food to the insurgents. It also took steps to control the destination of food rations distributed by international NGOs in order to starve the insurgents and civilians who had left with them. Hungry and suffering from increasing payment demands by the insurgents, these civilians fled to RPA-protected areas, thus denying the insurgents logistical support. At the same time, the army gained valuable information from them. Cooperation of local populations with the army accelerated the defeat of the insurgents, especially by persuading combatants who had recently joined the insurrection to defect. A Tense Social Situation The regions outside the northwest were largely spared the torment of widespread security problems but had other sources of conflict. Those were primarily related to questions of justice and occupation of houses and land arising from the difficulty of reintegrating former refugees, usually referred to as 1959 refugees. In addition, there was major poverty throughout the country.

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Acts of Vengeance and Disappearances

After the genocide, acts of revenge were committed in the country. One of the causes of these acts of revenge was the presence of génocidaires, who walked about freely in a context of weak government presence.51 These acts of revenge often involved genocide survivors and RPA soldiers eliminating people accused of having participated in the genocide. These crimes, murders, and disappearances of one or a small group of persons continued until late in 1995, when local administration and military justice were reinforced. During the 1994 military campaign, the ranks of the RPA almost doubled, growing from 20,000 men to 35,000 in a few weeks.52 By 1995, a bit more than one-third of the RPA soldiers were survivors.53 This rapid recruitment was made with little consideration for selection criteria, so that even members of the Interahamwe militia found themselves incorporated into the RPA.54 These new recruits, who had not had time to become well trained, were those that created the most discipline problems. Furthermore, the strict RPA code of conduct in time of war, including the death penalty in cases of murder or rape, could no longer be applied postgenocide.55 Acts of revenge were not, however, only because of the lack of institutional control or carried out only by bloodthirsty brutes. A certain number of these acts were committed by soldiers in broad daylight, after which the criminal surrendered or killed himself. Some explained their gesture by saying that they could not stand the sight of the killers of their relatives walking around in freedom. Others preferred simply to kill themselves after their crime of revenge. General Kagame, vice president and minister of defense at that time, explained that the cohabitation of the génocidaires with genocide survivors, some of whom were armed, had become so dangerous that it would be better to put those who were suspected of participating in the genocide in prison. “Because either we would lose them through revenge killings—and that would have been an even bigger problem for us—or we would have them in prison. I prefer the latter.”56 The arrest of criminals and better deployment of the military administration over the entire country put an end to those acts.57 Massive Arrests

After the genocide, many participants did not leave the country, which meant that large numbers of people were arrested quickly. In May 1995, the central prison system held approximately 41,000 prisoners in what was considered to have a maximum capacity for 12,250 prisoners. In December 1995, there were between 12,000 and 15,000 new imprisonments. That number increased by 1,500 cases per week before dropping off to 500 per week in September 1995.58 Arrests continued to increase, reaching close to 125,000 by 1998.59


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Even before the genocide, the Rwandan judiciary system was very minimal. Out of 600 judges, only one-fifth had any legal training. The system was characterized by corruption and a lack of independence. Out of the 800 persons who worked in the judicial system before April 1994, only 40 showed up for work after July 1994. Initially, the administration of justice was in the hands of soldiers who had become gendarmes. The overpopulation in detention centers caused traumas, including the death of hundreds of prisoners from asphyxiation and dysentery, while others died from untreated gangrene.60 In the field of politics, arrests created sharp tension, particularly with the MDR of Prime Minister Twagiramungu, who denounced “the arrests and arbitrary detentions that have reached worrying proportions.”61 In November 1994, the MDR published a pamphlet in which it proposed creating specialized commissions responsible for preparing lists of suspects who had participated in the genocide and massacres. Only the prefectural commissions under the prefect himself would have had the right to hand over suspects before a competent judge.62 In November 1994, the MDR demanded a legalistic solution to the problem of the arrests of suspected killers, at a time that the judiciary was truly nonexistent. The government, led by the president of the MDR, Twagiramungu, recognized the complexity of the situation in July 1995 when redressing an account after one year of activity.63 The international community, especially the HRFOR, focused on the question of arrests. The difficulties posed by the legalistic approach adopted by the HRFOR agents, described by the “conjoint international evaluation,” provoked very sharp tensions between HRFOR and the government. Instead of assuming the difficult and complex task of working with local officials to develop acceptable, but realistic, arrest procedures in light of the conditions in Rwanda, at times field officers simply protested the legality of a particular arrest, demanded that individual’s release, and reported a human rights violation when the individual remained detained.64

During 1995, efforts to improve the process for arresting and detaining people were undertaken with the creation of triage commissions composed of representatives of the army, the administration, and prosecutors. These commissions were given the task of releasing people who were arrested under the most dubious circumstances and those most vulnerable but had little effect because of the reluctance to release prisoners by those in charge of the operation. Mobile groups of judicial police inspectors, who freed prisoners without dossiers or whose dossiers were incomplete, were created in 1996. During three years of activity, from 1995 to 1998, these mobile groups succeeded in freeing 34,000 prisoners. Some of those released, however, were rearrested, while others were killed primarily by persons involved in the genocide, who feared they would testify against them.65 With adoption of the organic law of 30 August 1996 on the prosecution of the genocide and massacres, genocide trials began. Over a period of

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three years, 900 persons were judged in trials generally considered to be satisfactory; however, the number of them was totally insignificant in relation to the 125,000 persons who were incarcerated.66 The finding that at the speed at which these trials were taking place an overwhelming number of detainees had little chance to be judged during their lifetime forced the authorities and interested parties to consider alternatives. In the meantime, in a special meeting held on 6 October 1998, the cabinet decided to release prisoners “without dossiers or whose dossiers contained only their identification.” Approximately 10,000 persons were to benefit from this measure according to estimates of the Ministry of Justice. This caused anger and dismay among survivors, who feared for their safety. Massive arrests created serious internal tension and tension with the international community. Critics argued that at least 50 percent of the prisoners were innocent and accused the government of abusive arrests and poorly hiding a policy of judicial revenge. Reflecting perhaps the largescale character of participation in the crime, the first 900 trials for genocide had an acquittal rate of 17 percent.67 Illegal Occupation of Property

The question of the occupation of houses by repatriated 1959 refugees, but also to a lesser extent by the survivors of the genocide, crystallized tensions at the beginning of the period of transition. The chaos and almost total desertion of the city of Kigali just after the genocide gave rise to the pillaging of shops and warehouses along with the illegal occupation of houses by new arrivals. The large-scale return of 1959 refugees occurred spontaneously and without preparation or any support. In Burundi and North and South Kivu, the return of 1959 refugees was strongly motivated by security problems. The same was also true for the 1959 refugees living in the Ngara District in Tanzania.68 The return of 1959 refugees from Uganda was primarily encouraged by the local RPF structures in order to populate the country, which had been emptied of a large part of its inhabitants. A widely shared motivation, even by communities of earlier refugees living as far away as Europe and North America, was the pressing need to counter the genocide by returning and reinhabiting the country. The early refugees from Uganda entered through Byumba and Mutara prefectures along with thousands of heads of cattle during a drought in a region where water was difficult to find. Portions of the herders turned back after losing many cattle. Those from Burundi, including some from old refugee camps on the other side of the border, entered Rwanda from the southeast through Kibungo prefecture and the Bugesera. They moved into rural areas, harvesting crops left behind by those who had fled. Those from the Congo settled mostly in northwestern Rwanda. The urbanized members of these various communities converged primarily on Kigali and, to a lesser


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extent, around the secondary cities. In October 1994, there were already more than 400,000 repatriated persons and, toward the end of 1995, most of the 1959 refugees had returned to the country. Estimates of their numbers vary, ranging from 600,000 to 900,000.69 Most of the repatriated 1959 refugees returned with very few resources and had to make do for housing and survival in this new environment, although many houses remained empty. The second group of occupiers of houses was made up of genocide survivors. The desire to acquire land had pushed killers to systematically destroy their victims’ houses, especially in rural areas. In addition, a certain number of survivors did not try to return to their farms and live among those who had been present and perhaps had participated in the massacre of their families. Many settled in Kigali and in smaller cities. The authorities tolerated these occupations but reminded the new occupants that it was only a temporary solution and that the property must be given up to its rightful owners when they returned. After the pillaging of the first days, a semblance of order settled in the city. Problems arose when some new refugees or IDPs suddenly returned, demanding their properties. Abuses were committed, repatriated persons disappeared or were killed, and others were falsely accused of participating in the genocide. This issue became highly controversial, and despite the difficulty of measuring its importance, its occurrence was presented as systematized. Spokespersons for the refugees in the camps gave that as the main reason refugees should not return. Overwhelmed by the extent of the problem, the government could not agree on the next step, even if all its members agreed on eventual respect for property rights. Disagreement within the RPF arose with Minister of the Interior Seth Sendashonga, who argued for immediate restitution of houses illegally occupied, and some of his colleagues, who demanded to also take into account the situation of the squatters. At the beginning, the standing rule was that hoarded property had to be returned to the legitimate owners as soon as they appeared, without specifying the exact terms.70 But solving this issue took time. Among the first concrete steps, there were measures that the army adopted in December 1995 aimed at bringing its members back to order. Soldiers were told to return to their barracks. Only officers with a rank of major or above had the right to live in a city, and they had the right to a single house in which to live. Houses in which they had installed family members had to be returned. The large number of guards protecting multiple houses of officers without sufficient supervision was also a significant source of abuse. Some of these guards began to steal and act as accomplices in various crimes. Their number was subsequently reduced to one per officer’s house.71 The question of illegal occupation of houses as well as that of land was resolved in 1997, when squatters were ordered to immediately leave the houses they occupied without any form of procedure.

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Political and Social Crises Against the backdrop of a disastrous security situation, war along the borders, an inoperative judicial system, and very difficult living conditions, the initial power-sharing experiment turned out to be a failure and led to an acute political and social crisis during the first part of the period of postgenocide transition (1994–1999). First Wave of Political Defections

The government of national unity suffered from a general lack of cohesion. Certain ministers were suspected of being in contact with opponents outside the country and of sabotaging government activities by passing confidential information to donors and foreign embassies. In addition, some political parties, especially the MDR, were accused of protecting persons involved in the genocide or of appointing them to important positions, such as deputies or advisers in ministries.72 During the last months of 1995, Sendashonga, an RPF minister, and other political figures often referred to in the Western press as Hutu moderates resigned from their positions. Also resigning were Prime Minister Twagiramungu, Minister of Justice Alphonse Nkubito, and even the procurer for Kigali, François Nsanzuwera. In this initial wave of senior officials, diplomats, army officers, journalists, and important persons in civil society who chose exile, there were a number of genocide survivors. Political dissension played an important role for a number of these people. That was the case for several personalities close to the MDR, such as former prime minister Twagiramungu, who, once outside the country, denounced the concentration of power in the hands of the RPF, human rights violations, and intimidations.73 This was also the case for RPF minister Sendashonga.74 Both of them and other Hutu ministers were dismissed from their functions at the end of August 1995 after a government crisis over the activities of the security services that they accused of killings and mass incarceration of Hutus. Several months later, most of those persons left the country and became opponents. The defection of these ministers reflected the failure of the government of national unity formed in the spirit of extended power sharing as prescribed by the Arusha Accords. The extent and complexity of the crises that the country was facing had to come to terms with the difficulty posed by the contradictory orientations of the political leadership. But other considerations beyond politics also motivated a number of these exiles, namely pessimism as to the country’s future, its instability, and harsh living conditions at that time. Many defections, the lack of government cohesion, and the security situation mentioned above produced an atmosphere of instability, tension, and permanent crisis. For the genocide survivors traumatized by their experience, these factors played an even more


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important role. Some sought to distance themselves as much as possible from the country in an attempt to erase their bad memories. Others sought to put their family safely and definitively out of the way of political violence.75 To that must be added the ease with which Rwandan refugees obtained visas and political asylum in Western countries at that time. Meanwhile, professionals, young graduates, the unemployed, and former 1959 and 1973 refugees made their way in the opposite direction and left the more prosperous Western or African countries in which they had been living, such as South Africa or West Africa, to return and participate in the reconstruction process. The Revolt of RPF Party Officials

After the initial chaos immediately following the genocide, during which pillaging (which people ironically referred to by the term kubohoza, meaning “to liberate”), the challenges of physical and social survival, and all sorts of crises were almost the daily lot.76 A certain political and social order began to set in, and an elite emerged whose members indulged themselves in practices of quick accumulation, which, rightly or wrongly, shocked public opinion. The speed of this social differentiation, the spite and envy that it caused, but also the corruption and predations to which it sometimes contributed, caused a crisis that would shake the RPF from within and have deep and lasting consequences. After 1997, disagreement over specific questions of political ethics and ideological orientation that directly targeted the party began to be expressed in publications considered close to the RPF. Although the power-sharing system and other parties in the government coalition were also criticized, the preferred target was the RPF. As was often the case in the independent newspapers in Kinyarwanda, the tone was sensationalist, even virulent. An article in the magazine L’Ère de Liberté appeared in July 1997 entitled “Why Did the RPF Revolution Fail?” that really sparked things off.77 It denounced generalized corruption, nepotism, and “the arrogance that had become a method of governing.” It explained that the system of power sharing among political parties had been taken over by utuzu cliques in various parts of the government coalition who dedicated themselves to unbridled nepotism and corruption.78 Raising the question of just where the RPF’s revolutionary ambitions had gone, the article explained that the RPF also had been diverted by the akazu clique, which had used the prohibition preventing political parties from functioning normally to avoid having to account for their activities to party members. The article identified the origin of the problem in the power-sharing system. Everything began when the RPF asked the presidents of the MDR, PSD, PL, PDC, and other small parties to share power. What these leaders did

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was to grant their friends posts of minister, deputy, ambassador, prefect, bourgmestre, and other choice posts without ever taking into consideration their qualifications. These nominations were in fact designed to lift them out of poverty. That was called “lifting someone from the blindé” [blindé referred to the small blue tents that UNHCR gave refugees].

The article noted that when RPF leaders were asked to explain the chaos, they replied that there had not been enough time to select among political partners and that they had to respect the Arusha Accords in order to win foreigners’ confidence. According to L’Ère de Liberté, the RPF had become a political “movement of vague colors.” The small clique at the heart of the RPF, its akazu, used the president and vice president in order to do whatever it wanted, and nothing could be done without its approval. The article stated that there were more and more tall buildings and huge villas under construction belonging to leaders of the RPF in the city of Kigali. Furthermore, those leaders were linked among themselves by family ties. In addition, these nouveaux riches often added large farms in the Mutara region to their holdings. The newspaper raised the question of how these persons had succeeded in accumulating so much wealth in just three years. It asked who in fact ran the country. In addition, political analysts say that RPF revolutionaries have abdicated to the reactionaries who have confiscated the victory; we fear that if this situation continues, chaos will spread all over the country and that low-ranking military officers, with other Rwandans who have not yet succumbed to cupidity, will rise to defend their rights. That eventuality would only bring us misfortune.79

Other newspapers at that time tended to lean in the same direction, including government newspapers Imvaho Nshya and La Nouvelle Relève and from time to time even the army’s magazine Ingabo. An article entitled “The RPF Has Abandoned Its Convictions” in the newspaper Le Tribun du Peuple that came out in August 1997 attracted attention. In that article, the author, close to the RPF at that time, took up the questioning of L’Ère de Liberté about the causes of “the failure of the RPF revolution.” He answered by saying that, according to him, this revolution had failed because “once we assumed power, we imitated the methods of governing that we fought yesterday.” The author denounced misappropriation, corruption, nepotism, and a courtly attitude as the miseries plaguing Rwandan society. He asked himself whether he and his comrades had fought Habyarimana and his henchmen only in order to take their place.80 How can these members of the new predatory nomenklatura be locked up in the interests of public safety? That’s the question that all honest and patriotic Rwandans are asking themselves now. The number of those who think that our struggle had been motivated by good governance and the economic development does not stop decreasing. A new mafia—which


In the Wake of Catastrophe pretends to be above any suspicion—methodically exploited the country. Let me ask the members of this mafia this question: Do you know that most people are very disappointed? . . . Can you imagine that the gap did not cease growing wider every day between your life in luxury and the indescribable misery in which most people live their daily lives?81

In the next issue, the newspaper reported on a meeting of RPF members from Michigan in the United States held at the end of August 1997. The minutes of that meeting denounced “the accumulation of wealth, the lack of accountability, arrogance, cronyism, political patronage, and intellectual bankruptcy at the heart of the RPF.”82 The next edition of Le Tribun du Peuple rubbed it in: “Some even say that the corruption, thievery, misappropriation of public funds, greed, nepotism, and favoritism exist just like under Habyarimana.”83 The newspaper Ukuri, published by another journalist close to the RPF, wrote in October 1997: “Does the RPF govern or is it the mere shadow of itself? Has it been taken over by an akazu clique?” Despite its positive achievements, “it has ceased to exist.”84 The magazine published by the army, Ingabo, chimed in as well. In October 1997, analyzing the new regulations for the competition for access to posts in the administration, it denounced the “voracity of the political parties and their leaders, who handed out juicy posts without taking qualifications into account.”85 Among these accusations the most controversial was that of belonging to a new akazu, suggesting a parallel between the behavior of those accused and those of the members of President Habyarimana’s regime. This sensationalist denunciation of corruption came not just from journalists or groups that cooperated in publishing polemical tracts. It was also the widespread feeling and conclusion of numerous RPF party cadres and members.86 These militants exerted strong pressure on the party leaders but most often indirectly through rumors, critiques, and slander expressed during social occasions—not through the party’s institutional framework. The virulence of the criticism ended up causing an internal crisis that the RPF leaders could no longer ignore. Unquestionably, serious problems of public ethics came up at that time, problems of corruption and nepotism, without forgetting pillages and predatory practices linked to disturbances following the end of the genocide and the war and to the complete collapse of the state and society. But by the end of 1995, these predatory practices had decreased substantially and a certain normality had begun to grow. Admittedly, the situation of deep and widespread poverty and the widely shared sentiment of a rapidly growing gap between the new elites and the rest of the population, which did not enjoy real improvement, was a cause for serious concern. With the end of the period of humanitarian emergency, financial flows of emergency assistance began to decrease, causing a true recession from 1998 onward. But if you look at the data in Table 6.1, you realize that the coun-

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try was very poor at that time but less so than Burundi and not really much poorer than Uganda and Tanzania. The same can be said of the level of corruption. The corruption that existed in Rwanda, as reflected in the table, was indeed high but not as much as in most neighboring countries. The fact that the country was in transition and that the RPF social base was undergoing a process of stratification certainly played a role. The virulence of complaints against the RPF leadership was also clearly motivated by the disappointment of a certain number of these party cadres who felt excluded from the redistribution of the postgenocide cards. Many of these officials had a sociocultural profile similar to their party comrades who had been given high government positions while others lived under very difficult conditions without any clear prospect of improvement. The revolt of the RPF cadres was not, however, something that could be attributed to simple envy. Three years after the end of the genocide, after progress had been made in restoring security over a large part of the country and the rather rapid rehabilitation of government structures, a feeling of failure began to spread among the educated population and specifically among RPF members. Widespread corruption, discord within the government, and extreme poverty made people doubt that tangible improvement of the situation was possible under the existing political conditions. The RPF had justified its struggle and the sacrifices made for the return of refugees and change in Rwanda in the name of a project of transformation of the country. That same approach had served as a means for the virulent denunciation of the Habyarimana regime, including its corruption and nepotism, notably through broadcasts of Radio Muhabura, which began in 1992 to broadcast throughout the country except in some parts in the south. This denunciation was accompanied by the same promise of transformation. A Table 6.1 Percentage of Corruption Control and per Capita GDP (constant US$) Rwanda

Burundi Uganda




1996 20 226 4 137 28 287 15 214 15 428

1998 25 287 6 137 18 294 15 297 12 476

2000 30 216 9 128 21 260 14 308 14 409


76 695 9 286 12 714 22 955 16 1,358

Source: World Bank, Worldwide Governance Indicators, 2015; World Bank, World Development Indicators, 2015. Notes: a. Corruption control. b. Per capita GDP.


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certain number of RPF senior and junior cadres and militants who had more deeply invested in this approach did not seem to want to renounce it. Notes

1. M. G., interview with author, 18 January 2016, Kigali. 2. Rwandan Patriotic Front, “Déclaration du RPF relative à la mise en place des institutions de la transition,” 17 July 1994. 3. Most members of the RPF were strongly opposed to the MDR’s participation in the government unless this party changed its name because that name represented an ideological continuity with the MDR-Parmehutu of the 1960s and, with the MDR-power faction, one of the spearheads of the genocide. 4. MDR, “Position du Parti MDR sur les grands problèmes actuels du Rwanda” (Kigali: MDR, 6 November 1994). 5. Ibid., p. 7. 6. Ibid., p. 5. 7. J. K., interview with author, 24 May 2015, Kigali. 8. MDR, “Position du Parti MDR,” p. 15. 9. José Kagabo, “Après le genocide: Notes de voyage,” Les Temps Modernes 583 (1995): 108. 10. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda, 2004; USAID, “Rebuilding PostWar Rwanda: The Role of the International Community,” The International Response to Conflict and Genocide, Study IV, “Lessons from the Rwanda Experience,” March 1996. 11. This led to an article in the Economist, “Abandoned Rwanda,” 26 November 1994. 12. “L’Union Européenne débloque 440 millions de francs,” Le Monde, 27–28 November 1994, quoted in Gérard Prunier, Africa’s World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2009), p. 8. 13. OECD, Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda, Study IV, p. 39. 14. “Aid worth ECU 200 million is reportedly being blocked by France until the MRNDD (Mouvement républicain national pour la démocratie et le développement) [National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development] is brought into the government.” Economist Intelligence Unit, “Country Report Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi,” fourth quarter, 1994. 15. Agenzia Fides, 28 January 1995. 16. Philip Gourevitch, “After Genocide: A Conversation with Paul Kagame,” Transition 72 (1996): 175. 17. OECD, Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda, Study IV, p. 100. 18. Alison Des Forges, Leave None to Tell the Story (New York/Paris: Human Rights Watch/International Federation of Human Rights, 1999), p. 29. 19. Shortly thereafter, five other NGOs among those whose activities had been suspended were expelled. United Nations, “Rwanda United Nations Situation Report for December 1995,” 15 January 1996. 20. Human Rights Watch, “Rwanda: A New Catastrophe?” December 1994. See also Thomas P. Odom, “Guerrillas from the Mist: A Defense Attaché Watches the Rwandan Patriotic Front Transform from Insurgent to Counter-Insurgent,” Small Wars Journal 5 (July 2000): 8. 21. Odom, “Guerrillas from the Mist,” p. 9. 22. Stephanie T. E. Kleine-Ahlbrandt, “The Protection Gap in the International Protection of Internally Displaced Persons: The Case of Rwanda,” Institut universitaire des hautes études internationales, Working Paper, March 2004, p. 46.

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23. Ibid., p. 45 and n. 157. 24. United Nations, “Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Events at Kibeho,” 8 May 1995, p. 6. 25. Kleine-Ahlbrandt, “Protection Gap,” p. 49. In a meeting on 27 March 1995, the representative of the Integrated Operations Center declared that it was preferable to postpone the return operation that was scheduled to begin on 6 April 1995, the first anniversary of the genocide, by one week. United Nations, “Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry,” p. 7. 26. United Nations, “Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry,” p. 8. 27. Ibid. 28. Kleine-Ahlbrandt, “Protection Gap,” p. 52. 29. Tracy Smart, “Kibeho,” 9 September 2002, /kibeho.htm/. 30. Paul Jordan, “Witness to Genocide: A Personal Account of the 1995 Kibeho Massacre,”; Odom, “Guerrillas from the Mist,” p. 9. 31. United Nations, “Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry,” p. 8. 32. Ibid., p. 9. 33. Kleine-Ahlbrandt, “Protection Gap,” p. 55. 34. United Nations, “Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry,” p. 10. 35. Odom, “Guerrillas from the Mist,” p. 10. 36. Mark Frohardt, “Reintegration and Human Rights in Postgenocide Rwanda,” Issue Brief (Washington, DC: US Committee for Refugees, 1997). 37. In its report, the UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda (HRFOR) makes no distinction between accusations of executions made against infiltrators, the RPA, and unknown murderers. At that time, most of the killing was done by rebels on the offensive. HRFOR Report for September 1996. 38. Odom, “Guerrillas from the Mist,” p. 12; John Pomfret, “Rwandans Led Revolt in Congo; Defense Minister Says Arms, Troops Supplied for Anti-Mobutu Drive,” Washington Post, 9 July 1997. 39. Faustin Ngabu, bishop of Goma, “Message de paix aux chrétiens et aux hommes de bonne volonté,” 20 April 1996. 40. Aloys Tegera, “Les Banyarwanda du Nord-Kivu (RDC) au XXème siècle. Analyse historique et socio-politique d’un groupe transfrontalier (1885–2006),” PhD diss., University of Paris I, Paris, June 2009, p. 30, n. 100. 41. Müller Ruhimbika, “Comment les Banyamulenge du Sud-Kivu ont vécu la guerre de l’Alliance des Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Congo (AFDL) et vivent la seconde guerre du Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie (RCD),” unpublished report, p. 5. 42. Mémorandum des Congolais rwandophones à qui de droit, Goma, February 2004, p. 4. 43. Prunier, Africa’s World War, p. 70. 44. Müller Ruhimbika, Les Banyamulenge (Congo-Zaire) entre deux guerres (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2001), p. 45. 45. E. R., interview with author, 12 November 2015, Kigali. 46. African Rights, Insurgency in the Northwest (London: African Rights, September 2008), p. 7. 47. Ibid., p. 1. 48. E. R. interview, 12 November 2015. 49. Ibid.; Franck Rusagara, Resilience of a Nation: A History of the Military in Rwanda (Kigali: Fountain Publishers, 2009), p. 198.


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50. African Rights, Insurgency in the Northwest, p. 395. 51. Gourevitch, “After Genocide,” p. 182. 52. African Rights, Insurgency in the Northwest, p. 264. 53. Gourevitch, “After Genocide,” p. 177. 54. Filip Reyntjens, “Subjects of Concern: Rwanda, October 1994,” Issue: A Journal of Opinion 23, no. 2 (1995): 39. 55. Gourevitch, “After Genocide,” p. 182. 56. Ibid., p. 184. 57. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (Geneva: UNHCR, 11 November 1994), p. 12. 58. OECD, Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda, Study IV, p. 74. 59. International Crisis Group, “Five Years After the Genocide in Rwanda: Justice in Question,” ICG Report Rwanda, no. 1, April 1999, p. 9. 60. Ibid. 61. MDR, “Position du Parti MDR.” 62. Ibid. 63. Republic of Rwanda, “Bilan du government du Rwanda” (Kigali: Republic of Rwanda, July 1995). 64. OECD, Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda, Study IV, p. 82. 65. International Crisis Group, “Five Years After the Genocide in Rwanda,” p. 11. 66. Ibid., p. 12. 67. Ibid, p. 10. 68. The 1994 refugees were settled not far from the refugee camps that had been used by the 1959 refugees in Ngara district. 69. Gérard Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis: History of a Genocide (London: Hurst, 1995), p. 63; Republic of Rwanda, “Évolution de la population rwandaise depuis la guerre,” Kigali, 21 November 1994. 70. Rwandan Patriotic Front, report, National Executive Committee meeting, 4 September 1994. 71. Le Tribun du Peuple (20 December 1995–10 January 1996): 11. 72. Ibid., pp. 6–7. 73. Filip Reyntjens, “Ten Years On: From Genocide to Dictatorship,” African Affairs 103 (2004): 180. 74. Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis, pp. 44–46. 75. Author’s discussions with individuals involved. 76. In Kinyarwanda, the word kubohoza means “to liberate” or “to free” and is used ironically. 77. L’Ère de Liberté 34: 5–8. 78. The word utuzu is the plural of akazu, which means “small hut.” This term was widely used during the Habyarimana regime to designate the small social and political group around the president, primarily to denounce nepotism. 79. L’Ère de Liberté 34: 5–8. 80. Le Tribun du Peuple 97, August 1997. 81. Ibid. 82. Le Tribun du Peuple 98, September 1997. 83. Le Tribun du Peuple 99, October 1997. 84. Ukuri, October 1997. 85. Ingabo, October 1997. 86. See Chapter 7 of this book.

7 Change

Public expression of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) cadres’ dissatisfaction created a crisis within the movement that forced it to begin an ambitious reform process. However, faced with a mounting social and political rebellion, economic stagnation, and ethnic tension, RPF leaders had already tried to take steps to reform the movement leadership and set the country on the road to transformation. Initially, the RPF leaders tried to introduce institutional reforms before deciding to make a complete renovation through election of the party leadership. But the party cadres and militants were not satisfied with that. They demanded and obtained a more radical process of rapid changes in the RPF and the government’s political configuration, centered on future president Paul Kagame. Partly because of the pressure exerted by party members, the movement’s new leaders carried out broad reforms that were to result in a new Rwanda. The RPF Leadership’s Attempts at Internal Reform The RPF leadership did not wait for a public challenge to its practices before seeking to reform the party’s functioning and its members’ conduct. Beginning at the end of 1994, resolutions to that effect were adopted by the only two bodies allowed to function, owing to the freeze on party mobilization activity, the National Executive Committee (NEC) and the Political Bureau.1 The composition of the NEC, the RPF’s highest governing body, had not been modified since its election during the most recent party congress in 1993. It was composed of the party president, Alexis Kanyarengwe, a former minister of President Habyarimana who had fled Rwanda in 1980 and then had been personally recruited by Fred Rwigema in 1988. The 149


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first vice president was Patrick Mazimpaka, a founding member of RANU and the RPF who had grown up in Uganda. The second vice president was Denis Polisi, who came from Burundi, and the secretary-general was Théogène Rudasingwa, who had also grown up in Uganda. A number of other commissioners filled out the NEC’s ranks. If the NEC was the movement’s executive body, then the Political Bureau was its deliberative body, which made policy decisions, gathering representatives from the various branches of the party (called regions) classified by country throughout the world. It was the Political Bureau that elected the NEC and the members of the various commissions. In the aftermath of the genocide, the Political Bureau was informally reorganized around its former members who were in Rwanda. In November 1994, General Kagame, vice president and defense minister, sent directives to the NEC concerning military marriage ceremonies adopted by the Army High Command. On a symbolic level, these forceful instructions contrasted with the dissolute social dynamics of the time but helped establish the ascetic reputation of General Kagame. Former refugees coming from outside the country, especially RPF military members, began to marry in large numbers, making up for time lost during the war and political mobilization when marriage was deemed not a priority. The instability and poverty that had preceded the war years had also prevented some of them from marrying. Several of these marriages gave rise to lavish spending (relative to the conditions of the time) and large fund-raising efforts to finance them. The increasing extravagance of these ceremonies led to powerful military officers becoming indebted to businesspeople. This situation fostered a level of excessive social expenditure that more modest officials could not imitate. The Army High Command forbade fund-raising for its military and decided that the institution was to organize the marriages of those who requested them. The consumption of alcohol at military wedding ceremonies was also forbidden; this practice influenced civilians as well.2 The first postgenocide attempt to restructure the RPF and set up mechanisms of accountability took place in September 1995, when a reconfigured Political Bureau was established. This new Political Bureau consisted almost exclusively of RPF members working in state institutions, from ministers to officials of state-owned companies such as banks and insurance companies, and included ambassadors and former commissioners. In its meeting of 23 September 1995, the Political Bureau, faced with the abusive behavior of several party leaders, asked that a leadership code of conduct be drawn up in the next two months and that a disciplinary committee that included the president and vice president of the republic be quickly established. The Political Bureau ordered the return of the party inspectorate and called for the government to establish the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) as provided for in the Arusha Accords. The last resolution of this meeting of the Political Bureau reiterated that “the presidency of the repub-



lic, with the support of the party and the government, had the heavy responsibility to create and insure implementation of the programs needed to bring about fundamental change.”3 It was also decided at that meeting to create new specialized committees attached to the NEC to support its activities. Thus, 13 commissions were established in January 1996, including one to develop the party program during the transition period, a disciplinary commission, a political commission as well as sectorial committees such as the justice, economic, and education commissions, and the inspectorate of the movement, which would draw up a leadership code of conduct.4 In March 1997, the NEC received the first report from four committees, which included the draft RPF Action Plan for the transition period and a draft leadership code of conduct. The NEC also learned that proposals to create the Bureau of the Auditor General and the Revenue Authority had been submitted to governmental bodies and that the Council of Ministers would soon examine them.5 The Political Bureau meeting of 23 April 1997 called for the eradication “of the evils still plaguing Rwanda,” specifically social divisions, whether based on ethnicity, region, gender, political party, religion, or the division between English-speaking and French-speaking Rwandans.6 The Question of Land and Property Ownership Because of dissension caused by conflicts over property, the RPF leaders focused on resolving this issue. The full NEC meeting of 18 June 1997, in the presence of President Pasteur Bizimungu and Vice President Kagame, exclusively dealt with the property question, both in cities and the countryside. The meeting began by reviewing the nature of the problem. It recalled that the party and the government had on several occasions requested that homes, land, and other goods be returned to their owners but that this had not been enforced because of a variety of difficulties. The assembly found that a number of genocide refugees who had returned to the country since July 1994 had been able to recover their goods, but others had not yet succeeded in doing so. Some proprietors had not dared claim their former property out of fear for their safety because others who had attempted to do so had suffered intimidation. Some of these people were forced to live in the countryside, abandoning their city homes. They were quite critical of the RPF. Others did not claim their property, not daring to return to the places where they lived because of the genocide-related crimes they had committed there.7 Property thieves did not always act out of necessity; some rented out these properties or fought among themselves over houses that did not belong to them. Some squatters, forced to leave these homes, vandalized them before leaving. The taking over of houses involved practices of corruption


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and theft. “Some people, especially some members of our movement, are allied with people working in the judicial system, in banks and the ministries to fraudulently auction off and buy up houses. It is corruption combined with conspiracy, it’s a mafia.”8 During the meeting, that was compared with the abusive practice of auctioning off individuals’ property during the Habyarimana regime. The meeting underscored the damage such practices caused to the movement because they denied any moral authority to the party leaders.9 Attendees of that meeting also discussed the fact that some people, unable to find housing, occupied houses illegally and needed help from the state. This problem included widows and orphans of the genocide, soldiers who maintained widows and orphans, destitute families, and young soldiers who were orphans themselves. Speedy adoption of a law to assist genocide survivors was called for in order to help these vulnerable categories as soon as possible. Among the resolutions adopted at that meeting were orders that prefects and other competent authorities return houses to their real owners rapidly and without any litigation. There was to be an increased awareness of illegal occupants, and local authorities were expected to accelerate allocation of land for building plots. It was also decided that the NEC should give serious thought to the issue of corruption, to the reprehensible actions and behavior of some of the movement’s officials, and impose severe sanctions on them. These facts presented a bad image of the movement and the government, and the longer it persisted, the more difficult it would prove to turn the situation around. “We, the ministers, deputies, senior officials, and members of the movement, should be the ones to set a good example and bring to an end a situation that affects the entire country.”10 The NEC meeting of 21 June 1997 focused on the question of land ownership in rural areas and areas where villages were being created. In some of these areas, particularly around Kibungo, land conflicts had caused a wave of murders among the 1959 and 1994 refugees. President Bizimungu began by reviewing the situation as described to him by the prefects of Byumba, Kibungo, and Mutara. Among the most sensitive questions were those concerning the 1959 refugees who had begun to take possession of their former land taken over by people who, in turn, had sought refuge outside the country in 1994 and later returned to claim it. This question became even more complex when a 1959 refugee, originally from another region—who said his land at that time had been confiscated—grabbed the former land of another 1959 refugee, land that belonged to a returning 1994 refugee. In these cases, three persons were arguing over the same piece of land.11 There was the question of genocide survivors—sometimes children— who took possession of vast tracts of land belonging to numerous massacred relatives, while in some neighborhoods people fought over a tiny bit



of land. Confiscating a part of the land of deceased relatives was problematic because this would appear to support the goals sought by the génocidaires, whose crimes had been motivated by the taking of their victims’ land. 12 The policy adopted by the government of creating villages had many shortcomings and lacked an adequate legal basis. Decisions had been made in haste in order to respond to emergency situations without prior planning or the concomitant introduction of supporting measures of services and basic infrastructure.13 After close study, the meeting, which called together the highest state officials, reaffirmed the mandatory nature of the villagization policy, given the circumstances, and the fact that the state owned the land in Rwanda. It was ordered that land be redistributed in accordance with each party’s needs.14 Efforts to reorganize the RPF and improve its governing policy proceeded while, it was widely known, some of its high-level civilian and military leaders displayed predatory behavior. These initial efforts toward internal reforms debated in Political Bureau and NEC meetings alluded only generally to this behavior and to its perpetrators. A more thorough attempt at self-criticism and self-appraisal that sought to maintain a consensus while preparing for future changes was to follow. Self-Criticism Leading to Institutional Changes

In an attempt to redress the situation within the party and put an end to the disorder the country was experiencing, the RPF’s leaders decided to closely examine the movement’s activities. On 5 June 1996, the NEC devoted a meeting to appraisal of the movement, especially assessing the behavior of its leaders and governing bodies of the party, specifically the NEC and the Political Bureau. Participants listed the misdeeds of members and leaders of the party at length as well as the party’s institutional weaknesses. At the level of individual behavior the following were presented: carelessness, arrogance and contempt, racketeering, corruption, theft, murder, the neglect of survivors, partisanship along ethnic lines, factionalism, and nepotism, among other problems. On the subject of the conduct of individuals toward the party, participants lamented the silence during meetings followed by criticisms voiced outside meetings, absenteeism with respect to movement meetings, officials working in governmental bodies avoiding one another, and more. At the level of institutional problems, the issues raised consisted of the poor operation of the NEC and Political Bureau, the lack of a forum making the accountability of its members feasible, fine words without corresponding action, inefficiency, a lack of follow-up on the part of movement officials, the lack of coordination, power-grabbing by government leaders,


In the Wake of Catastrophe

the absence of accountability mechanisms, and finally, the movement’s lack of political clarity.15 Participants noted that shortcomings were discussed during meetings, but only in general terms, without assigning any blame to those responsible for those shortcomings. A number of questions were raised that indicated some degree of helplessness. “Who is not performing well? If mistakes have been made, what must be done? What needs to happen to make the NEC operational? To whom should members be accountable? Is it the movement’s program, or the NEC’s? Fine things have been said: How will we put them into practice?”16 After the debates raised the question of individual responsibility and leadership, the solutions proposed by participants in the meeting recommended a mainly institutional approach. It was requested that written rules be developed, that structures of control and restructuring of the party be provided, that each person’s responsibilities be clarified, that those who made mistakes be prosecuted in court. “On the matter of the theft of public funds, a committee to examine the question must be established. . . . If people are ethnically sectarian, if they are corrupt, it is because they are not politicized. Therefore, the solution is to politicize leaders and mobilize all Rwandans.” Implementing the resolutions required follow-up, supervision, asking people to be accountable for their actions; it required a solid organization following a clear political line.17 The main conclusion of the meeting was to support the institutional strengthening of the party so that it might truly become “the motor of government” and move the country forward.18 The next NEC meeting, held at the end of August 1996, recalled the major ambitions of the movement: to bring about fundamental change in Rwandans’ ways of thinking and acting and to develop the country. To be clear, this meant fighting against ethnic partisanship and poverty, mainly by using mobilization strategies. Essentially this would be done through three strategies: (1) the establishment of the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission; (2) an informal process of political mobilization, including in the ministries and other state entities, accomplished through small groups of RPF officials, called task forces, in order to get around the interdiction of mass mobilization activities by political parties; (3) and the strengthening of the NEC. This last strategy called for, among other things, the establishment of a system of bureaucratic accountability; movement members holding positions of responsibility in the government had to present to the party a detailed action plan of the institutions they led. The party then verified its implementation. It was also requested that a stringent accountability system be established for members of government and particularly for those in positions of leadership. Lastly, a special committee was established to monitor the movement’s members with significant responsibilities, reporting to the Disciplinary Committee. Regarding ethnic sectarianism, one of the NEC’s other



major concerns, there was a proposal to create a national youth service to mobilize youth and the early establishment of the NURC.19 At the meeting of the Political Bureau on 8 February 1997, the political commission presented a draft of an eleven-point program that expanded the RPF’s original eight-point program.20 Eleven months after the first meeting, which had launched the self-appraisal process, a summary report of the two meetings that dealt with that topic was presented to the Political Bureau in May 1997, leading to intense discussion. The document echoed the criticisms expressed during the reported meetings, specifically the “corruption, greed, and nepotism” of several party leaders.21 This extensive report also recalled the party’s achievements in various sectors since the end of the genocide, especially on the issues of governance and mentioned proposals to create the National Tender Board, the Rwanda Revenue Authority, and the Office of the General Auditor. The Political Bureau, as it had been reinstated, was felt to be overly bureaucratic and did not adequately reflect the diversity of the movement’s members. The report proposed to open up the party to include ordinary people coming from many parts of the country with varied socioprofessional profiles. In reaction to that report, the Political Bureau members took up again the issue of the lack of a “project for society” for the party mentioned in that report and asked that concrete steps be taken to state a vision. This vision, it was recalled, had already been presented in the RPF’s original political program. It would be enough simply to update it, to make it more responsive to the new situation in which the movement and the country found themselves. Critics argued that the section of the report that reviewed the achieved results did not differentiate between RPF and government activities. Others responded by asking whether the RPF still existed. Participants in the debate called for a deeper examination of party reforms and party leadership in order to return to the original goals. People want to hear and see what the RPF has taught them, to see what was promised them realized; they want to see that those who represent them in government conduct themselves in a way that reflects the true values of the RPF, by being exemplary models of those values. . . . On the question of the corruption people are talking about, one participant declared that despite the existence of a Disciplinary Committee, evaluations and an audit would be needed, to identify those who had problems, and solve them. Another participant said: we spoke of collective responsibility but did not show individual responsibility.22

In response to these questions, the leadership recalled the political framework in which the RPF operated, consisting of a government of national unity. The movement had to use the structures of this government


In the Wake of Catastrophe

to mobilize Rwandans around its programs. The RPF had to be the government’s think tank. The transformation hoped for by the RPF had to occur in association with other political forces. On the issue of corruption, the leadership stressed that the best strategy was to develop institutions of governance responsible for the pursuit and punishment of guilty parties.23 As we have seen, in light of the perception that there was widespread endemic corruption and abusive behavior on the part of some civil and military officials, including RPF members, party leaders decided to do something. They began by trying to redress the situation through institutional reforms, but given widespread virulent discontent expressed by party members, the RPF leaders decided to clean house by changing the leadership. Two Steps of Internal Clarification The political clarification was carried out through two important meetings, one held in February and the other in December 1998, in the same Kigali venue located in Kicukiro neighborhood. Kicukiro I

An extraordinary consultative assembly serving as an RPF convention, usually referred to as Kicukiro I, was held on 14 and 15 February 1998.24 The meeting achieved important results.25 The first result was the decision to expand the RPF ranks through the work of the task forces mentioned above, which sought to discreetly mobilize politically within government institutions, given that political mobilization activities were officially suspended. The challenge was to adapt the RPF to the new national environment and move away from what it was in exile. The goal was to attract large numbers of new members to the party, namely those whom the party could not reach while in exile. This first goal aimed at sharing with all Rwandans and mobilizing them around the RPF’s ideas for change. The meeting’s second result was the decision to organize a national consultative assembly in order to thoroughly discuss strategies for the transformation of Rwanda, which would be carried out through the forthcoming Urugwiro Village discussions. In order “to ensure the correct implementation of these resolutions,” the consultative assembly elected a new NEC as well as a new Political Bureau. General Kagame was elected president of the party, while President Bizimungu became vice president of the RPF and Charles Murigande the secretary-general. There were seven commissioners in addition to these three members of the NEC steering committee, including four new members, Donald Kaberuka, Emilie Kayitesi, Munyanganizi Bikoro, and Berna-



dette Kanzayire along with the party stalwarts Tito Rutaremara, Protais Musoni, and Denis Polisi. Other long-standing party leaders with ministerial posts were not reappointed as commissioners, producing a change of guard in the national RPF leadership with substantial repercussions. A new 93member Political Bureau of members residing in Rwanda was created.26 The choice of General Kagame as president of the party, who had been the main advocate for the internal reform process in the NEC, sent out a strong signal of change.27 But this renewal of party leadership took place without any real debate during this Kicukiro consultative assembly. As a result, many RPF members who desired a more frank political explanation were left dissatisfied. On the list of grievances and recommendations that had been compiled for the next big meeting ten months later, Kicukiro II, party members who were consulted, referring to the Kicukiro I meeting, deplored the “lack of information concerning the changes among the movement’s governing bodies, particularly regarding possible failures of those who had been voted out of office.”28 However, the election of the new RPF governing team did not defuse criticism for long. Even stronger criticism broke out several months later. In its special issue of December 1998, the newspaper Le Tribun du Peuple published a retrospective view of the past year in politics entitled “Rwanda in a Time of Living Dangerously.” You swallow up the property of the state like mercenaries preparing to return where they come from, fighting among themselves to carry off the largest scrap. You have created training centers for thieves. You have created a clique [Akazu]. Akazu usually means favoring the people close to you, taking for yourself the property of the State, and being all-powerful. This is done by people who gravitate around political power. This is what we witness under this regime, thus the Akazu exists.29

The author echoed the running debate that at the end of 1998 dealt with the existence, or not, of an akazu. People are beginning to flee the country, but there are as many Tutsi as Hutu who are leaving. They are fleeing from the social injustice that plagues Rwanda; others escaping poverty say, when they arrive outside the country, that they are fleeing State persecution. The ranks of those who are leaving continue to swell. A mafia has infected the state: it has insinuated itself among certain politicians and high-ranking military officials, it has been introduced by businessmen who are experts in the embezzlement of state property in collaboration with people in power. These all-powerful people are unassailable, and they constitute the pillars of the Akazu.30

Returning to the subject of leadership changes in the RPF, Le Tribun du Peuple also wrote that “since its establishment eight months ago, certain party members maintain that this new executive committee had not changed


In the Wake of Catastrophe

much of anything.”31 In an article entitled “Not Only Incapable of Leading the State, the RPF Is in the Process of Failing to Govern Itself,” the newspaper Ukuri, itself close to the RPF, strongly criticized the movement. It explained that in fact the RPF never led the government. The RPF had kept quiet and existed only nominally in the Kimihurura neighborhood, where it did nothing. For Ukuri, the only goal of the RPF leadership change was to pacify people in order to maintain the status quo more easily. The “eminences” who had been set aside during the elections continued to work in party commissions as before. The editorial, referring to the new party president, Kagame , complained that, if he did not abdicate like the others, he should be quite concerned about the army and urged him to actually shoulder his responsibilities since he had accepted the call to lead the party.32 The party’s new secretary-general, Murigande, published a lengthy reply to the Ukuri editorial, setting out the party’s accomplishments since the end of the genocide. Sensing that the party’s internal legitimacy crisis was reaching a critical threshold, leaders decided to drain the abscess by organizing a big meeting, bringing together most of the party officials, during which everything would be put on the table. Kicukiro II

The meeting of the expanded Political Bureau, commonly called Kicukiro II, took place on 26 and 27 December 1998.33 Seeking to get to the bottom of things, the party’s secretary-general had organized prior consultation led by task forces during which party members’ ideas, criticisms, and wishes were collected. The meeting brought together 563 people, essentially party officials coming from former RPF regions during the period of exile. The results of this survey, echoing party members’ criticisms, were read out at the beginning of the meeting. At the opening session, the party’s secretarygeneral also asked that party officials with government portfolios speak only briefly in order to give ordinary party members an opportunity to speak. The meeting addressed issues such as the economy, the return of refugees, problems of property ownership, and justice, but it also brought up issues of politics such as collaboration with RPF’s political partners in the governing coalition and relations with the international community. The discussion began with a review of the operation of the justice system. At a certain point in time, the issue of false accusations and abusive imprisonment with a view to grabbing the properties of people accused of genocide was mentioned. Fairly rapidly the debates escaped their straitjacket devoted to sectors and extended into cases of injustice, abuse of power, and corruption. The meeting discussed at length and with passion the question of the akazu. After snide references were made by some party



members, Secretary-General Murigande addressed the subject head on, elaborating the various accusations uttered against prominent RPF leaders in the press. In doing this, he emphasized the contradictions within certain accusations of nepotism and their lack of a basis. Some ordinary party officials also reacted against accusations of belonging to the akazu, pointing out that in the beginning RPF membership was adopted within the framework of the family or among students attending the same schools. It was, therefore, quite natural that these early adopters, very close to one another, had together taken up positions of leadership. One speaker requested that the issue not be summarily glossed over because it was widely being raised throughout the cells of the party base. The discussion ended by changing the subject from the akazu to other problems of governance within the movement. Speakers stressed the existing sense of discomfort and asked that accusations of nepotism and corruption, particularly in cases of sudden and rapid enrichment of influential party members, be brought to light. Several prominent government officials were mentioned. One speaker, a self-designated spokesperson for RPF soldiers’ widows and their children, observed how each group was turning its back to the other. For her, quarrels over corruption involved the wealthy, who envied one another. She warned them that if nothing were done, demobilized armed youth and their friends under the command of robber colonels and captains who refused to share would not remain inactive while their families languished in poverty and lived under tarps. Whether it was the secretary-general who soft-pedaled certain accusations made against prominent party members or certain officials who, directly challenged, expressed and defended themselves, both groups responded far less to the rather moderate statements made in the meeting room and much more to the accusations circulating among the movement’s officials and appearing in the newspapers. The party’s secretary-general and certain vocal officials also accused the party cadres in attendance of malicious gossip. A former mayor of Kigali, often taken to task in the newspapers, declared that the party cadre had deeply wounded her by their unjust and unending insults. She felt her only mistake might have been having obtained a bank loan to build a house, a loan that she would have difficulty repaying. Party president General Kagame made a speech to conclude this first day. Taking the opposing view in contrast to the officials who had spoken earlier, he made no effort to hide the issue of corruption but, instead, pointed out its complexity. He accused some of the party cadres of ambivalence concerning this issue and attributed their criticism to envy rather than principled condemnation. Putting the notion of the akazu in perspective, he chose to highlight the unacceptable nature of certain


In the Wake of Catastrophe

injustices, such as making false accusations of participation in the genocide in order to appropriate the property of the accused, announcing that many people were in prison for their involvement in such machinations and even for having murdered people for their property. However, he pointed out that these practices were disappearing. He wanted to know whether the RPF had not in fact fought against the preceding corrupt regime only to act the same way. If that were the case, he was ready to separate himself from that. He observed that accusations of corruption often concerned only modest assets; to him, this revealed the depth of the serious poverty with which the country was struggling. He explained that his strategy to combat corruption involved three phases: establishing institutions of accountability and transparency, promoting awareness of corruption, and then applying severe sanctions, beginning with party members. He added that the party needed to promote the local elections being prepared so that the local population would be able to choose its own leaders. Even as he recognized the challenges of organizing such an enterprise in the current situation, he stated that the party must not use these circumstances as a self-protective strategy, shielding itself from the judgment of the voters. In response to his being directly called into question by newspapers for not acting decisively enough against the akazu, he explained that some cases were politically sensitive, clearly alluding to members of partner parties in government, and that, for the sake of national stability and in order to strike significantly against corruption at a later time, one sometimes had to delay action. On the matter of corrupt RPF members, he remarked that the country lacked human resources and that certain persons accused of corruption also provided valuable services to the country, while at times their potential replacements were not really much cleaner or more honest. He ended his speech by strongly refuting allegations that he was part of the akazu and denied that he supported or tolerated it. He energetically affirmed that he did not accept the akazu, and that on the contrary, he would vigorously fight against it. The meeting’s second day continued with the presentation of sectorial issues in a relaxed atmosphere. The closing speech of the two-day meeting, delivered by Kagame, took on the party cadres in attendance, insisting on their responsibilities. I would like to ask you a question: You have a political movement, but do you believe in it? Do you love it? . . . You can change it, completely remake it if you wish, but then you must feel that it is yours, that you have obligations to meet with respect to it. . . . We have a duty to love and support it, to build it up and even to criticize it in a constructive way. Have you seen people who are not proud of their own organization, who do not see themselves reflected in it? Transform it as you like, but ultimately you



must identify with it. If the problem is its leaders, change them until you can say that these leaders represent you. For the RPF party cadre, the leaders have become criminals! Approach them and demand an accounting from them. These leaders cannot be an eternal problem: correct them, educate them, or change them, but at the end, if you have leaders you must identify with them, as they must with you. For me, this is the principal issue within our organization. The second thing I ask of you is to have a clear ideological line.34

The final resolutions of the expanded Political Bureau meeting specifically condemned corruption, cronyism, nepotism, embezzlement, arrogance, abuse of power, and intimidation. The usual institutional and technocratic solutions were again recommended. However, several days later, newspaper articles summed up this feeling about Kicukiro II, which was also expressed in other publications. It took note of this “outpouring of truths with unpredictable consequences.”35 Campaign Against Corruption The consequences of Kicukiro II were not long in coming. A cabinet reshuffle took place on 10 February 1999, initially targeting RPF ministers. Out of the five dismissed ministers, four were from the RPF. Other leading politicians affected by scandals were also dismissed.36 These politicians were the first to pay the price of political reorganization within the RPF. A considerable number of other political leaders within the RPF, from other parties, were to follow. However, for certain influential and early members of the RPF this political sanction was temporary; many repented and were rapidly assigned to other positions that, although senior, did not carry the same influence as before. Ministers of the RPF’s partner parties began to resign for various reasons toward the end of 1998.37 That trend grew during the second half of 1999. The RPF congress at Mulindi, organized between 9 and 11 July 1999, validated the earlier internal process and decided to deepen the fight against corruption. To accomplish this, an NEC ad hoc committee was set up to supplement the Disciplinary Committee. In the context of NEC discussions related to this commission’s duties, party president General Kagame made a request to RPF deputies that the National Assembly increase its monitoring of government activities and make full use of its prerogatives.38 At the beginning of October 1999, Charles Ntakirutinka (Social Democratic Party, or PSD), the minister for social affairs, and Anastase Gasana (Republican Democratic Movement, or MDR), the minister to the presidency, were victims of a censure motion after a parliamentary inquiry commission found them guilty of corruption. Marc Rugenera (PSD), the minister of


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finances, barely escaped censure. In December 1999, Laurien Ngirabanzi (MDR), the secretary of state for agriculture, resigned acknowledging embezzlement of funds. In the meantime, two RPF ministers were under investigation: Patrick Mazimhaka (RPF), minister to the presidency for his management of the Ministry for Integration, and Emmanuel Mudidi (RPF), minister for education. On 6 January 2000, the president of the National Assembly, Joseph Sebarenzi (Liberal Party, or PL), tendered his resignation.39 He was a victim of a conflict with the RPF leadership on the directions to give to the parliament’s control of government activities. On 17 February 2000, a second parliamentary commission of inquiry on corruption began its work, investigating Prime Minister Pierre-Célestin Rwigema (MDR). This new inquiry was discussed in the NEC, and a decision was made that the prime minister and his entire government should resign because of the large number of parliamentary inquiries. They all should be replaced by people not compromised by corruption.40 On 28 February 2000, Prime Minister Rwigema announced his resignation along with that of his government. The activism demonstrated by the National Assembly and the censure motions it had made against the ministers began to cause tensions between President Bizimungu and the other NEC members within the RPF. The creation of a new government following Rwigema’s resignation—a process that took three weeks—sparked a crisis within the party focused on President Bizimungu. The blocking of the creation of a new government was based on President Bizimungu’s wish to rename Mazimhaka to the government despite his being the subject of a parliamentary inquiry. President Bizimungu also complained about a lack of respect from the RPF leadership and his consequent isolation. One of his main sources of support among the RPF leadership was General Kayumba Nyamwasa, whose dissidence dates from that time onward.41 The Political Bureau meeting of 24 March 2000 examined the causes of this crisis and tracked the history of the conflict between the RPF leadership and President Bizimungu beginning with the parliament’s action to control the government after the Mulindi congress, which had formally made a priority of fighting against corruption. The Political Bureau ascribed his isolation to his personality and uncooperative working methods.42 President Bizimungu had been opposed to the draft law on parliamentary control of the executive, which was drawn up at the initiative of parliament. On 25 January 1996, he had sent the draft bill back to the Supreme Court, challenging the bill’s constitutionality. On 24 October 1996, the president of the republic reiterated his reservations regarding the law, which, in his view, would provoke conflict between the executive and the legislative branches. According to the legislation existing at that time, if after more than ten days the president of the republic had not signed a bill



submitted to him by the National Assembly, its president could sign the bill in his place and so enact it. Juvénal Nkusi, president of the National Assembly at that time, had not dared sign the bill, nor had his successor, Sebarenzi. After it sat more than two years in his desk drawer, President Bizimungu finally, but only halfheartedly, signed the bill into law.43 On 20 March 2000, a new government was installed with the MDR Bernard Makuza as prime minister. At the swearing-in ceremony of new ministers, President Bizimungu expressed his objections to parliamentary inquiries, reproaching them for their selectivity and their potential to ignore the law and spread confusion. Three days later, on 23 March 2000, President Bizimungu wrote to the president of the National Assembly announcing his resignation for personal reasons, and that same day, he stepped down from his position in the RPF. The following day, in an extraordinary session of parliament, he was accused of tax fraud, illegal confiscation of lands belonging to the inhabitants of Masaka, and showing opposition to the campaign against corruption out of fear of being brought into question himself.44 Vice President Kagame assumed power during the interim. On 17 April 2000, after resigning from the army, during a joint session of the government and the National Assembly, Kagame was elected president of the republic by a vote of 81 to 5. On 19 July 1999, a law revising the constitution had extended the transition period by four years, until July 2003. At least partially induced by the public debates mentioned above, this start of the second part of the transition saw a new wave of political defections. Among those leaving the country were several leaders of the genocide survivors, business leaders who bore the brunt of these anticorruption actions, and also military from the RPA. After the ministerial reshuffle of February 1999, political and administrative sanctions against politicians involved in corruption continued and even intensified. A new wave of sanctions, this time more penalizing, was adopted, including firings and even legal proceedings. Newspapers devoted much attention to large-scale corruption and bank fraud that weakened the banking sector. The risk of a solvency crisis rapidly grew in most private banks, requiring the Banque Nationale du Rwanda (BNR) to intervene. In 1998, the five commercial banks of the country were audited by an international company commissioned by the government. The audit of their post-1994 activities found dubious practices and a disastrous situation in three out of four banks: BANCOR, BCR, and BCDI. The percentage of nonperforming loans in all the commercial banks had grown from 10 percent in 1993 to 20 percent at the end of 1997 and then to 60 percent by mid-1999. Even the most basic rules for granting credit were often not being respected. Bank guarantees were overvalued, not provided, expired, or simply nonexistent. Loans were granted without signature, and others were made for an amount that exceeded 25 percent of a bank’s capital to a single


In the Wake of Catastrophe

borrower or to one project operated by several associates. Shareholders received loans and never repaid them. Some banks were incapable of keeping their ledgers straight.45 The banks’ bad loans and general undercapitalization presented a risk of bankrupting the financial system. In addition to the pressure of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that commercial banks in difficulty not be saved with public money, the government seized this opportunity to put an end to a source of political difficulties. It favored the restructuring of these banks through the entry of foreign interests in their capital. By raising the minimum capitalization requirements and by raising management criteria, the BNR forced the three commercial banks in difficulty to cede their control to foreign banks. Backed by an ad hoc ministerial commission, the BNR took steps to aggressively recover debts due to the banks by supervising the restructuring of reimbursement dates, by having property seized, and by publishing in the newspapers lists of debtors with their names and the amounts they owed.46 Part of the country’s political and military elite turned up at the head of these lists. Redressing banking practices and the passage under foreign management of the commercial banks helped change the business culture by instilling more rigor. They also contributed to calm the greed of government officials and decrease ostentatious displays by depriving them of easy money. Professionalization of the banking sector and entry into the market of new microcredit institutions made possible a democratization of access to credit. A few years later, the anticorruption campaign targeting high-level officials resumed. In December 2004, Sam Nkusi, the secretary of state for energy and infrastructure, submitted his resignation over allegations of conflict of interest and abuse of office.47 In its issue at the beginning of January 2004, the journal Umuseso published an article based on World Bank documents on the nonreimbursement of debts by some officials to local banks. The name of the vice president of the Supreme Court, Gerald Gahima, appointed two months earlier, appeared among those most in debt and the worst payers.48 Two weeks later, he resigned almost at the same time that his brother and business associate, Théogène Rudasingwa, the president’s chief of staff, asked for leave.49 In 2005, the first legal proceedings of RPF leaders set off a new stage in combating corruption. The mayor of Kigali, Théoneste Mutsindashyaka (RPF), the minister of agriculture, Patrick Habamenshi (independent), the president’s former chief of staff, Rudasingwa (RPF), and ambassadors Jacques Bihozagara (RPF) and Pascal Ngoga (RPF) were indicted for fraud in the awarding of contracts.50 At the time legal proceedings began and resignations continued, Ugandan newspapers started spreading rumors of a coup d’état in preparation in Rwanda, reflecting the seriousness of underlying antagonisms.51



This phase of the combat against corruption was the outcome of a political process that began in 1998 that deeply changed the nature of governance in the country. This process also marked a transformation of power relationships within the RPF as well as in the rest of the country’s political class, characterized by the centralization of power around President Kagame. However, efforts by the RPF leaders to reform governance within the party and the government were only one aspect of the agenda for change. The search for more equitable governance and the political ramifications it would bring, beyond their intrinsic value, was understood by the movement’s leaders as the premise in the search for solutions to the structural problems with which the country was confronted. The second phase of the change consisted of the preparation, together with other political and social forces, of a program platform aimed at solving these root problems. For that purpose, the RPF organized a forum to draft a platform and a shared approach, commonly referred to as the Urugwiro Village discussions, from which was to emerge the vision and main political and developmental orientations underpinning the process of reconstructing the country.52 Urugwiro Village Discussions The idea of organizing political discussions to find structural solutions to basic problems with which the country was confronted came out of the deliberations of the RPF Special Consultative Assembly held on 14 and 15 February 1998 (Kicukiro I). These discussions were conceived as one of the three elements of the strategy aimed at making the RPF “the motor of government that would bring about real change in the country.”53 According to the RPF general secretariat, these discussions among the RPF partner political parties were meant to result in a “minimal political program” of government to prepare for ending the transition period.54 A preparatory meeting of the NEC, RPF ministers, and congress members was held before the beginning of the Urugwiro Village discussions. Speaking to RPF senior cadres, General Kagame, president of the movement, declared that these discussions should “solve the country’s basic problems and lead to development.” 55 He explained that he appreciated the results of the discussions that had been going on for some time within the party about topics such as national unity, democracy, security, the country’s economy, and justice. But according to him, the movement must avoid imposing its ideas on others. Others should be involved in the discussions, allowing them to make a contribution in ideas that they would accept, thus avoiding any unnecessary resistance. Furthermore, he stressed that the basic role of the RPF was a role of guiding the process. For that, the party cadres had to prepare in advance in order to have a


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shared vision and feel involved in a mission. Taking the example of justice, Kagame explained that the RPF members did not share the same interpretation of the issue. “The issue of genocide is complex. We must deal with it by looking to the country’s future and avoiding becoming hostages to emotions, feelings, or technical considerations, retaining a sense of sacrifice.”56 The meeting covered the various topics that would be brought up during the larger Urugwiro Village discussions in order to agree on a common position. As for the country’s history, which determined the issue of national unity, it was agreed that professional historians and politicians should become involved. The question should be approached with an open mind. There should be no trials or arguments about who was right or wrong but rather all would search for the truth in order to reconstruct the nation. As for the political system, the choice was for participatory democracy that unites rather than divides. It was proposed to hold local elections soon.57 The Urugwiro Village discussions extended from May 1998 to March 1999 with meetings every Saturday but for a few exceptional occasions. They brought together 164 persons from all the approved political parties, representatives of government institutions, ministries, parliament, the army and the gendarmerie, the judicial sector, banks, and scholars at the national university. Several persons were invited individually because of the important roles that they had played in the country’s recent and earlier history. Among these were the three leading nationalist administrative chiefs from the end of the colonial period, Michel Kayihura, Pierre Mungarulire, and Jean Chrysostome Rwangombwa, but also, for example, André Nkeramugaba, the former Parmehutu prefect, principal organizer of the 1963–1964 massacres in his prefecture of Gikongoro, and even Colonel Aloys Nsekalije, a very influential figure under the Habyarimana regime who moved away from that regime’s later genocidal drift.58 The general public obtained indirect information about part of these discussions, namely those regarding the question of national unity. It was dealt with through a retrospective of Rwanda’s history from its origins with a focus on the end of the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s, based on testimony of some of the main protagonists from that period. On Sundays, a broadcast of Radio Rwanda, “Kubaza Bitera Kumenya” (“Ask and You Shall Learn”), with the participation of investigative journalists, in parallel to official discussions, interviewed eyewitnesses of the past, sometimes lasting more than four hours, to the pleasure of many listeners glued to their radios. A feeling that something important was happening became evident to a number of observers. In December 1998, Le Tribun du Peuple prudently asked the question of whether, with the Urugwiro Village discussions, “Bizimungu and Kagame were finally unlocking the door that would allow Rwanda to deal with its problems.”59



The discussions were organized into five topics: national unity, the question of democracy, questions concerning justice, the economy, and security. National Unity This issue was discussed in detail at the beginning and at the end of the assembly. The assembly reviewed the various episodes of conflict that had marked Rwanda’s history since the colonial period, focusing on the 1994 genocide. Then it looked at the efforts at reconciliation that had been made since the end of the genocide, the formation of the government of national unity, the return of refugees, the insertion of all elements of the population in government institutions, repression of acts of vengeance, and sessions to promote awareness of national unity among local populations. Despite all these efforts, it was found that even though Rwandans now lived together and cooperated peacefully in various activities, a divide of suspicion still separated Hutus and Tutsis. The assembly discussed the question of whether unity among Rwandans had ever existed in the country’s history and, if yes, when and how it had collapsed and what must be done to restore it. Discussions were organized around three historical periods: precolonization, during colonization, and postindependence. After an initial discussion, a commission made up of professional historians and political public figures was created that presented a report structured around the three historical periods mentioned. The consensus that was reached was that Rwandans were united before colonization, based on the fact that the main criterion of social identification at that time was the plural-ethnic clan and not a single ethnic identity, even if a notion of an ethnic group existed. All clans included Hutus, Tutsis, and Twas, and belonging to the same clan produced a strong feeling of identification and solidarity. The second criterion of unity was the sharing of a single culture, namely language, traditions, and religious rites. The third was the fact that the three ethnic groups shared a strong Rwandan national identity, having lived under the same royal authority, and that the most important administrative instance had two heads, with one chief for issues of land use, usually a Hutu, and another chief for grazing issues, usually a Tutsi, but in the north of the country 80 percent of local chiefs were Hutus. The army was also made up of members of the three ethnic groups. The report stressed that traditional Rwanda also had social conflicts between the wealthy and the poor that could be found in all the clans without making some feel more Rwandan than the others. The true rupture was caused by colonization, which introduced the notion of a superior race identified with the Tutsis and an inferior associated with the Hutus in Rwanda. The colonial administration removed all the traditional Hutu public figures


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and gave the monopoly of indigenous power to the Tutsis. The report brought out the collaboration of the Tutsi chiefs and subchiefs with the colonial administration, who profited from their privileges. It emphasized the extremely harmful role played on interethnic relations of the various types of forced labor imposed by the colonial administration, to which Hutus and Tutsis were submitted but that was administered by Tutsi chiefs and subchiefs, toward whom hatred was directed. The report considered that the struggle for independence begun by these traditional Tutsi colonial administrators was initially aimed at simply taking over power. It was therefore understandable that the Hutus did not trust the Tutsi chiefs, subchiefs, and the king that once independence was achieved, the Tutsi leaders would integrate the Hutus into the education system and the spheres of power because they never expressed that aspiration before. The MDR-Parmehutu took advantage of the conflict between the traditional aristocracy and the colonial administration to spread hatred among Rwandans for political ends. This party distorted the country’s history by claiming that the Tutsis had dominated the Hutus for 400 years and made all Tutsis responsible for colonial forced labor and other abuse. Rwanda had gained independence under the auspices of the MDRParmehutu after widespread massacres, campaigns to burn down Tutsi properties, and the exile of part of their community. Instead of reconciling Rwandans after the events of 1959–1962, the MDR-Parmehutu governed the country on the basis of systematic ethnic discrimination. The Tutsis who had fled the country tried to return by force, giving MDR-Parmehutu the pretext to massacre the Tutsis who had remained in Rwanda. Although the MDRParmehutu claimed to defend the Hutus’ interests, it soon began to discriminate and exclude some of these same Hutus on a regional basis, causing its fall in 1973. The commission’s report was validated by the assembly, although some more precise edits were requested. At the second session of the discussions, on 23 May 1998, the MDR submitted to the assembly a document entitled “The MDR Party’s Contribution in Finding Solutions to the Problems That Are Wracking Rwanda.” The official report of the discussions shows the MDR opposed almost point by point the consensus that had appeared following a long discussion of the first session. The MDR document argued that before colonization, there was no unity among Rwandans because the Hutus were oppressed by the Tutsis and that this oppression had continued during colonization. It did not accept the idea that German and then Belgian colonizers or the League of Nations, the United Nations, or the Catholic Church had contributed to breaking down the unity of Rwandans, but rather put the blame on the Rwandan monarchy. The MDR stated that contrary to what had been said, the colonial administration and the Catholic Church had played no role in the creation



of Hutu political parties on the eve of independence. It claimed that what happened in 1959 was indeed a revolution that had raised the idea of democracy and a republic and that it had been backed by many Rwandans. And that Hutus and Tutsis killed each other during this revolution. For the MDR, the Parmehutu party was initially a force for good, but it had gone off course when Rwanda became a party-state in 1964. The document submitted by the MDR stated that the violence that occurred in 1973 was a conflict between Hutus and Tutsis. The MDR admitted that President Habyarimana’s National Revolutionary Movement for Development (MRND) had become a party-state that silenced citizens and ignored the question of the refugees. While the RPF in 1990 had opted for the use of violence, the MDR had on the contrary chosen the path of political struggle. It recognized that the political parties that appeared during the democratization in the 1990s had no political program. That was why the members of the new MDR decided to resuscitate the party because many people knew it, and since people understood the history of the old MDR, they would follow the new MDR. According to the official report of the discussions summarizing the MDR document, the MDR maintained that after the genocide all Hutus were considered killers, which was the reason for the insurgency in the north of the country. Regarding the current situation of divisions within the country, the MDR document claimed that to the long-standing natural regions of Nguga (center and south) and Rukiga and Bushiru (north), which was the basis for regional antagonisms during the First and Second Republic, should now be added Mutara in the east, the new region of the Tutsis, who were governing the country. For the MDR, among the reasons for division among Rwandans there was the fact that Rwandans were returning from exile from various countries, and those speaking English discriminated against French speakers in employment. The MDR deplored the fact that the 1994 refugees who returned did not find work although they had the required qualifications. This report led to heated discussions. Those who spoke took apart the MDR arguments point by point. Speakers asserted that the MDR’s document was proof that the party was still harboring the MDR-Parmehutu ideology. The MDR was said to believe that Rwanda belonged solely to Hutus; therefore the Hutus had no reason to join with other Rwandans to run the country. In light of such a hostile reaction, the MDR leaders went back to inform their Political Bureau about the criticism that had been raised about its document. The MDR later brought a revised document that aligned with the assembly’s opinion. Talks about national unity over the first and second weeks of discussions produced a number of resolutions. Several were affirmations of principles and ethical recommendations. Others called for specific actions, including these main points:


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• The creation of political schools to train people in good governance; • Drafting of a code of conduct for leaders; • Early creation of the National Commission for Unity and Reconciliation provided for in the Arusha Accords; • Creation of a democracy that met the country’s problems but that did not necessarily copy conventional practices adopted elsewhere; • Establishment of mechanisms that discouraged those who hindered national unity and justice and that punished those who promoted discrimination; • Changes in the country’s symbols, including the national anthem, the national flag, and the country’s seal; • Development of the country economically so that Rwandans would have sufficient means of subsistence to prevent conflicts and reinforce national unity; • The government was to be nonreligious, and religions must promote national unity; • The nature and functioning of the political parties was to be monitored to ensure that they were not a source of division. Democracy During the introductory presentation of this theme, the convening party explained that the idea of democracy had been misunderstood in Rwanda. At the end of the colonial period, the colonists had begun to spread the idea that “the Hutu majority” had been oppressed by the Tutsis and that they had to liberate themselves. This led to killings, destruction, and injustices. Local people and educated people took that to be an expression of democracy. During discussions of this issue, the assembly decided that the universally accepted principles of democracy should be unconditionally respected, the challenge being the way they were to be implemented. Democracy should not be a passing fad but rather an organic process that provides answers to Rwandans’ problems. It was stressed that in Africa political parties were based on identity criteria such as ethnic group, region, and religion, which was not the case in the developed countries, where political parties were based on policy ideas concerning management of the economy and the well-being of inhabitants. The political parties in Rwanda did not address the population’s aspirations and its everyday problems. In order to meet these aspirations and establish a democracy that met the country’s needs, it was decided to create “a participatory democracy,” which would allow people to be involved in the decisionmaking process.



This would take place through elections at the local level, beginning with those of the smallest administrative unit, the nyumba kumi (ten houses), then by cells, and finally at the level of sectors. These elections were to be held without the participation of the political parties. 60 It was also decided to draft a code of conduct for leaders and to create a constitutional commission. Justice Two aspects of this issue were discussed: those concerning trials for crimes linked to the genocide and those concerning the functioning of the judiciary sector in general. In the case of crimes of genocide, it was found that two years after promulgation of the 1996 law for the punishment of crimes committed during the genocide, fewer than 1,000 trials had been held, and there were 135,000 prisoners being held for the crime of genocide, which represented only a small number of potential perpetrators. Many others were still free. The 1996 law established categories for prisoners based on the seriousness of the accusations and created a procedure for pleading guilty that would reduce sentences. The proposal of creating traditional Gacaca courts was introduced, in which local populations would render justice themselves. The adoption of Gacaca jurisdictions would meet the goals of punishing criminals and combating historic impunity in Rwanda while reconciling Rwandans through a process of participatory justice. Heated debates ensued: some questioned the idea that such serious crimes could be fairly judged by a poorly educated population open to potential corruption; others thought Gacaca jurisdictions would lead to the banalization of the crime of genocide. These objections and many others were discussed and then discarded with the decision to adopt Gacaca jurisdictions. A commission of experts was given the task of preparing and presenting to the assembly a draft constitution of these jurisdictions that was discussed in detail and then adopted. As for the functioning of the judiciary sector in general, a large part of the discussions dealt with corruption in this sector. Other judiciary dysfunctions were examined, including the question of injustice. The most important resolutions concerning the issue of justice were: • The creation of a mechanism for declaring patrimony for politicians and judges, renewed and updated every year; • Naming of an ombudsman and government inspector general; • Reinforcement of the system of inspection for courts and sanctioning of incompetent and corrupt judges; • The creation of professional associations of judges and attorneys;


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• The creation of a commission to prepare a broad reform of the judiciary sector. The Economy On the basis of the document entitled “Rwanda’s Economic Vision to 2020,” the minister for finances and economic planning, Donald Kaberuka, presented an exhaustive description of the past, the present, and the future vision of the country’s economic situation. 61 According to his presentation, the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) had recorded strong growth after the genocide, which reached 94 percent of pre-1994 GDP. Inflation during 1998 was only 4 percent, and the Rwandan franc was relatively stable. Nevertheless, 92 percent of the government’s investment budget depended on international aid and 25 percent of the operating budget did. There were a very large number of vulnerable persons. There were one million school-age youth who did not go to school and who had no training. Rwanda suffered from a very unbalanced export deficit with US$70 million in exports against US$350 million of imports. The manufacturing sector suffered serious difficulties. As for economic governance, 90 percent of the population contributed only very marginally to Rwanda’s economy. Disrespect for the law was a common practice in business. In the public sector, some people appropriated government resources. After the genocide, citizens no longer trusted the government, other citizens, or even the benefits of hard work. Because of a lack of confidence in the future, economic activities were limited to speculation. Minister Kaberuka stressed the structural factors that held back the country’s economic development, such as the fact that most of the economy was based on subsistence agriculture, a lack of natural resources, its landlocked position, the lack of skilled labor, a large proportion of dependents with around 50 percent of the population younger than fifteen years old, an almost nonexistent middle class, and a small domestic market. The assembly’s deliberations on the issue of the economy focused specifically on the question of producing electricity—namely the project to exploit methane gas in Lake Kivu. Resolutions were adopted on issues related to the country’s strategic challenges, such as issues of governance, transformation of agriculture, development of new technologies, raising ethical work standards, the training of human resources, the role of the government in supporting the private sector, and economic dependence versus international aid. The assembly also stressed the need to decrease the effects of being landlocked through a policy of regional integration and the search for easier, less expensive access to the sea. It also called



for the drafting of an economic transformation plan to guide the country’s development through 2020. Security The issue of security was copresented by the army chief of staff, Brigadier General Kayumba Nyamwasa, and by the chief of staff of the national police force, Brigadier General Marcel Gatsinzi. General Kayumba explained that Rwandans lived in fear because of what had occurred in the country. They were afraid that another genocide might occur and did not trust other citizens or the government. This fear had been increased by propaganda spread by rebels in the north whose sole purpose was killing. According to General Kayumba, there was a time when people identified the government of national unity with the Tutsis, while others spread the rumor that the Tutsis would seek revenge and exterminate the Hutus. Certain leaders spread harmful ideas, which did not build confidence but instead spread confusion among local populations. Ministers and other officials fled the country. A poorly defined housing policy was causing property conflicts, people lived in close proximity without knowing each other, and nothing had been planned to improve neighborly relations and decrease distrust. The refugee camps on the borders were populated by ex-FAR soldiers, Interahamwe members, and ordinary people who had been indoctrinated to kill. These camps posed a threat to the country, where infiltrators mobilized by “RDR ideas (Mugunga policy)” originated. After the camps had been dismantled, the infiltrators regrouped at the end of 1996 and the beginning of 1997, and when they attacked, civilians killed civilians and destroyed infrastructure. The army confronted the troublemakers, and Rwandans were mobilized through awareness camps (ingando). Rwandans needed to become more involved in productive activities and improving their living standards. Productive work would take their minds off the killing, and by cooperating, the various groups would learn to know each other better and to get along with each other. General Kayumba ended his presentation with a reference to the war in the Congo. He explained that the regime in that country had backed the forces that had committed the genocide and who wanted to continue it and that if Rwanda had not reacted, the war that was then taking place in the Congo would take place in Rwanda. Intervention in the Congo made it possible to improve security throughout the country and allowed subsistence farmers to take up their productive activities, resulting in a significant drop in external food assistance. General Gatsinzi spoke of collaboration between the national police and the army in reestablishing security, namely through the work of the judiciary


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police. He explained that in the killing denounced by international organizations, many civilians were killed by the infiltrators themselves, others died in combat, and others were themselves infiltrators. The number of deaths had significantly decreased following the offensive of the security forces. In conclusion, two overriding national orientations emerged from the Urugwiro Village discussions for the transformation of the country: strengthening national unity should be the ultimate goal toward which all policies must converge, and these policies must put the citizens at the center of politics and development strategies. A double strategy was adopted to achieve that: basic economic development and depoliticization of public administration, restricting the activities of the political parties. Some major national programs came out of the Urugwiro Village discussions to determine the future orientation of the country: the 2003 constitution, Gacaca courts, Vision 2020, decentralization and local development policy, plus others.62 In the end, especially concerning local governance, the RPF’s “progressive” orientations prevailed. These were focused on the notion of consensual participatory democracy at the expense of more liberal approaches based on political competition. The Urugwiro Village discussions stood out because of their bias in favor of independence of thought and homegrown solutions. They adopted solutions that they considered to be the best for the specific challenges the country was facing at that time, without overly worrying about what the outside world would think. Notes 1. The restrictions imposed on sectarian activities by the transitional constitutional provisions resulted in the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) being the only political party authorized to exist. 2. Rwandan Patriotic Front, minutes, Political Bureau meeting, 7 November 1994. 3. Rwandan Patriotic Front, resolutions, Political Bureau meeting, 23 September 1995. 4. Rwandan Patriotic Front, minutes, National Executive Committee meeting, March 1997. 5. Ibid. 6. Rwandan Patriotic Front, minutes, meeting, 23 April 1997. The language issue refers to social tensions between English speakers and French speakers. 7. Rwandan Patriotic Front, minutes, National Executive Committee meeting, 18 June 1997. 8. Ibid. 9. Ibid. 10. Ibid. 11. Rwandan Patriotic Front, minutes, National Executive Committee meeting, 21 June 1997. 12. Ibid. 13. Ibid.



14. Ibid. 15. Rwandan Patriotic Front, minutes, Political Bureau meeting, 5 May 1997. 16. Ibid. 17. Ibid. 18. Ibid. 19. Rwandan Patriotic Front, minutes, National Executive Committee meeting, 27 August 1996. 20. The 11 points are unity and reconciliation, security, creation of a democracy that meets Rwandans’ needs, combatting corruption, administrative and institutional reform in order to increase efficiency, economic development, finding a definitive solution to the issue of refugees, improvement of the standard of living of local inhabitants, transformation of ties with international cooperation, and reform of the educational system. Rwandan Patriotic Front, minutes, Political Bureau meeting, 8 February 1997. 21. Rwandan Patriotic Front, minutes, National Executive Committee meeting, 5 May 1997. 22. Ibid. 23. Ibid. 24. It was a joint meeting of the congress and the Political Bureau of representatives of the members of all regions and institutions, as they existed at the time of the most recent congress in December 1993, held by the RPF in the occupied zone, adapted in light of the new situation. 25. Secretariat, Rwandan Patriotic Front, Activities Report of the RPF-Inkotanyi movement, 16 February 1998–19 June 1998. 26. Ibid. 27. G. M., interview with author, 27 June 2015, Kigali; M. G., interview with author, 18 April 2016, Kigali. 28. Rwandan Patriotic Front, DVD No. 104, “Meeting of the Extended Political Bureau, Kicukiro II,” secretariat archives. 29. Editorial, Le Tribun du Peuple, December 1998. 30. Ibid. 31. “Changes Within the RPF in 1998,” Le Tribun du Peuple, December 1998. 32. Casimir Kayumba, editorial, Ukuri 2, no. 82 (1998). 33. Information about this meeting is taken from the following sources: Rwandan Patriotic Front, DVD Nos. 103–107, “Meeting of the Extended Political Bureau, Kicukiro II,” secretariat archives. 34. Rwandan Patriotic Front, DVD No. 107. 35. Le Baromètre 8, 15–31, January 1999. 36. Among the people cited as powerful and corrupt, Ministers Joseph Karemera, Jacques Bihozagara, and Aloysia Inyumba left the government, Ambassador Théogène Rudasingwa was recalled to Kigali, and Gerald Gahima was replaced as secretary-general of the Ministry of Justice, where he was the true strong man. Therefore the Rwandan Patriotic Front was most affected by the reorganization: of the five ministers leaving 10 February, four came from the RPF. Filip Reyntjens, “Évolution politique du Rwanda et du Burundi, 1998–1999,” in L’Afrique des Grands Lacs: Annuaire 1998–1999 (numéros de 1998–1999 à 2004– 2005) (Paris: L’Harmattan), p. 3. 37. For example, on 2 January 1999, Minister of Justice Faustin Nteziryayo resigned in order to return to his studies. He had been attacked in the press for reportedly wanting to protect certain people involved in the genocide. See Imyaho Nshya 1196, 25–31 August 1997. 38. Rwandan Patriotic Front, report, Political Bureau meeting, 8 March 2000.


In the Wake of Catastrophe

39. Reyntjens, “Évolution politique du Rwanda et du Burundi,” p. 3. 40. Rwandan Patriotic Front, report, Political Bureau meeting, 8 March 2000. 41. “I am ready to provide full proof.” Kayumba Nyamwasa, interview with Sonia Rolley, Radio France International, 9 July 2003. 42. Rwandan Patriotic Front, report, Political Bureau meeting, 18 August 2000. 43. Le Tribun du Peuple, special issue, 1996. 44. Reyntjens, “Évolution politique du Rwanda et du Burundi,” p. 6. 45. International Monetary Fund (IMF), “Rwanda: Recent Economic Developments,” IMF Staff Report No. 4, January 2000. 46. Ibid. 47. Wikileaks, “Kagame Criticizes National Officials for Allowing Misbehavior and Lack of Accountability,” 10 January 2005, Wikileaks, quoting US Embassy in Kigali, 48. Filip Reyntjens, “La ‘transition’ politique au Rwanda,” L’Afrique des Grands Lacs: Annuaire 2003–2004, p. 6. 49. “Earlier this year, the GOR allowed Umuseso to publish allegations of financial irregularities involving the former procureur général and the vice-président of the Supreme Court, Gerald Gahima. In just a few weeks, Gahima resigned from his position, and his brother, the former ambassador to the United States, Théogène Rudasingwa, immediately announced a sudden leave from his position of chief of staff of President Kagame.” Wikileaks, “Kagame Criticizes National Officials.” 50. Reyntjens, “Évolution politique du Rwanda et du Burundi, 2004–2005,” p. 5. 51. “Nothing Strange About Colonel Patrick Karegeya’s Arrest (General Kabarebe),” New York Times, 13 May 2005. 52. The term Urugwiro Village refers to the complex housing the presidential administration. The remarks that follow are from this report: Republic of Rwanda, Office of the President, “Rapport de la réunion de concertation qui s’est tenue à la présidence de la république from May 1998 to March 1999.” 53. The first element of the strategy of change was the creation of a task force to informally recruit new members, and the third was the election of the new National Executive Committee. RPF Secrétariat général, Rapport d’activités du Secrétariat général du RPF, 16 February–19 June 1998. 54. Ibid. 55. Rwandan Patriotic Front, report, Urugwiro Village meeting, 25 June 1998. 56. Ibid. 57. Ibid. 58. René Lemarchand, Rwanda and Burundi (New York: Praeger, 1970), p. 226. 59. “Inama zo mu rugwiro zizamara iki ko akananiye inkona inkongoro zidashunaho,” Le Tribun du Peuple. December 1998. 60. The novel aspect of this proposal should be seen in the context of the political transition, which had been extended to September 2003 and during which no election was to be organized. 61. The original title in Kinyarwana: “Ingamba z’ubukungu bw’u Rwanda Kugeza mu waka w’2020.” 62. Except for some administrative government institutions that had their earlier origin in the Rwandan Patriotic Front, such as the Rwandan Tax Authority, the National Office, and the Office of the Auditor General.

PART 3 Rise of a New State

8 Building a New Republic

In July 1999, at the time that the transition period was supposed to end, politicians agreed that the country was not yet in a position to adopt permanent institutions, so the transition was extended for another four years. Those four years were used to consolidate political changes under way and, in addition, to begin to implement the resolutions adopted by the Urugwiro Village discussions by launching a series of institutional reforms, including a new constitution that deeply changed the identity of the state. Adoption of a new constitutional and political architecture, which by specifically criminalizing any political expression of ethnic identity, did away with the very essence of the previous revolutionary regime. For that purpose, the Republican Democratic Movement (MDR) was abolished, causing vehement protests from international rights groups in defense of freedom of expression and association. The Army, Pillar of the Reconciliation Process The Rwandan Defense Force (RDF) had gotten ahead of the other institutions, starting reforms at the end of 1994, leading at the same time military operations and integration of former adversaries. The RDF integrated many ex-FAR and former militias into its ranks, while hostilities with the new recruits’ former allegiances continued in Rwanda and in Zaire. The conversion of ex-FAR soldiers and militia members and their incorporation into the RDF had, however, begun earlier, at the start of the campaign from April to July 1994. The most remarkable stage of this process took place in January 1995 with the integration of 1,011 ex-FAR soldiers, including 81 officers, some recently returned from Zaire. As already described above, 4 of these officers were named to high command posts. 179


Rise of a New State

In 1998, during the insurrection in the northwest, 1,200 ex-FAR soldiers were incorporated into the RDF, some from the ranks of the rebels. Between 300 and 400 soldiers were deployed in units in their native communes, primarily in northern Rwanda. These new recruits played an important role in establishing a climate of trust between the local inhabitants of these regions and the RDF. Thus, a total of more than 23,000 ex-FAR soldiers and former militia members were integrated into the national army between 1995 and 2004.1 After a screening process, those selected spent time in a political and civic education camp, ingando, that inculcated values of national unity and patriotism. In these military ingando, they were also instructed in the ethos of the new Rwandan army and drilled on warrior values based on tradition. The classic Rwandan warrior was idealized as “a gentleman who is strong, proud, patriotic, loyal, self-disciplined, ethical, brave, respected and technically skilled in his craft.”2 After that training, the new recruits were then deployed with their former rank to existing units. Participation in the two wars that Rwanda carried out in the Congo (1996–1997 and 1998–2003) was an important step in the integration process. “The newly integrated RDF would cement its solidarity and comradeship under fire in the coming Congo wars and use the shared experiences to demystify perceived animosities among the society as a whole.”3 Rather quickly after the genocide, the government sought to reduce the number of soldiers, both for budgetary reasons and because many of the longtime members of the RPA had taken up arms as citizen soldiers and, once the country was “liberated,” wanted to leave the army, while others were no longer wanted. The need to renew troops and integrate ex-FAR and former militia members made demobilization even more urgent. Thousands of poorly trained recruits, who had been incorporated during the genocide, left the army at that time. A demobilization and reintegration commission was created in January 1997. Despite heavy dependence on international aid, the government insisted on maintaining control over the conceptualization and implementation of the commission’s work. The demobilization and reintegration program was carried out in two phases. The first, between September 1997 and February 2001, demobilized 18,690 RPA soldiers and integrated some 15,000 ex-FAR soldiers into the RPA. In May 2002, the army changed its name to Rwandan Defense Forces. During the second phase of the demobilization program (2001–2008), 40,000 RDF soldiers and ex-combatants (ex-FAR and former militia members) were demobilized, including child soldiers.4 By the beginning of 2015, a total of 70,000 soldiers and militiamen had been demobilized, and 80 percent of them were accepted and reintegrated into their communities. The program’s second phase benefited from important international support that made possible the establishment of a model with three main

Building a New Republic


elements. Regular soldiers, men and women, received a payment at the time of their demobilization. An office was created to help vulnerable demobilized soldiers, especially former child soldiers, some female soldiers, and people with disabilities, to readapt. Support was also provided for dependents of demobilized soldiers. The second aspect provided vocational training, as well as help in setting up small investment projects, and creating associations of producers for them. And lastly, for those who experienced difficulties, workshops for finding solutions to problems were organized close to their place of residence, long after they left the program. The demobilized first spent time in ingando, where they received training aimed at reinforcing a feeling of national identity and their leadership capacities. In a context of civil and external war, the government sought to optimize the fallout of the demobilization process. International aid was used to implement a strategy that would make the demobilized troops serve as agents of stability in their communities. A comparison of the Disarmament Demobilization Reintegration (DDR) programs in the subregions shows that the Rwandan program was people centered and stressed quality from the beginning.5 Although the results in terms of income generation did not always live up to expectations, the demobilization process was a success, and the demobilized integrated rather quickly into the rest of the population, without creating any major social or security problems. They often contributed to local security activities in cooperation with local officials. Efforts made to optimize the reconversion of the demobilized had to deal with, nonetheless, the country’s economic reality and general poverty.6 Remuneration of Military Personnel

After the genocide, because of a number of causes including nonpayment of soldiers and nonconfinement of many soldiers in military camps, some committed robberies, carried out extortion, or hired out their services for illegal purposes. The order for soldiers to return to their barracks in December 1995 and the commencement of payment to soldiers in 1996 decreased these crimes. But the low level of salaries fed discouragement in the army, above all among former RPF soldiers who had returned from exile with their families and were without any material basis in the country. In an attempt to remedy this situation, the army created a microfinance cooperative called Zigama Credit and Saving Society in August 1997. Soldiers received their salaries in accounts, and 10 percent was automatically deducted to create the cooperative’s capital. This mandatory savings, which made 7 percent in interest, could then be withdrawn only when the person left the army. The cooperative in turn invested this capital with commercial banks or in other projects. The returns on these investments allowed the cooperative to make low-interest loans to its members, much lower than the


Rise of a New State

commercial banks, with a certain flexibility as to guarantees. These loans were used primarily to finance the construction of houses. In 2011, Zigama received a commercial banking license and expanded its services to members of Rwanda’s prison service as well as the national police. In 2016, Zigama had $253 million in capital and an annual profit of $7.99 million, an increase of 25 percent compared with the previous year. Its rate of loan recovery was 98 percent. At that time, the cooperative had 72,000 members and 148 employees.7 The cooperative bank not only helped soldiers with projects that allowed them to increase their income or their patrimony but also allowed them to receive financial advice and increase their entrepreneurial potential. Many soldiers were thus able to build houses as a result of Zigama loans. RDF soldiers benefited from medical insurance (Military Medical Insurance), which provided them and their families with quality health care. The attention given to the well-being of RDF soldiers contributed to reinforcing loyalty toward the institution and creating an esprit de corps, including among ex-FAR soldiers and, more recently, young recruits from diverse social backgrounds.8 Professionalization

In October 2002, the Rwandan government announced the reorganization of its army, changing its former focus on light infantry expeditions to an army for territorial defense. This reorganization was driven by a desire to professionalize the army and a desire to break with the past. This will to change was expressed in the army’s new name. One sign of this change, after Paul Kagame became president in March 2000, was the retirement of most soldiers from formal political life. A large part of this effort of professionalization involved intensification of training with several foreign armies in eastern Africa, western Africa, southern Africa, Belgium, China, Israel, and the United States. International humanitarian law and human rights are now part of basic training for officers. Peacekeeping Missions

In August 2004, Rwanda was the first to answer the African Union’s appeal for the urgent deployment of troops to Darfur in order to prevent possible genocide. Some 150 RDF soldiers arrived in Sudan for their first peacekeeping mission. Rwanda’s commitment to these missions reflects the memory of the international abandonment of Rwanda during the genocide. Rwanda now usually intervenes in peacekeeping missions under the aegis of the African Union or in mixed missions with the United Nations, reflecting its commitment to pan-African solidarity. In addition to the interna-

Building a New Republic


tional prestige that the country gains, these mandates are also opportunities to reinforce the army’s professionalization. In addition, peacekeeping missions are an important source of foreign currency. During the 2012–2013 fiscal year, Rwanda spent $78 million for these missions, part of it in local currency, and received $98 million in compensation from the United Nations. During their deployment, RDF units have no intention to be passive peacekeepers. They determinedly protect the civilians under their watch and do not hesitate, when attacked, to engage in fighting. RDF soldiers are also recognized for their discipline and aptitude in creating ties with local populations, often allowing them to learn of attacks being prepared. Because of the high quality of the Rwandan troops’ performance, the United Nations and the African Union gave them increasingly important assignments, including mission commands. This was the case in Darfur between 2009 and 2013 and in Mali between 2013 and 2014. Rwanda had become a strategic partner of the United Nations, the African Union, and the United States for peacekeeping missions. The National Police After negotiation of the Arusha Accords, the RDF formed a police unit in preparation for joining the national gendarmerie. Further steps were taken in the summer of 1994 to expand the area administered by the RPA. In November 1994, an initial contingent of gendarmes was approved. In January 1995, elements of the former gendarmerie joined this unit to form the new national gendarmerie under the command of Colonel Déogratias Ndibwami, an ex-FAR officer. In December 1994, the new communal police force was deployed in the country’s 140 communes. Rwanda had a pressing need for police services because of its many security problems, some resulting from the genocide and others related to crime. This new communal police force, in contrast to that before the genocide, was no longer under the orders of the bourgmestres, who had sometimes turned the units under their command into personal militias. The government was keen on creating a local police force in order to improve relations between the local citizens and the security services, but the lack of means and the difficulties in recruitment—in a context where some of those who had participated in the genocide had still not been identified—limited the development of this institution. It was never able to deploy more than four police officers per commune, although a minimum of ten had been planned. In addition to the gendarmerie, which depended on the army and communal police deployed by the Ministry of the Interior, there were judiciary police inspectors of the Ministry for Justice.9


Rise of a New State

During the years of intense fighting against the insurrection in the northwest, 1997–1998, part of the gendarmerie was assigned to offensive operations, while the army took up police activities once again. After this war, exasperated by the international criticism of its security services, the government sought to reconfigure its public security forces. It put an end to the activities of the UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda (HRFOR), decided to create a national human rights commission, and in June 2000 created a single police service, the national police. The new national police stressed professionalization. The force reoriented its services in order to become closer to local populations and focus on preventive action. It strengthened its communication capabilities in traditional media such as radio, with political posters, and also on social media. To combat violence against women and children, the national police established a child-and-family protection unit. In 2009, the Isange One-Stop Center was created, bringing together in one place medical care for victims of violence, psychological counseling, and the gathering of forensic evidence. In 1998, in the context of the insurrection in the northwest, local defense units (LDUs) were created to back up the work of the police in northwestern Rwanda. These LDUs were formed by groups of young people from a locality volunteering for the unpaid communal service. They were trained in the use of weapons and supervised by the local administration. In 1999, their deployment was extended to the entire country. However, given the abuses committed by the LDUs, the government began taking away their weapons.10 At the Senate session of 29 October 2009, the LDUs were strongly criticized for their abuse and the low level of confidence the local populations had in them. In July 2013, breaking with the long tradition of unpaid voluntary local security service, the government replaced them with a new professional and salaried structure, the District Administration Security Support Organ (DASSO).11 Although in many fragile states security institutions were often obstacles to establishing peace, in postgenocide Rwanda, the reformed security sector played a major role in stabilizing the country. Transformation of Institutions and Decentralization Policy Following up on recommendations of the Urugwiro Village discussions, the government began to provide the country permanent political institutions, which began with a reform of the local administration. The urgency of the transformation of the local administration that began in May 2000 was motivated, it seems, by the desire to see the country moving away from a security-driven administration of local populations

Building a New Republic


by passing authority to elected representatives.12 The main goals of the new decentralization policy were to promote “unity, indivisibility and equitable development” and to prevent decentralization from becoming the vehicle for “national disintegration and discriminatory development.”13 It also sought to establish collective leadership in the management of local affairs to remedy the former model where all powerful bourgmestres were accused of having used their authority to facilitate the mobilization of people for the genocide. The new decentralization policy sought to put local populations directly in contact with the state by short-circuiting the intermediary role played by the political parties by making local elections nonpartisan.14 But in the end, the new configuration of local administrative entities was not that much different from the former, although the number of districts, the new basic entities of the local administration, decreased, becoming 106 instead of the 154 former communes. The four-level structure was retained, with cells at the lowest level of the administration, then sectors, districts, and finally provinces, plus the city of Kigali. Districts replaced the communes and provinces replaced the prefectures. The most important change was in the internal organization and functioning of these new entities. Just like before, the cell was made up of all adults in the same area, but contrary to what had existed, the cell’s executive offices were highly bureaucratized, with many portfolios headed by a minimum of ten persons, none of whom were paid. At the level of the sector, two new entities were created: a women’s organization and another youth organization, whose representation gradually increased until it reached the National Assembly. By replacing the former commune, the district became the main entity for providing basic services to local populations. The indirect election of district mayors and the mayor of the city of Kigali was organized in March 2001. The electoral college, which elected the mayors and their executive committees, was made up of sector councilors elected by universal suffrage. At the district level, there were 8,000 candidates for the 2,700 positions available. The rate of replacement of the members of the executive committees and mayors was reduced; 80 percent of officials formerly appointed were now elected. The fact that the political parties were not authorized to become involved, the indirect character of the suffrage, and the many invalidations of candidates by the electoral commission were handicaps in the eyes of some observers who criticized the process’s tightly controlled nature. These critics denounced the fact that the RPF had widely influenced the preselection of elected officials through the National Electoral Commission.15 Nonetheless, these new structures, with their large staffs, made possible the enlargement of citizens’ participation in local public affairs, the most visible example being the participation of women. These initial local elections were a launching pad that encouraged widespread representation of women at the national level.16 More generally, these initial


Rise of a New State

elections reduced the involvement of security organs in the relationships between the state and the citizens. The elections expanded the social base of government by including citizens with quite varied sociocultural backgrounds. As for the question of the actual devolution of power, a 2004 study of decentralization showed that the policy had not produced the desired results. On the one hand, the central institutions, above all the ministries, had delegated tasks but retained for themselves the powers of decision and initiative. On the other hand, the local groups lacked the technical capacities to handle their new responsibilities and had not really begun to assert their agency in dealing with the prerogatives given to them by law.17 The local administration underwent another important transformation in 2006. Constitutional Reform In December 1999, the Legal and Constitutional Commission was created, reflecting the political composition of the National Assembly. Tito Rutaremara, an ideologically important figure of the RPF, was named president. Instead of using experts to prepare a draft constitution, the commission ostensibly adopted a participatory method based on the gathering of the opinions of the population. In reality, two methods were adopted. The Constitutional Commission carried out many studies and made many study trips abroad. That effort produced a booklet presenting the main models of constitutions that was distributed to the population. Then, a multiple-choice questionnaire covering the main orientations that a constitution could adopt, from the nature of the government to civil rights, was distributed to the public. Around 50,000 replies were returned to the commission. Later, a consultation of the population was organized using 590 public meetings, each attended by 200 to 2,000 persons. During these meetings, members of the commission described the issues using a discussion guide.18 On the basis of the reports of these discussions, an initial draft constitution was prepared that was submitted to a sample of those who had been consulted for testing before its presentation to the National Assembly and the government.19 The question of the functioning of the political parties in the future constitution was one of the most debated points. In many consultation meetings, participants stated reservations and sometimes open opposition to a multiparty system. They accused the political parties of dividing the population and having incited people to participate in the genocide.20 Activists questioned the authentic character of these reservations, arguing that they were probably induced by the Constitutional Commission.21 At the time when the role of the parties in the country’s functioning was being discussed, it was not surprising that the memory of what the political

Building a New Republic


parties did five years earlier had repercussions both at the level of the work of the Constitutional Commission and at the level of local populations. During the consultations, the commission proposed a compromise that, although authorizing political pluralism, would either limit the activities of the political parties to just the capital or expand it to the larger cities in the provinces. It was finally the latter solution that was adopted in the form of an organic law governing political parties and politicians that blocked all partisan activities at the lowest level.22 When the initial draft constitution was submitted to the Office of the President for comments, President Kagame preferred a direct universal vote with a secret ballot for legislative and presidential elections. He opposed the position favoring an indirect presidential election backed by part of the Constitutional Commission.23 The draft constitution was submitted to a referendum on 25 May 2003. After a lukewarm campaign, it was adopted by 93 percent with a participation of 89 percent. The constitution established a multiparty power-sharing political system in which cabinet members were chosen proportionally to the representation of their party in the National Assembly. At the same time, no party, whatever might be its level of representation in the National Assembly, could occupy more than 50 percent of the posts in the cabinet. The president of the National Assembly and the president of the republic had to come from different political parties. Out of 80 deputies in the National Assembly, 53 were elected by proportion on a national list. The others, including 24 women, were elected by electoral colleges representing specific groups. The constitution prohibited political parties based on identity criteria, such as race, ethnic identity, tribe, clan, region, gender, religion, and any other discriminating criterion. Furthermore, 30 percent of the members of the Senate and the Chamber of the Deputies must be women. The constitution created the institution of the National Consultative Forum of Political Organizations in 2000, which organizes consultation among parties. This forum had important powers, namely for monitoring party activities and politicians’ behavior. Although the law on political organizations, which created the forum, did not explicitly make participation in that institution obligatory for all the officially approved political parties, the interpretation that parties were required to participate prevailed at that time. International observers and especially the MDR strongly criticized the creation of the National Consultative Forum of Political Organizations, considering it an instrument of political control for the RPF.24 The 2001 law “on Prevention, Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Discrimination and Sectarianism” and the one adopted in 2008 “relating to the Punishment of the Crime of Genocide Ideology” also played important roles in the architecture of politics in Rwanda. The constitution makers, following the Urugwiro Village resolutions, wanted to create a Rwandan version of a consensual democracy built on


Rise of a New State

collaboration among elites instead of “a democracy of confrontation.” The decentralization policy, for its part, streaming from the same inspiration source, more directly embodied the notion of “participatory democracy.” The Carrot and Stick of Unity and Reconciliation After a lull began to take hold concerning security, the government took steps to promote unity and reconciliation at the social level. These initiatives aimed to reduce the below-the-surface antagonism between the country’s identity groups and increase the level of mutual trust. Efforts at reconciliation were not to be made, however, in exchange for immunity from crimes linked to the genocide; this justified the adoption of the middle way of the Gacaca jurisdictions as prescribed during the Urugwiro Village discussions. Holding people responsible for their acts linked to the genocide, even as tokens, was sure to be a serious challenge to social cohesion. In order to attempt to find an answer, the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) intensified its awareness-promotion activities by organizing community gatherings even in the most remote areas of the country. These efforts turned out to be, however, insufficient. Violence against genocide survivors and the rise of anti-Tutsi intolerance that accompanied the Gacaca trials resulted in reinforcement of the repression of manifestations of ethnic hatred. The National Unity and Reconciliation Commission Provided for in the Arusha Accords, the establishment of the NURC in March 1999 also reflected the wishes expressed in the Urugwiro Village discussions. From the time of its creation, the commission was considered to be the country’s stellar institution. Its first secretary executive was Aloysia Nyumba, a senior RPF cadre known for her talent at mobilizing people. One of the commission’s main activities was the organization of solidarity camps modeled on those established by the army for its reintegration program. They were retreats providing civic education based on the analysis of the history of the country’s evolution, organized for students and various professional categories. The commission also promoted reconciliation clubs in schools and communities that brought together survivors and perpetrators of genocide with their family members. In October 2000, the commission organized its first national dialogue, in the presence of the president of South Africa, Thambo Mbeki. During this forum, local populations and Rwandans from the diaspora were invited

Building a New Republic


to submit unfiltered questions by telephone to members of the government and other officials present. The commission heavily publicized activities expressing the government’s political willingness to promote reconciliation. The Gacaca Tribunals The Gacaca trials began officially in June 2002 and began to wind down their activities toward the end of 2009. The preparatory phase of promoting awareness among local populations and providing information on the nature of the upcoming trials took place from 2001 to 2005. The trials themselves were preceded by a phase of gathering information on the events of the genocide at the local level. The information collected sought to answer the following questions: who had been killed, by whom, and how. It was on the basis of this information that the lists of the accused and the nature of their participation were made. Six months after the Gacaca tribunals began, the release of tens of thousands of prisoners for crimes of genocide within a few weeks had major repercussions in the communities. On 1 January 2003, a presidential order demanded the immediate release of certain categories of suspects of participation in the genocide. That order called for the release of suspects who were ill or physically incapable of standing trial, anyone who had been a minor at the time of the events, and those who ran the risk of spending more time in prison than what was prescribed for the type of crime committed.25 In less than six months, more than 25,000 suspects returned to their communities. Shortly thereafter, 5,500 of those released were rearrested because they had not mentioned other crimes they had committed.26 Almost 60,000 prisoners were released between 2004 and 2007, including many who had accepted the procedure for confessing to their crimes in exchange for lesser sentences.27 These large-scale releases at the time when the Gacaca tribunals were entering the phase of drawing up lists of the accused created widespread tension in the hills. Cases of harassment and murder of genocide survivors, judges, and witnesses for the prosecution broke out everywhere in the country. These attacks were not, however, acts of only those suspected of genocide having been released. Others who had never been arrested were also involved.28 In 2003, a parliamentary inquiry commission identified hundreds of cases of violent harassment against survivors of the genocide, including physical aggression in the form of assaults and battery, the destruction of harvests, slaughter of cattle, rock-throwing at houses, insults, and spitting.29 These acts of aggression intensified during the month of official commemoration of the genocide in April. Figure 8.1 shows only the visible part of the iceberg, namely assassinations of survivors and witnesses


Rise of a New State

Figure 8.1 Number of Murdered Genocide Survivors and Witnesses for the Prosecution, 1995–2008

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Source: Report of the Office national de police judiciaire, 2008, in National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide (CNLG), “État de l’idéologie du génocide au Rwanda 1995–2015,” 2016.

for the prosecution of the genocide. It also shows that the assassination of survivors and witnesses of the genocide coincided with the rising potency of the confrontational phase of the Gacaca tribunals. Violence against survivors and witnesses for the prosecution of the genocide decreased sharply after 2007, either because most of the Gacaca trials at first instance were winding up or because of the dissuasive effect of its repression, which had increased, but most probably because of both. Campaigns Against Promotion of “Divisionism” and the Ideology of Genocide Between 2003 and 2008, three parliamentary commissions held inquiries into the question of “promotion of division” and “the ideology of genocide.” Those inquiries were followed by political campaigns promoting awareness of these issues.30 The first commission, established in December 2002, followed internal dissensions within the MDR, whose twists and turns spread across the

Building a New Republic


newspapers just when important elections were coming up. The concern that the MDR was split again, just as in 1993, into extremist and moderate factions was expressed at the National Assembly by Abbas Mukama, deputy of the mostly Muslim Parti Démocrate Idéal, which led to the creation of the commission. The parliamentary commission was tasked with examining the nature of the party’s internal divisions and “the party’s role in the divisions that had characterized Rwanda’s history.” The conclusions of the commission’s report presented in April 2003 described insurmountable internal dissensions within the MDR and, in general, the fact that the party had been unable to leave behind its “sectarian” root ideology. The commission recommended the definitive termination of the MDR. That determination, announced right when the transition was ending and when general elections were approaching, produced outrage among a number of critics. Human Rights Watch denounced a pre-electoral maneuver by the RPF.31 The International Crisis Group, for its part, basically agreed with the parliamentary commission assessment and stated: “The MDR was and has remained divided between the tenets of the heritage of the hard line of the ex-ParmeHutu and the advocates of a more inclusive policy.”32 At the end of May 2003, the cabinet adopted the National Assembly’s recommendations that had been proposed by the commission of inquiry and ordered the MDR to be disbanded. The commission’s report had also recommended banning several civil society organizations for sectarianism, including LIPRODHOR, a human rights organization close to the extremist MDR faction.33 The second parliamentary commission of inquiry was established on 20 January 2004 in a tense atmosphere following the murder of four genocide survivors in Gikongoro province in November and December 2003. These murders provoked the flight of many survivors denouncing persecutions in this province. They claimed to be victims of a campaign of persecution by suspects of genocide who wanted to prevent them from testifying in the Gacaca trials.34 The commission submitted its report in June 2004, with more than a thousand pages of annexes. It recorded the murders of about a dozen survivors between 2003 and the beginning of 2004 as well as hundreds of cases of harassment and violence against survivors of the genocide in threequarters of the country. The commission imputed these acts to an ideology of genocide present in six out of twelve provinces. The commission used the notion of the ideology of genocide as a general concept, accusing various civil society organizations, including churches and religious leaders, of activities denoting pro-Hutu ethnic sectarianism and of harboring that ideology. The extensive notion of the ideology of genocide, as used in the political and social context in Rwanda, originated partly from this report and from the campaign seeking to eradicate it. Despite this campaign against attacks on survivors of the genocide, the attacks nevertheless continued to intensify.


Rise of a New State

The Special Commission on the Ideology of Genocide in Schools On 2 July 2007, a deputy drew the attention of the National Assembly to the fact that the ideology of genocide existed in the school at Muhura in the Gatsibo district (Eastern Province). He explained that in this secondary school child survivors of the genocide were being harassed and that tracts were being spread aimed at terrorizing them. According to the deputy, students were defecating on the beds of genocide victims and tearing up their clothes and their schoolbooks. Following this communication, a delegation of deputies visited the school to check what was happening. In light of the seriousness of the information gathered, the National Assembly created a special commission to investigate the question of the ideology of genocide in schools throughout Rwanda.35 The special commission carried out its investigations in 31 secondary schools and one primary school spread over the country. According to the report produced by the commission, a total of 26 of these schools had problems of ethnic cohabitation, and “in order to better understand the phenomenon,” 6 others were chosen where this type of problem did not exist.36 Around 18,000 people involved in education were questioned in addition to 159 members of district security committees. In the schools, the commission interviewed and distributed questionnaires to students to be answered anonymously.37 In its final report, the commission stated that out of the 26 schools “in which they had been informed of the existence of the ideology of genocide and that the commission had visited, this ideology was present in 58 percent.” Among the ten schools most affected, the percentage of students embracing this ideology ranged from 85 to 97 percent. The prevalence expressed by these percentages ranged from perception of the respondents to the question of knowing if they thought, yes or no, that the ideology of genocide was present in their school. Nowhere in the commission’s report is mentioned the definition of the ideology of genocide, on which it was based.38 Amid the proof of the existence of the ideology of genocide, the commission quoted extracts of tracts circulating in certain schools. Some clearly expressed the intention of killing Tutsis: “Tutsis are snakes, and we’ve had enough of them. We’re going to kill them,” “Pray, because even if we can’t hack you with machetes, we’ll poison you and you’ll die a painful death,” “You are wasting your time, we will overpower you again, we will kill you again, that’s what we’ll do. It’s a reminder.” The commission also described tracts in which the authors “warned Tutsi children that because of what the Tutsis had done to the Hutus in 1994” they promised to “kill them and put a stop to their arrogance.” The commission members even found calls to kill Tutsis in the questionnaires they had passed out: “Let all the Tutsis die,” “Let’s kill all the AERG, let’s decapitate Janvier, the coordinator,”39 “Pay your school fees, or we will exterminate you.”40

Building a New Republic


Nevertheless, other facts presented by the commission as indications of the ideology of genocide were less clear. For example a child had said to another, “I’m going to beat you up.” At the time of the commemoration of the genocide, which provoked trauma among survivors, one student had said, “They’re going to begin to go into panic in broad daylight, while we’re watching.” Other acts were more harmless: “Do you think those who used to run this school were not also human beings?” The commission also cited objectionable expressions made by Tutsi students that it defined as sectarian but not as within the ideology of genocide.41 The commission’s inquiry was not, however, one-sided. It noted that in three schools in which it had been told of the presence of the ideology of genocide, responses to the questionnaires that confirmed it were rare. It stressed also the case of schools where the situation had improved. The commission also gathered reports produced by other administrative inquiries covering 637 secondary schools. According to those results, the ideology of genocide might be present in 13 percent of the schools studied. The investigation also covered related questions, such as learning how the students came to adopt that attitude or behavior. According to the children’s responses, the home was identified as the main source of transmission of the ideology of genocide. The commission made a series of recommendations, but the one that stands out is that which called for rapid adoption of a law against the ideology of genocide. Laws Against Sectarianism and the Ideology of Genocide

The 2001 law against sectarianism and the 2008 law against the ideology of genocide contributed to political and civic debate leading up to the 2003 and 2010 presidential elections. In December 2001, an initial antidiscrimination law covering the “repression of crimes of discrimination and practice of sectarianism” was adopted. Its main provision stipulates that “the practice of sectarianism is a crime when committed both orally and in writing, all acts of division that might create conflicts among local populations or provoke arguments.”42 The government officials and former officials, members of political parties, NGOs, and persons working in the formal private sector, if found guilty, are punished with a maximum sentence of five years and loss of their civil rights. In September 2003, Rwanda adopted a law “criminalizing the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.”43 This law, which replicates international conventions, did not lead to any controversy. In July 2008, the law against the ideology of genocide was adopted.44 The three antidiscrimination laws contain many provisions that overlap. The 2008 law created specific problems. It lacked logical coherence and expanded the type of punishable infractions to acts difficult to qualify clearly as the ideology of genocide.


Rise of a New State

Beyond the text of the laws, there was also the context of their application. The activity report of the Ministry of Justice for 2007–2008 lists hundreds of cases “linked to the ideology of genocide,” although the law covering that crime entered into force only in September 2008.45 Rwandan courts, judges, and prosecutors readily agreed that the 2008 law caused confusion. The sensitive context of the Gacaca tribunals, the terms of the new law, and the political campaigns of awareness promotion in 2008 and 2009 inflated accusations and arrests linked to the ideology of genocide or its minimization and caused widespread social anxiety.46 It seemed, however, that many judges dealt with the question pragmatically by searching through the available arsenal of legal texts to find the most pertinent to the cases they were handling and did not hesitate to deny the accusation. Various studies recorded a high rate of acquittals and of cases that were abandoned or dismissed. One study shows that in 2009, out of 749 suspects tried for infractions “linked to the ideology of genocide,” 260 were acquitted at the first hearing alone—one-third of the cases.47 In October 2013, the government revised the 2008 law and adopted a new law concerning “the crime of ideology of genocide and other related infractions.”48 The text was considerably improved. Related infractions, such as negation, justification, and minimization of the genocide were excluded from the definition of the crime of “ideology of genocide.” The revised law is better structured and more precise: the infractions tried must be intentional and committed in public. The law tied sentencing to the penal code. As justification for the 2008 law against the ideology of genocide—the main provisions of which were in the antidiscrimination laws that already existed—lawmakers felt there was a need to do more to stop the violence against survivors. They also thought some social engineering was necessary in order to discredit a culture of sectarian violence still rampant in the society. Early in May 2010, after the April commemoration of the genocide, the police reported, for the first time in years, the absence of major acts of persecution of genocide survivors, a continuous decrease of acts of ethnic antagonism that has since been confirmed.49 The 2003 and 2010 Presidential Elections A comparison of the presidential elections of 2003 and 2010 makes it possible to evaluate the political impact of the new constitutional and legislative changes. The first postgenocide presidential elections were the result of a controversial process of the country’s political transition. Seven years later, the second elections reflected the public’s evaluation of the government’s actions on development as well as the impact of Gacaca tribunals, which were the most important social and political events of that period.

Building a New Republic


The August 2003 Presidential Elections

By mid-2003, Rwanda went through a period of increased political tension. An important part of the international community had criticized the new constitution and the way it had been drafted, especially via a process that, they felt, restricted freedom. On the eve of the presidential and legislative elections that followed the adoption of the constitution, a political campaign organized by RPF supporters had ended with the dissolution of the historic MDR and suspension of several local NGOs because of their promotion of ethnic division. On 25 August 2003, Rwanda organized its first multiparty presidential elections since independence in 1962. These elections took place in a tense climate. The main candidates were the outgoing president, Paul Kagame of the RPF, and the former prime minister recently returned from exile in Belgium, Faustin Twagiramungu. Twagiramungu competed as an independent, his MDR having been prohibited three months earlier. The third candidate, also an independent but without a significant audience, was Jean-Népomuscène Nayinzira. On the seventh day of the campaign, the National Electoral Commission seized the brochure of Twagiramungu’s campaign, accusing it of promoting divisions. The brochure stated that, if the candidate were elected, he would follow a policy based on “various forms of discrimination.” Questioned by the electoral commission in a public meeting open to journalists, Twagiramungu stated that there had been a “typing error.”50 This incident was widely reported and raised tension and fear throughout the country. Twagiramungu’s campaign was dotted with incidents, and a number of his supporters were arrested. Information circulated about the involvement in Twagiramungu’s campaign of members of the Burundian armed Hutu extremist group Palipehutu in Southern Province.51 On the eve of the elections, the 12 provincial coordinators of Twagiramungu’s campaign were arrested, accused by the police of intending to organize violence.52 Kagame won the elections with 95 percent of the votes, Twagiramungu received 3.62 percent, and Nayinzira 1.33 percent. The rate of participation was 96 percent. Various observation missions monitored the elections. The most important was that of the European Union (EU), accompanied by a small group of European parliamentarians. The African Union was represented along with the Amani Forum (the Great Lakes Parliamentary Forum on Peace, composed of parliamentarians in the region), parliamentarians and members of South African civil society, Burundian parliamentarians, and a private technical team contracted by USAID. The reports of these observation missions fell into two categories, depending on their geographic origin. The African delegations saw a country ravaged by civil war taking its first steps toward political normality, while


Rise of a New State

the Europeans described instead an unfair competition between an opposition candidate, weak and repressed by a powerful governing political party. The report of the EU mission denounced a competition without real opposition and presidential and legislative electoral campaigns “marked by a climate of intimidation, questioning, and arrests.” The mission criticized irregularities and a lack of transparency of the process of consolidating results. The EU mission also denounced the accusations made against the Twagiramungu camp of promoting division but without commenting on their validity or lack thereof.53 The African Union mission stated that it was impressed by the electoral commission’s professionalism, voters’ discipline, and the absence of coercion by security forces or representatives of the parties. Nevertheless, it deplored a certain number of limitations, stating that “the absence of representatives of the opposition at the polling stations was harmful to transparency, especially during the counting of votes.” The mission also criticized shortcomings in the logistics of the voting and stressed the need to have voting booths that were completely protected from the view of others.54 The South African and Burundian missions expressed positive opinions without reservations.55 The Amani Forum delegation, composed of parliamentarians from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia, determined that shortcomings were identified by the media and the opposition without giving any details. According to the representatives of the forum, “It was clear that Rwandans had voted for reconciliation, democratic development, and a lasting peace. Rwandans had, as a consequence, validated President Kagame’s legitimacy.”56 Breaking with this European-African dichotomy, the Belgian minister for foreign affairs, Louis Michel, declared several days after the 2 October 2003 legislative elections: “I find that a number of people jump to quick conclusions about the election’s fairness. I am not convinced that all the persons who expressed an opinion are familiar with the exact context and what the stakes are in these elections.”57 Even the most critical organizations did not question the validity of President Kagame’s victory.58 The 2010 Presidential Elections

These elections were held in August in a tense political and media context in light of the many events that had occurred during the months preceding the vote. The year 2010 began on a political high note with the return on 16 January of the opposition leader Victoire Ingabire, president of the FDU-Inkingi party, accompanied by her assistant, Joseph Ntawangundi.59 Ingabire was putting an end to her 16-year exile and was returning to Rwanda to participate in the presidential election. The very day she arrived, Ingabire went to the Kigali

Building a New Republic


Genocide Memorial Center at Gisozi, where she made inflammatory remarks. As she was leaving, in a declaration to the press she made a parallel between the genocide of the Tutsis and the revenge killings committed against the Hutus and promised to help those who had been arrested for genocide.60 In February, Ntawangundi was arrested, having been sentenced in absentia to 19 years in prison, which was handed down in 2007 by a Gacaca tribunal in the commune in the Eastern Province, where he had worked during the genocide. He had ordered the killing of students at the school where he was the director. He began by affirming that at the time of that crime he was in Sweden and then he returned to Kenya. One month later, he confessed to having personally ordered the murder of eight persons.61 As for Ingabire, she was initially arrested in April 2010, accused of propagating the ideology of genocide and collaborating with terrorist groups, thus putting an end to her pretense of participating in the presidential election.62 During 2010, other politicians and journalists were arrested. Journalist Jean-Léonard Rugambage was assassinated as well as the vice president of the recently created Democratic Green Party, André Kagwa Rwisereka. Two persons were arrested and condemned for the journalist’s murder. One of them confessed that the crime was ordered by a family whose members were reportedly killed by the journalist during the genocide.63 Those responsible for the murder of the vice president of the Democratic Green Party were never found. A former chief of staff of the Rwandan army, General Kayumba Nyamwasa, defected and from abroad created with other dissidents from the RPF an opposition party: the Rwanda National Congress. Several months later, Nyamwasa was the victim of a double attempted assassination in South Africa. Nyamwasa accused President Kagame of having ordered these attempted murders, announcing that before the attempts on his life he had plotted an armed insurrection in Rwanda to get rid of President Kagame.64 The weeks before the opening of the electoral campaign for the presidential elections saw a wave of criticism from the international media and human rights organizations against Rwanda. Four candidates were in the running: the outgoing president, Kagame of the RPF; Jean-Damascene Ntawukuriryayo, vice president of the Chamber of Deputies, representing the PSD; Prosper Higiro, former minister of commerce for the PL; and Senator Alvera Mukabaramba, who was running on behalf of the PPC. The PSD and the PL were solid partners of the RPF in the government. The six other approved political parties in Rwanda backed the candidacy of the incumbent president, Kagame. The three parties opposing the RPF carried out campaigns with varying results, but the PSD and the PL were sometimes quite active.65 Kagame’s campaign began moderately, but soon the RPF rallies for their candidate attracted enormous crowds in an atmosphere of exaltation. When expressing their support for candidate Kagame, speakers stressed the socioeconomic


Rise of a New State

progress made and how that progress had an impact on their lives. The New Times reported on the campaign’s most impressive rally, which attracted 150,000 persons in Gicumbi District in the north. “Addressing a massive rally in Gicumbi District—the largest since the presidential campaigns kicked off last month—Kagame, evidently spurred on by the huge turnout, challenged the critics and those who have been publishing false stories to come and ask Rwandans what they want, before drawing conclusions.”66 Among the journalists and other observers present, few questioned the authenticity of the large demonstrations of support for the incumbent president. Some cases of pressure were discovered; in general, local officials pressured local populations to attend Kagame’s rallies. But this pressure alone was insufficient to explain the level of mobilization and enthusiasm manifested. An opinion poll carried out six months before the elections makes it possible to understand variations in the participation in the incumbent president’s rallies. With only a few exceptions, the welcome he received in the districts where he held rallies was enthusiastic to varying degrees. The administration’s internal poll, in Kinyarwanda, which measured the population’s perception of progress made during President Kagame’s first mandate (2003– 2010) attracted attention. These results made it possible to accurately predict the level of participation in the incumbent candidate’s rallies. Gicumbi, out of the country’s thirty districts, stood out as the one that recorded the highest level of satisfaction with improving local living conditions. Paradoxically, Gicumbi is also one of the country’s poorest districts, but in answer to whether the campaign against poverty had made progress where they lived, 39 percent of the residents of Gicumbi replied “a lot” and 55 percent replied “satisfactory.”67 It was the district with the highest percentage in the country who answered “a lot,” for an average for Northern Province of 25 percent (also the highest in the country) and a national average of 19 percent. Significant development efforts had been made in Gicumbi. In this district, almost all the promises of infrastructure made to the population by the president since his 2003 electoral campaign had been fulfilled. Conversely, in several isolated districts where important promises were made during the 2003 campaign and had not been fulfilled satisfactorily, the level of satisfaction recorded and the participation in candidate Kagame’s rallies were lower. In Gakenke District, only 13 percent said that combating poverty had made significant progress, the lowest level in Northern Province and among the lowest at the national level.68 In May 2010, a regional hospital, two electricity lines, a road, plus a bus line promised during the previous presidential term had not yet been delivered.69 In Gakenke District, the participation in President Kagame’s rally was not as large as elsewhere. In contrast to the extremely negative international media that had preceded the presidential elections, enormous crowds attended the incumbent president’s electoral rallies. Compared with the 2003 presidential elections,

Building a New Republic


this demonstration of support reflected a change in the relationship between local populations and President Kagame. During the seven years that separated the two elections, President Kagame seems to have made a real domestic political conquest. The election was won by Kagame with 93 percent of the votes. The report of the Commonwealth election observation mission, the largest, reported no incident. It stated that the elections had been held peacefully and that the candidates had enjoyed freedom of movement and assembly. The group noted, however, a lack of transparency in the tallying of the results at the district level. Taking into account the country’s history and the tragic events of 1994, the Commonwealth group reported that political participation and the freedom of the media would need to be further addressed to reinforce the democratic process in Rwanda.70 Notes

1. Republic of Rwanda, Ministry of Defense, 25 January 2005. 2. General Franck Rusagara, interview with Robin Camben, in “Military Culture and Conflict Resolution: A Case Study of the Rwanda Defense Force,” thesis, Carlton University, Ottawa, p. 98. 3. Franck Rusagara, “Unconventional Challenges and Non-traditional Roles for Armed Forces: The Case for Rwanda,” PRISM 3, no. 1 (December 2011): 116. 4. Reports from the Rwanda Demobilization and Reintegration Commission received in July 2015. 5. Martin Edmonds, Greg Mills, and Terence McNamee, “Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration and Local Ownership in the Great Lakes: The Experience of Rwanda, Burundi, and the Democratic Republic of Congo,” African Security 2, no. 1 (2009): 29–58. 6. Philip Verwimp and Marijke Verpoorten, “What Are All the Soldiers Going to Do? Demobilization, Reintegration, and Employment in Rwanda,” Conflict, Security, and Development 4, no. 1 (April 2004): 39–57. 7. Zigama Credit and Saving Society, March 2017. 8. Benjamin Chemouni, “Paying Your Soldiers and Building the State in Postgenocide Rwanda,” Politics and Spires blog, 8 October 2014, http://politicsinspires .org/paying-soldiers-building-state-postgenocide-rwanda/. 9. Republic of Rwanda, National Police, “Policing a Rapidly Transforming Postgenocide Society: Making Rwanda Feel Safe, Involved, and Reassured” (Kigali: Republic of Rwanda, August 2014). 10. Human Rights Watch, “Rwanda: The Search for Security and Human Rights Abuses,” April 2000. 11. Republic of Rwanda, Law No. 26/2013, 10 May 2013, establishing the District Administration Security Support Organ (DASSO) and defining its responsibilities, organization, and functioning. 12. This desire to legitimize local administration was expressed by Vice President Kagame in his closing speech at the Rwandan Patriotic Front meeting Kicukiro II. 13. Republic of Rwanda, Ministry of Local Government and Social Affairs, National Decentralization Policy (Kigali: Republic of Rwanda, May 2001). 14. Republic of Rwanda, “Report on Meetings Held in the Office of the President of the Republic, May 1998–March 1999,” p. 44.


Rise of a New State

15. International Crisis Group (ICG), Consensual Democracy in Postgenocide Rwanda: Evaluating the March 2001 District Elections, ICG Africa Report No. 34 (Nairobi and Brussels: ICG, October 2001). 16. Among the 80 deputies in the National Assembly, 24 women, or 30 percent of the deputies, are elected separately through representatives of women’s organizations and various levels of the local administration. Other women can also be elected by universal suffrage through political parties, whose electoral lists must include a significant proportion of women. 17. Republic of Rwanda, Ministry of Local Government, Community Development and Social Affairs, Rwanda Five-Year Decentralization Implementation Program (Kigali: Republic of Rwanda, March 2004). 18. International Crisis Group (ICG), “End of the Transition in Rwanda: A Necessary Political Liberation,” ICG Africa Report No. 23, 13 November 2002. 19. Republic of Rwanda, CJC, “Évolution des activités de la Commission Juridique et Constitutionnelle,” October 2001. 20. Observations of the author in Butare and Kibuye prefectures. 21. International Crisis Group (ICG), “End of Transition in Rwanda,” 13 November 2002, p. 7. The information and awareness promotion booklet, for example, makes reference to local inhabitants’ misgivings about political parties. 22. This provision is not contained in the constitution but rather in article 3 of the basic law governing political organizations and politicians, No. 16/2003, 27 June 2003. In May 2007, an amendment to this law put an end to this restriction. Basic law governing political organizations and politicians, No. 19/2007, 4 May 2007. 23. Paul Kagame, press conference, 2 July 2002. 24. It might be useful to point out that a forum for consultation among political parties was a classic instrument of systems of consensual democracy in the world, whether as part of the constitution or not. For example, in Belgium and the Netherlands, similar informal but powerful conclaves existed when these two countries were governed by democratic and consensual political systems in order to manage their structural political divisions. Arend Lijphart, Democracy in Plural Societies: A Comparative Exploration (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1977), pp. 31–33. 25. Republic of Rwanda, Office of the General Prosecutor, “Instruction concernant l’exécution du communiqué présidentiel of 1 January 2003 venant de la Présidence de la République qui concerne la libération provisoire de prisonniers de différentes catégories,” 9 January 2003, p. 25. 26. One of the pillars of the Gacaca tribunals was the procedural confession against a reduction in sentence. 27. Arthur Aslimwe, “Rwanda Releases 8,000 Genocide Prisoners,” Reuters, 19 February 2009. 28. African Rights and REDRESS, “Survivors and Postgenocide Justice in Rwanda” (Kigali/London: African Rights/REDRESS, November 2008). 29. Republic of Rwanda, Chamber of Deputies, “Report of the Ad Hoc Parliamentary Commission Created on 20 January 2004 by Parliament, Chamber of Deputies, in Charge of Examining the Killings Carried Out in Gikongoro Province, the Ideology of Genocide, and Those Who Spread It Throughout Rwanda,” 30 June 2004. 30. Republic of Rwanda, Chamber of Deputies, “Rapport de la Commission Parlementaire de contrôle mise en place on 27 December 2002 pour enquêter sur les problèmes du MDR,” 14 April 2003; Republic of Rwanda, Chamber of Deputies, “Rapport de la Commission Parlementaire ad hoc créée on 20 January 2004 by Parliament, Chambre des Députés, chargée d’examiner les tueries perpétrées dans la province de Gikongoro, l’idéologie du génocide et ceux qui la propagent partout in Rwanda,” 30

Building a New Republic


June 2004; Republic of Rwanda, Chamber of Deputies, Special Commission on the Ideology of Genocide in Schools, December 2007. There was a fourth commission of inquiry, from the Senate, which did not have the same political impact. Republic of Rwanda, Senate, “Genocide Ideology and Strategies for Its Eradication,” 2006. 31. The work of Jean-Pierre Chrétien, Jean-François Duparquier, Marcel Kabanda, and Joseph Ngarambe shows that the roots of the ideology of genocide of the 1993– 1994 period came from the MDR-Parmehutu’s propaganda of the 1960s. Chrétien et al., Rwanda: Les médias du génocide (Paris: Karthala, 1995). 32. International Crisis Group (ICG), “End of Transition in Rwanda,” 13 November 2002, p. 10. 33. Rutihunza, eminence grise of LIPRODHOR and Kabanda faction of MDR Political Bureau interview, in Kay Zeric Smith, Timothy Longman, and Jean-Paul Kimonyo, “Rwanda Democracy and Governance Assessment,” prepared by Managements Systems International (Washington, DC: USAID Office for Democracy and Governance, November 2002), p. 27. 34. IRIN, “Rwanda: Genocide Survivors Flee Province over Killings,” 12 January 2004. 35. Republic of Rwanda, Chamber of Deputies, Special Commission on the Ideology of Genocide in Schools, December 2007. 36. Ibid. 37. Ibid. 38. Ibid. 39. Association des Etudiants Et Éleves Rescapés Du Genocide (AERG) is an association of student survivors of the genocide. 40. Ibid. The Genocide Survivors’ Assistance Fund (FARG) pays the school fees of children who survived the genocide. 41. Ibid. 42. Republic of Rwanda, Law No. 47/2001, article 3, 18 December 2001, on repression of crimes of discrimination and practice of sectarianism. 43. Republic of Rwanda, Law No. 33bis/2003, 6 September 2003, on repression of the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. 44. Republic of Rwanda, Law No. 18/2008, 23 July 2008, on repression of the crime of ideology of genocide. 45. Republic of Rwanda, Ministry of Justice, “Genocide Ideology Law Report” (Kigali: Republic of Rwanda, 22 September 2010), p. 9. 46. Republic of Rwanda, Ministry of Justice, “A Legal Analysis of Rwanda’s 2008 Ideology of Genocide Law and Its Application” (Kigali: Republic of Rwanda, November 2009). 47. Republic of Rwanda, Ministry of Justice, “Genocide Ideology Law Report” (Kigali: Republic of Rwanda, 22 September 2010), p. 8. 48. Republic of Rwanda, Law No. 84/2013, 11 September 2013, concerning the crime of ideology of genocide and other related infractions. 49. Moses Gahigi, “Threats to Survivors Diminishing—Police,” New Times, 3 May 2010; Republic of Rwanda, National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide, “État de l’idéologie du génocide au Rwanda: 1995–2015” (Kigali: Republic of Rwanda, 2016). 50. “The candidate to the president of the Republic of Rwanda, Faustin Twagiramungu, replied this Thursday to the convocation of the National Electoral Commission (CEN) asking him to explain the text in his campaign brochure where he declares wanting to promote a segregationist policy, a text that he regretted and attributed to ‘a typing error,’” reported Panapress, 14 August 2003, -confronte-avec-ses-ecrits-juges--divisionnistes--13-698081-17-lang2-index.html.


Rise of a New State

51.The National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) documented this information in an unpublished report in Kinyarwanda. NURC, “Rapport sur la campagne électorale et les élections présidentielles,” September 2003. 52. Agence France Presse, 24 August 2003. 53. European Union Electoral Observation Mission, Rapport final, Rwanda: Élections présidentielles 25 août 2003, p. 4. 54. African Union, “Statement by the African Union Observer/Monitoring Team on the August 25, 2003 Presidential Election in Rwanda” (Kigali: African Union, 26 August 2003). 55. South African Observer Mission to the 2003 Presidential Elections in Rwanda, Media Release, August 2003. 56. Amani Forum, Rwanda 2003 Presidential Elections, Press Release, 26 August 2003. 57. Agence France Presse, Rwanda-élections: La Belgique désavoue les observateurs de l’UE, AFP News Bulletin, 9 October 2003. 58. Human Rights Watch, World Report 2004 (New York: Human Rights Watch, January 2005), p. 150. 59. The party FDU-Inkingi is the result of the fusion of several political parties including the Rassemblement pour le retour des réfugiés et de la démocratie au Rwanda (RDR). The RDR was created in April 1995 in Bukavu as a replacement for the “government in exile” of the génocidaires in order to build a more presentable international image. Victoire Ingabire became the president of the RDR in 2000. Servilien Sebasoni, “Republican Rally for Democracy in Rwanda,” New Times, 3 October 2007. 60. YouTube, “Madam Ingabire Victoire Umuhoza at Gisozi, 16 January 2010,” 61. Rwanda News Agency, “Drama in FDU-Inkingi’s Ntawangundi Appeal Case,” 16 April 2010. 62. In October 2012, Victoire Ingabire was sentenced to eight years in prison for jeopardizing state security and banalization of the genocide. There were irregularities at the trial, but documents seized at her domicile in the Netherlands by the Dutch authorities proved her implication in an attempt to create an armed group, including the organization chart of a future rebellion in her handwriting. Mehdi Ba, “Rwanda: L’aventure ambiguë de Victoire Ingabire,” Jeune Afrique, 25 October 2015. 63. Human Rights Watch, “Rwanda: Silencing Dissent Ahead of Elections,” 2 August 2010. 64. “Nyamwasa Breaks Silence: I Planned to Overthrow Kagame,” City Press, 29 July 2012. 65. Commonwealth Secretariat, Rwanda Presidential Elections, Report of the Commonwealth Observer Group, 9 August 2010, p. 17. 66. “Kagame’s Gicumbi Rally Attracts Monumental Crowd of over 150,000,” New Times, 3 August 2010. 67. National Institute of Statistics Rwanda (NISR), “Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey 4” (EICV 4, 2013–2014), shows that Gicumbi is the country’s second poorest district. 68. Gicumbi had answered this same question by “slight” with 55 percent, Gakenke with 78 percent, Northern Province with 70 percent, and at the national level by 67 percent. Alfred Ndahiro and Anasthase Shyaka, “Survey of Rwandans’ Perceptions of Government Achievements in the Last Seven Years (2003–2010),” June 2010. 69. Republic of Rwanda, Office of the President, “Summary Table of the Status of Promises to the People Made by the President and Other Leaders,” March 2010. 70. Commonwealth Secretariat, Report of the Commonwealth Observer Group, pp. 31–32.

9 The Road to Socioeconomic Transformation

The low level of corruption and the significant effectiveness achieved by the Rwandan government are the result of systematic and sustained efforts. The reforms that made these results possible were implemented in two stages. During the first stage, described in an earlier chapter in this book, President Paul Kagame’s leadership imposed principles of accountability and respect for the rule of law on politicians, high officials, and the business world. During the second stage, the subject of this chapter, an intense administrative effort sought to give this policy of accountability a more solid institutional footing. In substance, these two stages overlapped because of the executive domination on the state apparatus. The country’s rapid socioeconomic advancements rest on these pillars of governance. Institutionalization of Administrative Efficient Governance Just after the genocide and civil war, the new leadership turned to the administrative institutions inherited from the previous regime and that then functioned for several more years. The creation of new institutions, which began in 1998, sought to do away with the past. The existing structures deriving from the French-speaking Africa administrative tradition were deemed unsatisfactory. In the executive branch, the taxing and feecollecting departments were too dependent on the Ministry of Finance. Decisionmakers sought to introduce more “checks and balances” within the executive branch by rendering its economic governance institutions stronger and more autonomous. The first of these institutions, the National Tender Board, was rushed into existence in November 1997 to counter the numerous abuses in 203


Rise of a New State

awarding public contracts. After the board functioned for several years, centralization of the awarding of important public contracts in this single institution created a bottleneck and caused many delays in the administration’s operations. This situation was taken advantage of by fraudsters to multiply exemptions in order to use the emergency procedure of singlesourced contracts. In April 2007, a new law on awarding public contracts was adopted, and in February 2008 the Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA) replaced the National Tender Board. The RPPA decentralized the process for awarding public contracts and created an independent entity for appealing its decisions. The RPPA was adapted to the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness and the Accra Agenda for Action. This permits donors to support the Rwandan system for awarding public contracts, which in turn facilitates the granting of direct budget support. The Rwanda Revenue Authority was created in November 1997 to reinforce the collection of taxes and fees. It had an anticorruption unit. Again, it was a question of moving quickly to clean up practices that had become uncontrollable and stopping numerous privileges granted to politicians, high-ranking military officers, and powerful businesspeople on the importation of goods. In June 1998, the Bureau of the Auditor General was created to audit ministries and companies owned by the state. One of its first actions was to take 6,000 fictitious civil servants off the government’s payroll, and 6,000 others were fired for lack of appropriate qualifications. The quality of the auditor general’s reports improved over the years by forcing the administrators to submit increasingly complete accounting documents. However, in 2014 the auditor general’s work revealed the deterioration of administrative and financial practices of many public institutions.1 In April 2011, the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee was established in order, among other things, to remedy the lack of follow-up on the auditor general’s reports to parliament. This committee held public hearings with political and administrative heads of government institutions and exerted pressure on the executive and judiciary to more vigorously take action in cases of mismanagement. In 2004, the Office of the Ombudsman was created to combat corruption and injustice. This office collects the annual declarations of patrimony of government high officials and monitors the application of the law covering the code of conduct of the heads of public institutions. It serves as recourse for citizens against acts carried out by the administration considered unjust. The Office of the Ombudsman also has a specialized anticorruption unit. The first ombudsman, Tito Rutaremara, adopted an activist interpretation of his mandate. He was eventually given expanded powers to carry out his mission: the power of judicial police, prosecutor, bailiff, requisition, and administrative sanctions. The ombudsman can review deci-

The Road to Socioeconomic Transformation


sions made by ordinary appellate, commercial, and military courts that appear to be unfair and appeal to the Supreme Court. At the time of its creation, the Office of the Ombudsman, an innovative institution in a country used to an omnipotent administration, was well received among modest people seeking recourse against the administration. The initial enthusiasm reflected in the large number of requests faded a bit later, but requests for intervention increased from year to year, putting the ombudsman’s services under pressure to respond within a reasonable time. The organic budget law was adopted in September 2006. It determines the powers, roles, and responsibilities of participants in the system for managing public expenditures by more clearly separating the prerogatives of the executive branch from those of the legislative branch. In 2007, the government began a public expenditure and financial assessment. That exercise examined the process of authorizing and justifying expenditures, collecting revenue, awarding contracts, and managing government property. As a result of that review, the government adopted a medium-term action plan providing for a review of the configuration of its management system and introduced many adjustments to the main management institutions of public affairs. The improvements thus obtained reinforced donors’ confidence in the country’s system of public management and made possible a substantial increase in the portion of direct budgetary aid. In May 2001, the National Examinations Council was created for the management of the exam system in primary and secondary public and private schools that follow the national program. The increased fairness in the conduct of exams had widespread social repercussions following the arbitrariness that had existed in that domain during the Habyarimana regime. Anecdotal accounts describe children of modest origins and from rural areas who were granted the best scholarships for studying abroad since the examination system was overhauled. In January 2009, a gender observatory was established and charged with promoting the processing of desegregated gender data. These institutions were established to ensure equity in the provision of public services; however, they are not exempt from a certain level of influence peddling. In 2009, there was a new series of prosecutions of relatively highly placed officials. The director of the National Institute of Statistics Rwanda (NISR), the director general of the Central Public Investment and External Finance Bureau (CEPEX), three permanent secretaries of ministries, twelve directors of prisons, and officials of the Genocide Survivors’ Assistance Fund (FARG) were arrested for corruption or embezzlement.2 Since 2009, the decreased number of prosecutions of those responsible for largescale corruption seems to indicate that the previous round of prosecutions played a dissuasive role but also pushed corrupt officials to use more discreet and sophisticated methods.


Rise of a New State

A Resurgence of Political Intervention Despite the growing effectiveness of the administrative institutions in the country’s governance, the administration found it difficult to take charge of politically sensitive situations on a number of occasions, requiring the intervention of the executive branch at the highest level. An episode in 2008 left a mark: the redistribution of land in Eastern Province belonging to some of the most powerful men in the country and headed, in the field, by President Kagame. Upon returning to Rwanda in 1994, some high-ranking political and military leaders granted themselves large land concessions essentially from the public domain, while other land was bought from private parties. At that time, it was possible for large-herd owners to legally receive up to 25 hectares of land for 50 cows, and to hold a total of up to 100 hectares, a very large area in the Rwandan context.3 Together with land they shared with family members, some public figures had created extensive holdings that sometimes reached several hundred hectares. When land was redistributed at the end of the 1990s, these concessions had not been touched, causing tension with neighboring inhabitants who did not have enough land for their livestock and crops. Cases of expansion of some ranches to the detriment of less powerful neighbors led to tensions that were frequently reported in the media. In 2006, President Kagame gave instructions to the minister of Lands, Environment, Forestry, Water, and Mining to carry out an inquiry and solve the issue. The minister, who was under pressure, did not act. A police commission was later established to investigate and propose solutions to the problem.4 That was followed by the creation of another commission, this time within the army, with the same task. In 2007, conflicts between neighbors and large-holdings landowners were being reported more and more often in the local press. Influential proprietors used local officials to evict their small-holdings neighbors and expand their land ownership. At a press conference on 20 April 2007, journalists asked the president about the issue. In his answer, President Kagame recognized the extent of the problem, adding that even some ministers were involved. In June 2007, the president ordered the fusion of the police and army commissions and named General Fred Ibingira, himself a large-holdings landowner in the region, to head the commission. The commission established the principle of limiting main landowners to 25 hectares. Parents associated with former large holdings had the right to 10 hectares each. These large pieces of land were granted to large-holdings livestock owners so that they could continue to exploit them commercially. In January 2008, after a lack of results, President Kagame visited Eastern Province for four days to oversee the redistribution of land himself. The three


The Road to Socioeconomic Transformation

first concessions to be redistributed belonged to Senator Joseph Karemera; the chief of staff of the presidency, General Frank Mugambage; and the ambassador of Rwanda to India, General Kayumba Nyamwasa.5 The new beneficiaries gained immediate possession of their land. On the following days, Minister for Local Administration Protais Musoni; a retired general, Sam Kaka; and two generals in active service along with the commission’s chairman, General Ibingira, divided their land in the presence of President Kagame.6 Most of the concessions redistributed during those four days each measured more than three hundred hectares. After that, more than 30,000 hectares were redistributed in the Gatsibo, Kayonza, and Nyagatare districts.7 Efficient Institutions of Governance The Control of Corruption Index, which has the oldest data for Rwanda on corruption, shows the country’s progress on the matter (Table 9.1). In 1996 Rwanda was at the very bottom of the scale in sub-Saharan Africa, along with Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, and Sierra Leone. The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), of Transparency International, whose data on Rwanda began in 2006, confirms this evolution: In the CPI, Rwanda rose from number 121st in the world in 2006, to 48th in 2017, which was 4th best in Africa.8 A level of bad practices persisted, nonetheless, and has slightly fluctuated over time. They are described in the auditor general’s annual reports, which detail millions of dollars lost to the public treasury because of embezzlement, waste, and mismanagement from year to year. These reports show a drop in the amounts lost by the public treasury since 2008 but strong recurrence beginning in 2013. After the campaigns to combat corruption at the beginning of the 2000s and the loss of the power of signature on the disbursement of funds by ministers and district mayors, the perception of large-scale corruption, although it did not disappear, decreased considerably and was replaced by corruption of middle-level cadres in the administration. At the social level, the rejection of corruption, especially among the younger age groups, seems to be decreasing. Two World Values surveys Table 9.1 Control of Corruption Index (percentile of rank 0–100) Year

1996 1998 2000 2002 2004 2005 2006 2007 2009 2010 2011 2013 2014 2015 2016

Percent 20










Source: World Bank, Worldwide Governance Indicators, 2017.







Rise of a New State

made at an interval of five years provide indications confirming this. In 2007, in answer to the question of whether accepting corruption could be justifiable, 48 percent of those questioned answered “never,” with all age groups giving proportionally the same answer. In 2012, only 29 percent answered “never.” This time, 27 percent of those under 29 years old gave this answer, 28 percent for those from 30 to 49 years old, and 35 percent for those more than 50 years of age.9 An increase in corruption led to new political mobilization to combat it. A special meeting of the National Anticorruption Advisory Council in April 2015 brought together the heads of national institutions working in the field of governance. Increased corruption was also denounced in July 2015 during a national consultation on new forms of corruption organized by the Senate. The two meetings called for better coordination across all areas of governance.10 In March 2016, during the thirteenth national leadership retreat bringing together high government officials, the lack of results of legal steps to combat misappropriation committed by public officials was discussed. Reacting to that reality, President Kagame proposed that, if prosecution was difficult, the government would make full use of administrative rules and regulations. 11 At least partially as a result of that directive, in January 2017 more than 500 officials of the local administration were forced to resign because of incompetence or corruption. 12 One month later, the government approved the dismissal of 198 police officers, including many high-ranking officers, essentially for corruption.13 The progress in governance that the country recorded since efforts began in 1998 moved it from the group of African countries among the most corrupt to those countries that are the least corrupt. This reduction in corruption contributed to the establishment of social and political stability and permitted optimization of the country’s limited resources. In light of the severe economic handicaps resulting from its landlocked position, the small size of its market, and its weak productive forces, comparison of data across sectors suggests that progress in governance was Rwanda’s main comparative advantage and the basis for its recent economic development.14 On the technical level, the process of institutionalization of efficient administrative governance grew and has been pursued while remaining dependent on political power. The political leadership’s pressure for adopting a policy of public probity resulted in the administration implementing those proposals with diligence. This situation can be explained by the political nature of the process of change from which these institutions originate. However, it seems that important sections of the country’s political society have not yet internalized the norms of public probity that would reinforce the autonomy of these institutions.

The Road to Socioeconomic Transformation


Economic Reforms During the immediate postgenocide years, at the same time that the government was rehabilitating various aspects of the country’s socioeconomic fabric, the administration adopted a policy of economic liberalization and concentrated on reforming public service. For reasons of doctrinal conviction and donors’ influence, the government was determined to give more opportunities to the private sector in the reconstruction process. Quickly the main mechanisms of economic control by the government inherited from the Habyarimana regime were dismantled. Price-control systems were abolished altogether, and a fluctuating exchange-rate system was implemented. Import duties were reduced, and the coffee sector was totally liberalized, permitting competition in all aspects of production. The retention of foreign currencies from the sale of coffee and tea was reduced and then abolished. Allowing international competition produced a general contraction of the number in the industrial sector and a drastic reduction of industries of import substitution inherited from the pregenocide period. Efforts were made to improve the collection of taxes and fees by focusing initially on the 150 largest taxpayers, which at that time represented 80 percent of the tax base. A process of privatization of government enterprises was begun in 1997. In ten years, 75 public enterprises were sold and 7 others were liquidated, including Air Rwanda, the national airline. Privatization marked the almost total retreat of the government from the industrial sector, accompanied by reengagement in strategic service projects such as the establishment in 1997 of mobile telephone services with MTN, a multinational mobile telecommunications company, and the construction of a five-star hotel, the Intercontinental, in 2003. In 2000, the country adopted a value-added tax. Taxes were also lowered. Other important reforms were made in the banking sector, and the first institutions of economic governance (described above) were further developed. The postgenocide government made reform of the civil service a priority, with the goal of increasing efficiency and motivating its officials. For that, it decreased their number—except for that of teachers, for whom it provided training and increased salaries. In 1999, 6,000 fictitious employees were debunked and removed from the government’s payroll, and 6,000 others were dismissed. Those who were retained received an average salary increase of 40 percent. Despite a relatively low level of education and lower level of expertise compared with that of the countries of the East African Community (EAC), the new officials proved to be hardworking and efficient, with, it seems, more creativity in implementing complex policies than in conceiving them.15 In 2000, the gross domestic product (GDP) size of the postgenocide economy for the first time reached what it had been in 1990.16 Beginning in


Rise of a New State

2000, Rwanda was eligible for relief for highly indebted poor countries and debt cancellation equivalent to 71 percent of its total public debt. Cancellation of debt was effective in January 2006.17 This allowed the government to obtain more loans at concessional rates and to truly relaunch development activities. In compensation, it agreed to implement its Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). Major Socioeconomic Development Strategies The country’s development phase truly began with President Kagame’s launch of the Vision 2020 strategy in July 2000. This document bore the fruit of the Urugwiro Village discussions and later improvements aimed at socioeconomic transformation. It was drafted by experts and then submitted for widespread public comment. Vision 2020 became the strategic framework for the country’s general development trajectory, with other mediumterm strategies considered implementation stages. Vision 2020 seeks to make Rwanda a middle-income country by 2020 and to transform its economy, previously based on subsistence agriculture, to a knowledge-based economy. The country set the goal of reaching an average annual income per inhabitant of $900 (up from $220 in 2000), a poverty rate of 30 percent (down from 60 percent in 2000), and an average life expectancy of 55 years (up from 49 years in 2000). Reinforcement of good governance and government capacities; the development of human resources, the private sector, infrastructure, services, commercial agriculture; and regional integration formed the strategy’s pillars. The conceptualization of Vision 2020 was based on a certain number of assumptions. One of them was that even a modernized and more productive agricultural sector could not serve as the motor of growth permitting the country’s socioeconomic transformation. Another assumption was that natural barriers hindered the growth of industrialization, essentially because the country was landlocked, making transportation expensive. Vision 2020 identified the country’s comparative advantages and concentrated its strategies on them.18 Underlying Vision 2020 was the idea of leapfrogging traditional sectors such as agriculture or even industrialization to focus its ambitions on the service sector, reinforced by new technologies. In May 2012, under the framework of the Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS 2), some goals of Vision 2020 were changed. This included gross national product (GNP) per capita, which was raised to $1,240 to be reached by 2020. For that purpose the country had to reach an average annual growth of 11.5 percent. In addition, under EDPRS 2, the role that light manufacturing was called to play in the country’s development was reinforced.19

The Road to Socioeconomic Transformation


Vision 2020 had an important social echo. People bought into the idea, and the term icyerekezo, “vision” in Kinyarwanda, entered everyday language, often in the form of amusement. It could be found, for example, painted on the back of a bus and on the storefronts of small shops. At the beginning of the 2000s, the impression of a new start was reinforced by the launch of the beautification campaign for the city of Kigali. Later, the Kigali Master Plan established urban zones that led to the construction of tall buildings in the city’s commercial center. Some secondary cities went through a similar but more modest evolution. To his collaborators who did not understand the choice of investing money and efforts in beautifying the capital instead of using the invested resources on other pressing priorities, President Kagame explained that cleanliness, order, and organization were the foundations of value and selfrespect, on the basis of which the creation of wealth became possible.20 These efforts at cleanliness and organization were later not only replicated in other urban centers but also by the administrative and social infrastructure, such as buildings of local administrations, prisons, police stations, schools, hospitals, and health-care centers. Since 2000, three economic strategy documents have been adopted: the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper in 2002, the EDPRS 1 in 2008, and the EDPRS 2 in 2013.21 In 2007, the Millennium Development Goals were formally added to this policy framework. In 2002, the PRSP proposed a rather general strategy covering six large areas. By order of priority, they were development of agriculture, human development (education, health, and other social policies), infrastructure, governance, development of the private sector, and improvement of government institutions. It was a case of a general reinvigorating of the existing main development areas without any real focus. At the end of the PRSP period in 2006, the result was disappointing despite some progress. There had been considerable progress in the political representation of women, who became 49 percent of the members of parliament, the highest in the world at that time. The country also went through significant institutional development. But economic growth of 5 percent, while not insignificant, had slowed down compared with the previous five years, during which the economy had grown at an average of 7.7 percent. The percentage of Rwandans living in poverty had indeed dropped, but only modestly, passing from 60.4 percent in 2001 to 56.9 percent in 2006, while the absolute number of poor actually increased, passing from 4.82 to 5.38 million. Inequality, which was already significant, increased. The Gini coefficient rose from 0.49 to 0.51.22 The benefits of growth accrued to the wealthier urban classes in contrast to the rural and the extremely poor. Rapid demographic growth eroded the benefits of economic growth. Development data for the period 2001–2006 gathered by the second Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey


Rise of a New State

(EICV 2) were analyzed and made available in the National Human Development Report, published in July 2007, with widespread repercussions.23 The report explained that the high level of inequality had slowed growth and the fight against poverty. It stigmatized the weakness of the agricultural sector and concluded by affirming that for the time being, economic growth alone could not solve the problem of poverty. A major social effort was also required. The desire to move away from subsistence agriculture as the main activity seemed to have decreased the interest of decisionmakers in helping this sector. Between 2000 and 2011, the Ministry of Agriculture received 5 percent of the national budget, 50 percent less than the amount committed under the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP). Between 2000 and 2006, the agricultural sector contracted by 4 percent. During this period, the country suffered severe food shortages and was forced to import large quantities of bananas, rice, beans, and other foodstuffs.24 With 79 percent of the population living off agriculture, this sector produced 38 percent of the country’s GNP in 2005.25 Since then, especially with the adoption of EDPRS 2 in 2013, a more balanced development strategy has been put in place that has substantially increased the efforts in agriculture. Anticipating the end of EDPRS 2 in 2018 and that of Vision 2020 in December 2016, the government adopted a new economic strategy document called Vision 2050, which will lead the country toward reaching upper middle income by 2035 and high income by 2050. This overarching strategy will be implemented through seven-year national transformation strategies. 2006: A Turning Point in Rural Development The government’s reaction to the faltering rural economy was vigorous. It launched two major complementary programs: an agricultural development program and another program for local development and social protection. A severe shortage of food during the second half of 2006 also contributed to the concentration of efforts to reinvigorate agriculture. During this period, thousands of people fled the Bugesera region, located some 50 kilometers from Kigali, because of hunger. In July 2007, a special session of the cabinet of ministers led by President Kagame designated the agricultural sector one of the government’s top priorities.26 This priority given to agriculture helped launch the Crop Intensification Program (CIP) in 2007, which called for major government intervention in the agricultural sector. The first element of the CIP was distribution of a technological package, including fertilizers, high-yield seeds, and an offer of management services for dealing with harvests. The second component involved consolidation of the use of land belonging to various persons and their joint and coordinated exploitation. The CIP also called for

The Road to Socioeconomic Transformation


regionalization of crops to function better in similar ecological conditions. This regionalized monoculture aimed to create economies of scale and rationalize the cost of interventions. The CIP was reinforced by a soil and water management program using various techniques for protecting soils. This boost to agriculture made possible a significant increase in food production resulting from extension of cultivated areas and an increase in productivity. This, in turn, resulted in reinforcement of food security. The prevalence of undernourishment was cut by half between 2000 and 2015, although it remained high, at 31 percent.27 The renewed attention on agriculture has not yet succeeded in transforming the structure of agricultural production. Most crops are still far from their potential optimum yield. Only one-third of farms participated in the CIP, and fewer than half use one form or another of fertilizer. The logistics of the distribution of inputs, which the CIP requires, were not stabilized, causing serious losses to farmers. Only a small part of agricultural production is marketed.28 The CIP resulted in government intervention in farming production, which left farmers dependent on government services for distribution of inputs. The monoculture that it created removed the relative security net that the variety of crops had previously provided. The Ministry of Agriculture and its private service providers did not always fulfill their promises in terms of service delivery. In spite of these downsides, the agricultural production has improved a lot in a very degraded context. Since the mid-1980s, the fragmentation of land because of demographic pressure and overexploitation had placed Rwandan subsistence farmers in a situation of serious fragility that required strong government intervention to allow them to survive. The Vision 2020 Umurenge Program (VUP) was launched in 2008 as a program of local development and social protection aimed at reinforcing the productive capacities of the poorer farmers. The program included several components. The first component was based on the infrastructure needs expressed by the population, involving labor-intensive public works projects that provided jobs at the local level. This included the construction of anti-erosion terraces, roads, classrooms, irrigation works, electrification, bridges, and health-care centers. The second component consisted of loans for productive projects. The third included direct monetary transfers to the most vulnerable persons. This program produced spectacular effects by opening access to remote areas through construction of roads and bridges. Because of the limited means compared with the needs, the VUP concentrated mostly on public works and not as much, for example, on loans. By 2014, 600,000 persons spread over half of the country had benefited from the program, which planned to cover the entire country by 2018. It led to real improvement in living conditions for participants, even if the program seemed to profit those who had the most capacity to make the best use of it.29


Rise of a New State

The 2005 Demographic Health Survey showed that 45 percent of children under five years of age suffered from moderate chronic malnutrition and 19 percent suffered from severe malnutrition. In April 2006, the government initiated Girinka, a program for the distribution of cattle to the poorest households to help remedy this situation. Milk consumption would improve the nutritional level of the most vulnerable children, and cow manure served as fertilizer. Girinka was inspired by a central tenet of traditional culture, the gift of a cow. The principle was that each recipient of a cow had to offer the first calf to a person or family in need and on and on. The government is the program’s main source, backed by international aid, but businesses, private parties, important visitors, and groups in the diaspora also contributed. In 2016, more than 245,000 families received a cow under the Girinka program.30 Milk production increased fivefold over ten years. This initiative proved to be effective in combating malnutrition and for fertilizing fields, with notable impact on the incomes of the poorest.31 Institutional Vectors of Rural Development Local development efforts were based on a number of institutions and organizational mechanisms that multiplied the effects. The most important was the local administration as reformed in 2006. In 2001, local administrations focused on the political mobilization of local populations. In 2006, it sought to improve the effectiveness of delivering services, primarily by making administrative services more accessible. The point of supply for these services was moved from districts to sectors, lower on the administrative ladder, which were expanded in size. A new and more accessible administrative level was added closer to the population: the Umudugudu (village). The capacity of sectors and districts was raised by increasing the professional profiles and the remuneration of their managers. The districts became legally and financially independent. They supervised the health, education, and water distribution infrastructure and could receive investment funds. Nonetheless, the central government’s influence remained strong, thus limiting the soughtafter effectiveness of the devolution of power. Local leaders became essential and indispensable links and intermediaries between the administration and local populations. By managing important resources, around 25 percent of the national budget, they gained in ability and effectiveness.32 A certain number of unique organizational mechanisms, generally considered to be homegrown solutions at the interface between the local administration and local populations, were added to this institutional framework. The social receptivity to these mechanisms was reinforced by the fact that they often took their inspiration from traditional culture. Among these mechanisms are the Gacaca tribunals, Girinka, Ubudehe, Imihigo, and

The Road to Socioeconomic Transformation


Umuganda. Ubudehe was a traditional system of mutual assistance among neighbors at harvest time and other collective efforts requiring many participants. The updated version is a series of community consultations and deliberations held every two years to identify the most important local socioeconomic problems. These community assemblies place local populations on lists by categories based on revenue and level of vulnerability. They also identify priority community projects. The provision of government services such as subsidized health insurance or bursaries is based on these lists to establish orders of priority of the neediest persons and families. Ubudehe was expanded between 2004 and 2006. Other socio-administrative instruments that turned out to be effective in providing public services, such as Imihigo (performance contracts), were introduced in 2006. These contracts aimed to reinforce the effectiveness and accountability of the local administration. Traditionally, Imihigo designated the exploits committed before the king or head of the army on the eve of combat by the army commanders and great warriors who promised valor during the coming battle.33 The modern version of Imihigo took the form of an annual performance contract between the district mayors and the president of the republic regarding the progress to be made during the coming year. Imihigo included a solemn signature ceremony, usually in parliament. The spirit of rivalry created by Imihigo reinforced the efficiency of the provision of services by districts by publicizing their action through an annual scoreboard of the best-performing districts. This recognition also had its shortcomings, such as local administrators making false performance declarations, ignoring the district residents’ development choices in favor of those dictated by the central administration, and coercing local populations. In 2010, a more complete and rigorous evaluation of district performances began, which took into account not only the results achieved but also the way the districts achieved them. One of the negative consequences of the increased financial responsibility granted to districts was the spread of corruption. At the beginning of 2015, several district mayors known for good performance were accused of fraud. Others resigned because of false performance declarations.34 The two programs most affected were also the most popular: Ubudehe and Girinka. Two other mechanisms reinforced the accountability of local administrations to local populations. The first was the National Dialog, Umushyikirano in Kinyarwanda, an annual public assembly presided over by the president of the republic during which various socioeconomic issues and the impact that they had on local populations are discussed. Government ministers ran this two-day assembly in the presence of district mayors, and it was broadcast live on radio and television. The assembly received questions and requests from local populations by television appearances, telephone, text messages, and Facebook in real time. Many people used this forum to present their


Rise of a New State

complaints and denounce the administration’s poor performance and cases of injustice. The following year, the next session of Umushyikirano began with the reading of the report that lists the steps taken in response to problems raised the previous year, along with their dates of implementation. Another aspect of accountability occurred at the time of the president’s visits to the districts, during which the population could speak directly to the head of state and express their concerns. These assemblies were broadcast live on national radio and television. In order to avoid public criticism, local officials did everything they could to solve local problems when they heard that the head of state was going to visit their district. Economic Growth Strategies Despite its preference for economic reconstruction led by the private sector, the government was obliged to reinvest in the productive sector because of that sector’s insufficiency. To quickly revamp economic activity, a threepole growth-promotion strategy was adopted to improve the business climate, develop infrastructure, and invest in traditional sectors showing strong growth potential. In 2001, the government established the Rwandan National Innovation and Competitiveness Program to promote growth in the coffee, tea, and tourism sectors by setting comprehensive growth strategies. An additional goal was to increase added value. The government encouraged the production of fully washed high-quality coffee by creating incentives for private entrepreneurs to invest and create coffee-washing stations, the number of which jumped from 1 in 2000 to 210 in 2013. Producer cooperatives were equipped with coffee-washing stations, and direct contact between exporters and foreign buyers was encouraged. The government also encouraged the uprooting and replacement of old coffee plantations to increase productivity. The price paid to producers increased significantly, rising from 60–80 Rwandan francs in 2004 to 160–180 Rwandan francs in 2008. In 2015, approximately 450,000 persons earned at least part of their income from coffee, whereas in 2000 the sector had been in decline with 90 percent of the production consisting of poor-quality coffee. Fifteen years later, Rwanda sold its coffee to large international buyers such as Starbucks, Green Mountain, Sainsbury’s, Costco, and Walmart. Income from coffee exports rose from less than $20 million in 2003 to around $60 million in 2017, despite lower volumes. The Rwandan coffee sector suffers, nonetheless, from high production costs.35 The volume of tea produced quickly rose to the pre-1994 level but did not improve in quality. In 2001, the government sought to privatize its nine tea-processing plants but could not find a buyer. As a result, it decided to

The Road to Socioeconomic Transformation


invest in the rehabilitation of its plants, reorganize the tea industry, and accelerate privatization, which was completed in 2012. That same year, the government changed the basis for setting the price paid to growers. Instead of being fixed by processing plants as a function of their stated costs, prices to producers were linked to the price of Rwandan tea on the international market. A minimum price was established to protect growers in addition to payment of bonuses and penalties depending on quality. Several years later, high-quality Rwandan tea was sold in Europe in specialized shops instead of being sold only in bulk in Kenya, as had been the tradition. Following a mounting curve similar to that of coffee, tea exports, which in 2000 brought in only $20 million, rose to around $60 million annually in 2010–2014. Tourism and mining gradually became the leading sources of the country’s foreign currency. After a peak of 22,000 visitors in 1990, the tourist sector almost completely collapsed because of the civil war and the genocide.36 In 2001, the government established a tourism working group, with the involvement of the private sector, to draft a national strategy to reinvigorate this sector. The group focused on Volcanoes National Park and its mountain gorillas for development of a niche tourism sector. Exploitation of Volcanoes National Park involves not only generating income and foreign exchange but also serving as a conservation framework for the protection of mountain gorillas—an endangered species—primarily by limiting the number of visitors. Visits to the park also help local communities through a scheme whereby 5 percent of the park’s revenues are paid directly to these communities each year. Aggressive international marketing was used, including the innovative Kwita Irina ceremony, during which a name is given to infant gorillas born during the previous twelve months. Celebrities such as Bill Gates, Natalie Portman, and Ted Turner have participated. One of the factors that supported promotion of Volcanoes National Park was the construction of the five-star Intercontinental Hotel, despite the resistance of donors. Similar efforts were made for the Nyugwe Forest National Park and Akagera National Park but yielded more modest results. In 2007, a review of the national tourism strategy expanded its scope to integrate the conference industry. To back this policy but also to turn Rwanda into a logistical hub, the government invested in complementary strategic infrastructures with the reestablishment in 2009 of the national airline, rebranded as RwandAir, and the construction of the Bugesera airport and an ambitious complex of conference rooms, the Kigali Convention Center (KCC). Development of this tourist sector infrastructure was complemented by the construction of four- and five-star hotels managed by major companies such as Radisson Blu and Marriott. These efforts have begun to bear fruit with large conferences in Kigali, such as the World Economic Forum in May 2016 and two months later the African Union summit. Whereas the country was ranked thirteenth in Africa in 2014 in the classification of the


Rise of a New State

International Congress and Convention Association, which tracks the number of international conferences organized, in 2016 and again in 2017 it had climbed to third place.37 Revenue generated by tourism grew from $27 million in 2000 to $438 million in 2017, becoming the country’s primary source of foreign currency.38 The mining sector was the subject of similar modernizing efforts. In 2003, mineral exports were $11 million, but by 2013 they were worth $225 million and represented one-third of total exports.39 After this peak, because of a brutal drop in international demand, revenue from the export of minerals collapsed, contributing to a worsening of the balance of payments and a rapid degradation of the exchange rate of the Rwandan franc against the US dollar.40 Since then, growth and the balance of payments have strengthened substantially. Development of the country’s infrastructure continues on the basis of two sources of identified needs: government planning and the wishes of the local populations. Among the felt needs are development of infrastructure in the form of roads, hospitals, electricity lines, and covered markets demanded by the population and promised by the president and other highranking officials during visits in upcountry districts. The country has made considerable progress in the construction and rehabilitation of roads. Approximately 73 percent of national roads are now considered to be in good condition, substantially lowering the cost of road transport inside the country.41 Electricity generation is a field that underwent an evolution well below expectations, with serious consequences for the competitiveness of the country’s economy. In 2013, electricity in Rwanda cost two times more than the average price in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.42 It was one of the most penalizing limitations for all sizes of enterprises. However, investment since 2010 has made it possible to multiply electricity generation capacity fourfold, passing from 45 megawatts to 208 megawatts between 2006 and the end of 2016. Access to electricity tripled between 2010 and 2016 and reached around 30 percent of the total population. The price for industries and the poorest households also decreased at the end of 2016 by 30 and 50 percent, respectively, and became practically aligned with that in Kenya and Uganda.43 One of the pillars of Vision 2020 is the use of information and communication technology (ICT) as an accelerator of development. In 2000, the National Information Communication Infrastructure Plan I (NICI I) was launched, which called for the creation of an appropriate legal and regulatory environment. That was followed in 2005 by NICI II and the creation of strategic infrastructure. Under that plan, optical fiber cable was installed, joining the underwater backbone Internet cables off the shores of Kenya and Tanzania. The cable network connects 30 district capitals. At the same time, the government constructed a national data center. Implementation of

The Road to Socioeconomic Transformation


NICI III for commercial exploitation of ICT began in 2010. As part of this sector’s development, Rwanda attracted Carnegie Mellon University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, world leader in research and innovation in new technologies, which opened a postgraduate program in engineering in Kigali, awarding the same diploma as in the United States. In 2016, Rwanda was in first place in sub-Saharan Africa, except for South Africa, in the Networked Readiness Index, a measure of ICT development. The components show, however, the preponderant role of government in the use of ICT, far ahead of the private sector. ICT has an important social impact but only modest direct economic effects.44 There is, however, an ambiguity in the public discourse as to the purpose of the development of ICT: should it be used as an enabler of other development activities or is it aimed at the creation of an ICT services and products industry? The government relaunched its effort for the promotion of the private sector and made it one of its top priorities. In July 2007, the recently created Presidential Advisory Council held its first meeting with President Kagame in New York. This group of international entrepreneurs and academics advises the president on how to achieve the Vision 2020 goals through private investment, while providing access to business contacts and networks. On the basis of this advice, the government established the National Doing Business Task Force to manage the multiple reforms needed to improve the business environment and the country’s standing in the World Bank’s Doing Business ranking. Rwanda made spectacular progress in this ranking and for several years was the country that implemented the most reforms in the world. Rwanda passed from 150th place in the world in 2008 to 41st in the world and 2nd in Africa in 2017.45 The country made the most progress on increasing access to credit, which has had important repercussions on the local private sector. For this reform, the country moved from 158th place in 2008 to 2nd in the world in 2016. However, ease of access to credit is counterbalanced by high interest rates in a small market with relatively low rates of return on investment.46 In September 2008, the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) was established. Inspired by the Singaporean model, its mission was to centralize the promotion of private investment. It brought together eight former government agencies with overlapping activities. Integration of Rwanda into the East African Community (EAC) in July 2009, reinforced by the adoption of English as the language of education in October 2008, has had a major economic and cultural impact. The use of English and closer economic ties with East Africa were already well under way before those measures were adopted. Even though almost the entire population speaks Kinyarwanda, in the administration, education, and business worlds, the country was split between the use of French and English, which was a source of social division and prevented the mastery of at least


Rise of a New State

one foreign language in the country. The immediate application of the measure at all levels of education produced a shock in the education system, and the portion of the professional population educated in French only gradually caught up. The concentration of resources in one single foreign language facilitated the rapid extension of access to education but led also to a dramatic drop of quality of eduction, especially in primary schools.47 Economic integration into the EAC allowed Rwanda to move closer to a region with bigger markets, such as those of Kenya and Uganda, and to strengthen its ties with countries on which its access to the sea depends. Imports from the EAC countries continued to increase after Rwanda joined the EAC, to the detriment of its small import substitution industry. But since 2010, the trade deficit with the other EAC countries has stabilized. In addition, Rwanda benefited from foreign direct investment, especially from Kenya, which is its main source of capital. A large part of Kenyan investment is in the financial sector, contributing significantly to its dynamism. Regional integration made it possible to significantly lower the cost of nontariff barriers and of administrative annoyances. Even if the cost of importing and exporting a container has remained the same since 2008— more than double the world average—the number of days and documents to be filled out have sharply decreased, which shifted Rwanda in the World Bank’s Doing Business ranking for cross-border trade from 166th place in 2008 to 88th in 2018.48 Kenya and Uganda also provide Rwanda valuable human resources at all levels of economic activity. The lack of human resources was for a long time one of the main constraints confronting the private sector, especially in large enterprises with more than a hundred employees.49 Even if the employment problems that young people encounter stem more from weak demand than weak supply, a low quality of education and insufficient alignment of training with market needs certainly play an important role.50 Economic and social progress has been heavily financed by international aid, which up until 2016 represented between 30 and 40 percent of the country’s investment budget but has fallen afterward. This flow of aid was made possible through the government’s rigorous management, implementing almost to the letter the principles of the Paris Declaration for reinforcing the effectiveness of aid. The main pillar of this policy was national appropriation, harmonization of aid—with active participation of the Rwandan government—and mutual accountability between donors and recipients. Spectacular Socioeconomic Progress Between 2006 and 2011, one million people rose out of poverty. The four provinces had progressed faster than Kigali, the capital. The poorest and

The Road to Socioeconomic Transformation


the richest levels of society were the main beneficiaries of this progress. Meanwhile, the urban middle classes saw their living standard stagnate. Although inequality remained high, it had decreased. 51 One of the most significant evolutions for Rwanda was the change in the fertility rate from 5.1 children per woman in 2005 to 3.8 in 2014, “one of the biggest drops in the history of demography and health studies.”52 With this rapid drop in fertility, Rwanda entered a demographic transition in 2000. The active population, the 15- to 64-year-olds, began to grow faster than that of dependents, the younger than 15-year-olds, and the over-65-year-olds. In 2020, the 15- to 64-year-olds will represent 60 percent of the population. 53 In September 2015, the publication of the EICV 4 (2013–2014) along with the Demographic and Health Survey (2014–2015) seemed to show a continuation of the progress observed earlier. 54 In 15 years, Rwanda recorded rapid progress in reducing poverty, population growth, and the portion of the population living off subsistence agriculture. In addition, life expectancy, the rate of urbanization, and the level of education increased significantly. This evolution reflected a society in rapid transition that was moving away from its traditional agrarian roots, its very high birth rate, and its extreme poverty while still experiencing deep inequality. (See Table 9.2.) In September 2015, Rwanda had achieved almost all the Millennium Development Goals except those calling for the halving of the level of poverty, reducing child mortality, and increasing the proportion of working women outside agriculture. However, the goal concerning extreme poverty and certain goals concerning health have been more than met.55 Serious challenges are the stunting level that remains high compared with other African countries with the same level of income and the quality of basic education, which is one of the worst in the world.56 These indicators that make up the human capital index compiled by the World Bank are predic-

Table 9.2 Selected Indicators, 2000–2014 Indicator

Percentage in extreme poverty Percentage in poverty Gini coefficient Fertility rate Life expectancy (years) Urban population (%) Subsistence farmers (%) Net rate of secondary school enrollment (%)

2000 40 56.7 0.52 5.6 48.4 14.9 85 6.9

2005 35 44.9 0.49 5.1 55.4 19.2 71 10.4

2014 16 39.1 0.44 4.0 66.1 27.8 58 23.0

Sources: Data from National Institute of Statistics Rwanda, Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey (EICV) 1, 2, 3, and 4; World Bank, World Development Indicators, 2017.


Rise of a New State

tors of the productivity level of the next generation, and their current values represent serious handicaps to the transformation potential of the country.57 Between 1990, the year of the creation of the UN Human Development Index, and 2014, Rwanda was the country that made the most progress at the world level on this index.58 Between 2001 and 2014, GDP grew by 8 percent, also one of the fastest growth rates in the world.59 These results have been met with disbelief by a number of critics of the regime who have since denounced manipulation of statistics.60 However, an independent study based on regional statistics tends to confirm the official results by showing the reality of the marked improvement in the living conditions of the populations studied between 2002 and 2008.61 Ongoing Structural Transformation Despite the country’s strong and sustained growth since 2001, the structural transformation of Rwanda’s economy is still at an early stage. Classically, this type of transformation requires a transfer of activities from unproductive sectors toward more productive sectors. In the case of agrarian countries like Rwanda, it entails the diversification of production from subsistence agriculture toward manufacturing industry along with expansion and sophistication of the service sector, which should lead to an increase in exports.62 Another type of transformation would lead to an increase in productivity in the primary sector itself, agriculture, via accumulation of capital, technological change, and better allocation of resources among enterprises. In that case, the lack of transformation would not stem from the fact that the agricultural sector continued to retain its importance but rather from the absence of modernization of this sector.63 The rapid transformation of global value chains under the effect of technological developments is blurring this classic pattern without necessarily putting it totally at fault for a country like Rwanda if it refocuses its economic strategies at the regional level. Rwanda’s economy has experienced a substantial level of diversification: the agricultural sector dropped from 45.51 percent in 1998 to 30.95 percent of GDP in 2017; during the same period services rose from 35.77 percent to 46.38 percent. Industry dropped from 18.70 percent in 1998 to 13.46 percent in 2005 and rose again to 15.76 percent in 2017.64 However, the country’s economy faces a number of structural challenges on its path to transformation. Recent efforts have not yet increased significantly the level of manufacturing in the economy, which was 6.58 percent of GDP in 2005 and 5.92 percent of GDP in 2017.65 The relatively high level of investment, around 25 percent of GDP, is dominated by public investment, which is double that of private investment.66 Growth mostly depends on nonex-

The Road to Socioeconomic Transformation


portable sectors such as services provided by the government, health, education, construction, and retail trade. Because of this, the level of exports is low. The trade deficit is still in large part compensated by international aid, on which the country remains dependent. The African Transformation Index shows that for the period 2000– 2010, Rwanda is third out of 21 African countries to have transformed the most, while at the same time remaining among the least transformed (18/21).67 Rwanda, like most African countries, went through a process of relatively broad diversification of its economy, with a transfer of its productive forces from agriculture toward services. For African countries, the development of the manufacturing sector has a higher potential of structural transformation than do mining and services, the two other high-productivity sectors. This is explained by the fact that the manufacturing sector creates more nonfarming jobs and considerably strengthens exports.68 In 2016, the UN Economic Commission for Africa stresses that Rwanda’s recent strong growth shows that the importance granted to the development of services to the detriment of manufacturing explains the relatively low level of structural transformation of the country’s economy.69 However, the progress in improving institutions, infrastructure, and the business climate make it one of the sub-Saharan countries with a more complex economy, and therefore it will be capable of strong growth in the future.70 In 2017, during the evaluation of EDPRS 2 (2013–2018), the government realized the need to accelerate the process of transforming the country’s economy. To do this, it designed a National Strategy for Transformation (2017–2024) as the first step toward achieving a status of upper-middle-income status by 2035. The not-finalized document presents new, more balanced strategy pillars, the establishment of a knowledge-based economy, the promotion of industrialization, the modernization of agriculture, urbanization, and domestic savings. The still early stage of transformation of Rwanda’s economy is the source of the two major challenges to the economy that the country may have to face in the near future: a low level of domestic weak exports that produces deep structural deficit of the trade balance in the context of a trend of lower levels of aid and a capacity for creating employment that does not meet needs.71 In 2017, the working-age population of 16 and above had a labor force participation rate of 53 percent, while the unemployment rate stood at 17.9 percent, only 1 percent lower than a year before. Among the unemployed, 24.8 percent had completed secondary school, and 17.5 percent have a higher education diploma. Unemployment is a phenomenon that especially affects well-educated urban youths. The unemployment rate among young persons 16–30 years old was 21.7 percent. Of those, 31.9 percent had completed secondary school and 29.4 percent completed a university education.72


Rise of a New State

EDPRS 2, which covers 2013–2018, seeks to create 200,000 new nonfarming jobs annually, but between 2006 and 2014 only 122,000 new jobs were created, and most of those were in the informal sector. The number of jobs needed is expected to increase in the near future.73 One of the country’s main social challenges is the level of widespread underemployment. The average weekly actual worked hours is 33.1, considered underemployment. Low earnings are mainly a consequence of underemployment and mostly concentrated in rural areas. Here again NISR records a slight increase of hours worked in 2017 compared with the year before.74 Most employees have very low incomes, and in 2011 one-third of their salaries were below the national poverty threshold.75 In 2017, 90 percent of employees had an informal job, including a significant number of those working in the formal sector.76 This picture of the employment situation hides, however, more positive aspects. Rapid intrasectoral transfer of the labor force has taken place since 2001. That year, 89 percent of the population had its main occupation in agriculture. Ten years later, that proportion had dropped to 70 percent.77 Unfortunately, this movement seems to have slowed down during the subsequent three years. Between 2006 and 2011, wages increased by 66 percent in all sectors of activity. In agriculture, this increase reduced almost by half the number of incomes below the poverty threshold, the main cause of the sharp drop in poverty during that period. Workers who left agriculture saw their incomes increase the most, but most new jobs were in the informal sector.78 On the demand side, things have also evolved rapidly. A World Bank report presented three significant improvements. First, the number of formal and informal private enterprises increased by 24 percent between 2011 and 2014, and the number of their employees increased 34 percent during the same period. Second, between 2011 and 2014, around 1,000 additional formal enterprises were recorded. This evolution has been accompanied by a 50 percent increase in the number of jobs in this type of enterprise. Third, the number of large enterprises—in the Rwandan context that means those with 100 employees or more—doubled; although the number started very low, employment in this category of businesses increased by more than half. Large companies constitute only 0.1 percent of private enterprises in Rwanda but offer close to 20 percent of formal private-sector jobs.79 The number of new enterprises created since 2008 resulted in a strong increase in the export of manufactured products. The industrial sector, especially mining, has contributed the most to development of formal employment.80 These increases in company creation and in the number of jobs they offer came from a very low base and need to be sustained to have a stronger impact. Since 2012, when the government was preparing EDPRS 2, the question of employment led to an adjustment in relation to the importance to be accorded to industrialization, notably vis-à-vis the service sector. Subsec-

The Road to Socioeconomic Transformation


toral policies that address the country’s two main economic challenges, employment and the trade deficit, have been adopted in relation to manufacturing and export. The most spectacular concretization of this turning point was the Made in Rwanda initiative. This is the public face of a new policy called the 2015 Domestic Market Recapturing Strategy (DMRS), which is in addition to other existing industrial policies and reinforces them. In contrast with the laissez-faire approach that had long characterized manufacturing policies oriented essentially to improving the business environment and infrastructure, this new policy is interventionist, although based on a partnership with private enterprises, often foreign.81 It aims essentially to substitute imports and strengthen exports by targeting three priority sectors: construction materials, light manufacturing, and transformation of agricultural products. Initially, the targeted products were sugar, rice, cement, and textiles. In 2015, imports of these products had cost $221 million, 16 percent of the trade deficit.82 Public aid for increasing production, trade facilities for exports, credit at reduced interest rates, and opportunities for government contracts have been offered.83 The DMRS initiative met early success. During the first eight months of 2016, imports of sugar and similar products dropped by 25 percent and those of cement by 40 percent compared with the same period of the previous year. Between 2014 and 2017, cement production tripled, and sugar and rice production increased by 40 percent. The textile industry, benefiting from the rise in prices for secondhand clothes and shoes introduced in mid-2016, saw its production leap, with many jobs created.84 The Made in Rwanda campaign and other initiatives of import substitution or exportation have contributed significantly to the decrease of the current account deficit from 15 percent in 2016 to 7 percent in 2017, allowing in particular stabilization of the Rwandan franc.85 This dynamic should be accentuated in the years to come.86 After weakening growth in 2016 and 2017 to 6 percent, the World Bank forecasts growth of 7.2 percent in 2018, 7.5 percent in 2019, and 7.8 percent in 2020.87 Over the past two decades, the government’s economic policy has proven dynamic and has not hesitated to make the necessary adjustments when necessary. While continuing to make daring wagers, Rwanda responds more and more elaborately to the challenges it faces. The Rwandan economy has diversified and has become resilient yet remains subject to significant challenges, such as employment and the trade deficit. The recent economic rebound after the push investment of 2013–2015 also highlights the weakness of the private sector’s response to improving the business environment, which is leading to a recovery in growth while having the local private sector somehow subdued.88 Going forward, the World Bank recommends the concentration of public efforts on three sectors in order to increase and sustain growth but also


Rise of a New State

to better respond to the fast-growing demand for employment. First, given that in the next five to ten years a large part of the population will still be working in agriculture, a continuation of the rise in incomes from agriculture is essential. Along these lines, the rise in agricultural productivity is important but also the development of agro-business and agro-industry capable of providing employment to a large number of unskilled workers. Recent developments could accelerate the creation of enterprises and jobs. Up until now, the country has made significant progress in improving the business climate while retaining high cost of conducting business. This situation is slowly changing with the significant reduction of the price of electricity and the cost of nontariff barriers mentioned earlier. On the finance side, according to the International Monetary Fund, the increase of the national debt recorded between 2013 and 2016 following heavy investments in infrastructure will not noticeably hold back medium-term growth or planned public investment.89 As part of its deliberations to accelerate the process of structural transformation of the country’s economy to achieve middle-income status by 2035, the government commissioned an ambitious study to the World Bank. An in-depth review of the country’s economic sectors and governance has been carried out, drawing on scientific literature and the experience of the Asian Tigers. The study’s first results were published in November 2018, proposing adjustments and profound changes in the country’s economic policies; the top priority is rapid and massive improvement of the education system.90 This study comes after adjustments were made through the years since the publication of Vision 2020 in 2000, which included a priority rebalancing in favor of the agricultural sector and more recently of manufacturing. Despite a return to strong growth after a slight decline, a deepening of the process of transformation of the country’s economy would be timely. The country’s growth model, as it has evolved recently, based heavily on public investment in infrastructure and social services, needs to be surpassed, not only to sustain and strengthen this growth, but also to take along broader sections of society. Notes 1. “Ombudsman Should Seek Bigger Fish to Fry,” New Times, 11 April 2014. 2. Albert-Baudoin Twizeyimana, “Rwanda: Punis tous les corrompus, même haut placés,” 19 February 2009. 3. John Bruce, “Drawing a Line Under the Crisis: Reconciling Returnees’ Land Access and Security in Post-Conflict Rwanda,” Humanitarian Policy Group, June 2007, p. 32. 4. Dan Ngabonziza, “Has Kagame’s Policy Against Land Grabbers Paid Off?” Kigali Today Press, 5 February 2015.

The Road to Socioeconomic Transformation


5. Felly Kimenyi and Godfrey Ntagungira, “Use Land Properly—Kagame,” New Times, 22 January 2008. 6. Felly Kimenyi, “Kagame Warns Fake Land Beneficiaries,” New Times, 25 January 2008; Felly Kimenyi, “Share Resources, Kagame Tells Rwandans,” New Times, 24 January 2008. 7. “Kagame Returned over 30,000 Hectares to the Needy of Eastern Province to Escape Poverty,” New Times, 7 February 2015. 8. Transparency International, “Corruption Perception Index,” 2017. 9. World Values survey, “Rwanda Waves 5 and 6,” 2007 and 2012. 10. Daniel S. Ntwali, “Corruption on the Rise in Rwanda,” Africa Reporter, 22 April 2015; Republic of Rwanda, Senate, “The Senate of Rwanda Hosts a National Consultation.” 11. Discussions held at the national leadership retreat, 12–14 March 2016. 12. Daniel Sabiiti, “561 Local Leaders ‘Forced to Resign,’” Kigali Today Press, 16 January 2017. 13. “Police Explain the Dismissal of 200 Officers,” New Times, 6 February 2017. 14. For the four pillars that are the basic requirements for competitiveness in Rwanda described in the World Economic Forum’s “Global Competitiveness Report (2014–2015),” Rwanda is classed 17th for institutions, 97th for infrastructure, 92nd for macroeconomic environment, and 88th for health and primary education. 15. Discussions with Paul Collier at the École des Sciences Po, Paris, April 2014. 16. World Bank, World Development Indicators, 2016. 17. African Development Bank, “Rwanda—HIPC Approval Document—Decision Point Under the Enhanced Framework,” January 2001; International Monetary Fund, “Rwanda Country Report,” No. 06/245, July 2006. 18. Republic of Rwanda, “Vision 2020” (Kigali: Republic of Rwanda, 2000). 19. Republic of Rwanda, “Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy, 2013–2018: Shaping Our Development,” May 2013, p. 2. 20. Patricia Crisafulli and Andrea Redmond, Rwanda, Inc.: How a Devastated Nation Became an Economic Model for the Developing World (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), p. 95. 21. Republic of Rwanda, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, “Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper,” June 2002. 22. United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), “National Human Development Report, Rwanda 2007,” July 2007. 23. Ibid.; Republic of Rwanda, National Institute of Statistics Rwanda (NISR), “Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey (2006)” (Kigali: NISR, 2006). 24. The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), “Drivers of Success for CAADP: Rwanda Case Study,” November 2013, pp. 12–13. It is not specified, however, how the government will account for the 10 percent of the budget required by the CAADP to be devoted to agriculture. 25. Republic of Rwanda, “Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey (2006)”; World Bank, World Development Indicators, 2016. 26. B. K., interview with author, 14 January 2016, Kigali. 27. World Bank, World Development Indicators, 2016. 28. Republic of Rwanda, National Institute of Statistics Rwanda (NISR), “Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey (2013–2014)” (Kigali: NISR, September 2015). 29. Vincent Gahaman and Andrew Kettlewell, “Evaluating Graduation: Insights from the Vision 2020 Umurenge Programme in Rwanda,” Institute of Development Studies Bulletin 46, no. 2 (March 2015): 48–63.


Rise of a New State

30. Republic of Rwanda, Ministry of Agriculture, 2017. 31. Anna Petherick, “Rwanda’s One Cow per Poor Family Program Turns Ten Years Old,” SPLASH! milk science update, June 2016. 32. Benjamin Chemouni, “Explaining the Design of the Rwandan Decentralization: Elite Vulnerability and the Territorial Repartition of Power,” Journal of Eastern African Studies 8, no. 2 (March 2014): 246–262. 33. At a debriefing held at the end of the war, these commitments were reviewed and rigorously verified. 34. Edmund Kagire, “Questions Emerge as Mayors Hit Country with Flurry of Resignations,” East African, 16 January 2015. 35. Republic of Rwanda, Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry/Ministry of Trade and Industry, 2014; Republic of Rwanda, National Agricultural Export Board (NAEB), 2018. 36. Hannah Nielsen and Anna Spenceley, “The Success of Tourism in Rwanda— Gorillas and More,” Background Paper for the African Success Stories Study, a joint paper of the World Bank and the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), April 2010. 37. International Congress and Convention Association, “ICCA Statistics Report Country and City Rankings,” 2016, 2017. 38. Rwanda Development Board, Annual Report, 2017; International Monetary Fund, “Rwanda Country Report,” No. 18/13, January 2018. 39. Republic of Rwanda, Natural Resources Authority, “Mining in Rwanda,” 2014. 40. International Monetary Fund, “Rwanda Country Report,” No. 16/153, June 2016. 41. The cost of road transport over 17 to 20 kilometers had decreased by twothirds. H. B. Lunogelo and S. Baregu, “Agriculture and Rural Development Status in LDCs,” in Istanbul Programme of Action for the LDCs (2011–2020), Monitoring Deliverables, Tracking Progress—Analytical Perspectives, ed. LDC IV Monitor (London: Commonwealth Secretariat, 2014), pp. 167–194. 42. Republic of Rwanda, “Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) 2,” 2013. 43.“REG Intensifies Household and Industrial Electricity Connections to Improve Livelihoods and Meet National Development Targets,” New Times, 23 January 2017. 44. For the level of social impact of ICT, Rwanda comes in number 38 out of 143 countries and number 99 for economic impact. World Economic Forum, “Networked Readiness Index 2016.” 45. World Bank, “Doing Business 2018,” 2018. 46. International Monetary Fund, “Rwanda Country Report,” No. 16/153, June 2016. 47. Republic of Rwanda, Ministry of Education, “Education Sector Analysis,” Kigali, 20 November 2017. 48. World Bank, “Doing Business 2008”; World Bank, “Doing Business 2019”; World Bank, World Development Indicators, 2016. 49. EDPRS 2, p. 10. 50. World Bank, “Rwanda Economic Update: Rwanda at Work,” February 2016. 51. World Bank, “Rwanda Economic Update: Maintaining Momentum,” May 2013, p. 37. 52. Ibid., p. 45. 53. The decrease in the number of dependents and the increase of the young and energetic active population might create a demographic dividend propitious for economic growth, or if it is mismanaged, can pose a risk of social trouble. Tom Bundervoet, “Is Rwanda Set to Reap the Demographic Dividend?” World Bank blog, 14 February 2013.

The Road to Socioeconomic Transformation


54. The National Institute of Statistics Rwanda changed its method for calculating the poverty threshold for EICV 4 compared with the previous two editions. Projection using the earlier method with the new data arrived at poverty rates similar to those reported in EICV 4, even if the new method did not permit a highly rigorous comparison with the results of the two previous editions. Lee Crawford, “No, Rwanda Didn’t ‘Fiddle’ Its Poverty Stats,” Roving Bandit blog, 23 November 2015. 55. Republic of Rwanda, National Institute of Statistics Rwanda (NISR), “Statistical Yearbook,” November 2016, p. vii. 56. World Bank, “Rwanda Economic Update: Tackling Stunting,” June 2018, p. 18. 57. World Bank, “The Human Capital Project,” 2018. 58. United Nations Development Programme, 2015 Human Development Report. 59. Republic of Rwanda, “Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey (EICV 4, 2013–2014).” 60. Filip Reyntjens, “Elite Ambitions: Engineering a New Rwanda and New Rwandans,” in Lives in Motion, Indeed: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Social Change in Honour of Danielle de Lame, ed. Cristiana Panella (Tervuren, Belgium: Royal Museum for Central Africa, 2012). 61. Marijke Verpoorten, “Growth, Poverty, and Inequality in Rwanda: A Broad Perspective,” United Nations University UNU-WIDER, September 2013. 62. African Center for Economic Transformation, “2014 African Transformation Report: Growth with Depth,” 2014. 63. Haroon Bhorat, François Steenkamp, and Christopher Rooney, “Africa’s Manufacturing Malaise,” United Nations Development Programme, September 2016. 64. World Bank, World Development Indicators, 2017. 65. Ibid. 66. World Bank, “Rwanda Economic Update: Financing Development,” June 2015, p. iv. 67. African Center for Economic Transformation, “2014 African Transformation Report,” 2014, p. 4. 68. Bhorat, Steenkamp, and Rooney, “Africa’s Manufacturing Malaise.” 69. United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, “Transformative Industrial Policy for Africa,” 2016, p. 116. 70. Bhorat, Steenkamp, and Rooney, “Africa’s Manufacturing Malaise.” 71. In 2000, exports represented 6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), rose to 14 percent in 2014, and are expected to reach 20 percent in 2018, according to the International Monetary Fund. Imports represented 24 percent of GDP in 2000, rose to 31 percent in 2014, and are expected to reach 34 percent in 2018, according to the International Monetary Fund. World Bank, World Development Indicators, 2016; International Monetary Fund, “Regional Economic Outlook, Sub-Saharan Africa: Restarting the Growth Engine,” 2017. 72. Republic of Rwanda, National Institute of Statistics Rwanda (NISR), “Labor Force Survey 2017,” August 2017. The NISR recently adopted the International Labour Organization standards, which exclude persons whose income is derived from subsistence agriculture from the definition of “active population.” 73. World Bank, “Rwanda Economic Update: Rwanda at Work,” February 2016, p. 55. According to the World Bank, projections show that the labor force will increase by 240,000 people per year between 2016 and 2025. 74. Republic of Rwanda, NISR, “Labor Force Survey 2017.” 75. World Bank, “Rwanda Economic Update: Rwanda at Work,” p. 5. 76. Republic of Rwanda, NISR, “Labor Force Survey 2017.” 77. World Bank, “Rwanda Economic Update: Rwanda at Work,” p. 39.


Rise of a New State

78. Ibid., p. 5. 79. Ibid., p. 56; National Institute of Statistics Rwanda (NISR), “Labor Force Survey 2016 (Pilot)” (Kigali: NISR, June 2016). 80. Michele Savini Zangrandi and Maria Paulina Mogollon, “Rwanda’s New Companies: An Overview of Registrations, Taxes, Employment, and Exports,” World Bank, Policy Research Working Paper No. 7527, December 2015. 81. There were no Rwandan businesses among the first partners retained under the new policy. 82. International Monetary Fund, “Rwanda Country Report,” No. 17/8, January 2017, p. 12. 83. Republic of Rwanda, Rwanda Defense Forces, March 2017. 84. International Monetary Fund, “Rwanda Country Report,” No. 18/13, January 2018, p. 15. 85. World Bank, “Rwanda Economic Update: Tackling Stunting,” p. 18. 86. International Monetary Fund, “Rwanda Country Report,” No. 18/13, January 2018. 87. World Bank, “Rwanda Economic Update: Tackling Stunting,” p. 13. 88. Ibid., p. iv. 89. International Monetary Fund, “Rwanda Country Report,” No. 17/8, January 2017, p. 11. 90. World Bank, “Future Drivers of Growth in Rwanda,” conference edition, 2019.

10 Public Support

Rwanda went through 15 years of reforms at a frantic pace in all aspects of public life. The spatial divisions and the organization of local administration have changed drastically since 2000, along with the names of towns, the status of women in society, and even the main foreign language used. The country has modernized, and it has embraced the cultural and economic region of East Africa. It is adopting new technologies and is moving away from its former rural identity and extreme poverty. In difficult cases, the effect of the modernization initiatives and the pressure exerted by public officials on local populations to accept the rapid changes produced short-term difficulties justified by the authorities as indispensable steps toward a better future. What do local populations think about the trade-offs inherent in the process of political reconstruction and the rhythm of socioeconomic progress? This chapter examines Rwandans’ evaluation of this recent history. Three aspects are used for this evaluation: the level of personal satisfaction, the relationship between citizens and the government, and relations among citizens. For this, we use the results of two World Values surveys in Rwanda: one carried out in May 2007 and the other in December 2012. We also use two qualitative surveys: one by the Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP) carried out in 2011 and the other sponsored by the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC) completed in 2013.1 In addition to the public perceptions sought out in the surveys, the rhythm of return of the 1994 refugees provided a way of estimating in a tangible manner how this sensitive population judged the general climate in the country. In June 2013, out of the 1,800,000 refugees from the July 1994 genocide, according to official UN figures, only around 100,000 still remained outside the country.2 Most of the 1994 refugees had, of course, returned before 2000, but between 2002 and 2013, more than 165,000 additional 231


Rise of a New State

refugees were voluntarily repatriated primarily from the Democratic Republic of Congo and central and southern Africa.3 Repatriation in the 2000s took place during a relatively secure context in eastern Congo and of peace in central and southern Africa. These repatriations were also the result of the government’s active efforts through “come-and-see” operations. These were organized visits to Rwanda by representatives of refugee communities who reported on prospects. During the 2000s, these returns took place right when Gacaca and campaigns against “the ideology of genocide” were in full swing, indicating perhaps that refugees contemplating a return placed into perspective the tension resulting from these initiatives in relation to the country’s general governance. Taking into account this evolution, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees initiated in October 2009 the process that led to the declaration of the cessation clause of the status of refugees for Rwandans who had fled the country between 1959 and 1998 to take effect definitively on 31 December 2017.4 Perception of the Socioeconomic Situation

Between 2007 and 2012, there was tangible improvement in the level of satisfaction concerning the personal situation of respondents to the World Values survey plus their perception of the meritocratic character of society. There was also an increase in the desire for more equality (see Table 10.1). These results are corroborated both by the IRDP (2011) qualitative surveys and by that of the NURC (2013).5 In 2011, participants recognized an improvement in their living standards, primarily because of the development of infrastructure and efforts made in rural development. They stressed the development of roads, which had greatly facilitated their lives, as well as progress in access to electricity and, to a lesser extent, to water. On the issue of local development and combating poverty, participants identified the following programs as the most useful: Girinka, programs linked to the Vision 2020 Umurenge Program (VUP), health mutual funds, land consolidation for more specialized crops, and the encouragement to create cooperatives. “For

Table 10.1 Levels of Personal Satisfaction (in percent) Questions

Satisfied with life Satisfied with present household income Feeling happy Would like greater income equality Hard work produces success, not fate or connections

Sources: World Values Survey, Waves 5 and 6, Rwanda.

2007 40 32 85 40 42

2012 77 65 91 68 75

Public Support


most of the persons consulted, there is a feeling of satisfaction and an optimism concerning development initiatives adopted by the government.”6 Participants in the IRDP study found the development process to be fair. Referring to the situation that existed before 1994, they stressed education giving the same chance to everyone. Along the same lines, they emphasized the fact that infrastructure was developed in all parts of the country in the same way and that everyone received public services on equal terms.7 As for the evolution of individual and family living standards, the problem most clearly raised was the perception of growing inequality: “Progress has been made, and it’s a good thing that there are programs to promote the welfare of Rwandans, but one problem remains. It’s true that those who benefit from government programs are progressing, but these programs do not reach everyone in the same way and the wealthy become more and more wealthy.”8 It should be noted that the inequality mentioned here was above all an inequality of proximity. More generally, even if the statistics did not corroborate this increase of inequality, its perception was real. Marijke Verpoorten, using the results of his own research, arrives at the same conclusion of a lag between objective data concerning the evolution of inequality and its perception by the poorest. The researcher explains it by the existence of relative winners and losers among the very poor, who advanced but not enough to rise to the next poverty category.9 Participants in the NURC survey identified three areas that in their eyes were subjects for concern. The first was the quality of higher education, which produced graduates that were unfit and therefore had little likelihood of becoming successful entrepreneurs. The second was the increase of unemployment of university graduates and third the expropriations in urban areas where remuneration was judged insufficient and did not always meet the requirements of public usefulness but served private interests instead.10 Perception of Relations Between Citizens and Government

Table 10.2 shows a high level of trust in institutions but a decrease over the five years that separate the two World Values surveys, especially toward the police and the judicial system. The importance of democracy, which had been high, decreased along with its indispensable nature. Table 10.3 shows what respondents considered should be the country’s priority over the next ten years. While in 2007 security was the most important consideration, five years later economic growth received the most important consideration. More decisionmaking power for local populations was in third position and was decreasing. Making towns more attractive, which had recently been an important element in the country’s development, was in last position and sharply decreasing.


Rise of a New State

Table 10.2 Perceptions of Institutions (in percent) Questions

Trust in the government Trust in the army Trust in justice Trust in the police Democracy is important (absolutely important)

Sources: World Values Survey, Waves 5 and 6, Rwanda.

2007 — — 76 83 94 (48)

2012 64 65 61 63 88 (19)

Table 10.3 Preference for Rwanda’s Priorities of the Next Ten Years (in percent) Preference

A high level of economic growth A strong army More decisionmaking power for the public More attractive towns and rural areas

Sources: World Values Survey, Waves 5 and 6, Rwanda.

2007 26 44 18 11

2012 69 15 12 4

Responses to the surveys reflected in the two tables showed a high level of trust toward government institutions in citizens’ attitudes, but it was no longer unanimous. Furthermore, they expressed strong backing of the values and priorities that were behind the reconstruction process, notably by prioritizing economic development over more decisionmaking power for the population. In August 2011, the IRDP carried out an extensive qualitative study among varied groups and individuals throughout the country and among the diaspora on what was at stake in consolidating peace in Rwanda. Abroad, participants highlighted the dichotomist view international opinion had of the country, presented at the same time as a brilliant example of reconstruction and an authoritarian state. Reacting to this perception, the participants explained that the specific characteristics of Rwanda must be placed in the country’s postgenocide context. They asserted that in such a context, “the establishment of a democratic system has to be weighed out against the need for security for all, minimal conditions in terms of interpersonal relations, and the satisfaction of citizens’ basic needs.”11 Participants also stressed the role of good governance as a pillar of peace. They cited facts that showed that “Rwanda is on the road to good governance,” such as “the restoration of security, the efforts to implement a decentralization policy, a clear willingness to combat corruption, improved services provided to citizens, an effort in sharing power, and efficient strategies for promoting national reconciliation.”12

Public Support


Some participants mentioned, however, the obstacles to achieving good governance, such as “a culture of self-censorship that seems to be structural and that has lasted for generations,” especially when it was a question of a policy, a program, or a legislative bill directly touching citizens’ interests. They cited the government’s natural tendency to want control, which might have been justified in the immediate postgenocide period but was less so at the time of the survey, and a line too stretched between the elected and the elector owing primarily to the system of legislative elections with proportional voting by nationwide list; as a result the elected would be more indebted to their parties than to the general public. Some referred to the phenomenon of politicians who left the country and, once abroad, joined the opposition. The study did not show the proportion of respondents from the diaspora and residents making these claims. In the IRDP survey the participants expressed backing for the government’s basic policies and for its main achievements, but some also expressed a willingness to be flexible with regard to certain aspects of public life, namely a greater say on policies that directly affect local populations, especially those requiring their financial contributions or in the form of work through the Umuganda, monthly government-mandated community service. Perceptions of Relations Among Citizens

Perceptions of the nature of relations among citizens, including the level of social cohesion presented later, were strongly influenced by the Gacaca tribunals that had just finished their work. Three years after the official end of the Gacaca phase, there was a general feeling that a milestone had been reached that decreased the weight of the memory of the genocide.13 Nonetheless, more directly, the material consequences of the genocide, brought to light by the Gacaca trials, marked deep frustrations in rural Rwanda. Many survivors of the genocide lost their possessions, which were looted or destroyed—as well as their extended family networks of support—and sank into poverty from which they were unable to recover, demanding compensation for their goods. Often those looters did not have the means to reimburse the survivors. Forcing those who did have the means to do so created strong feelings that were transmitted even to the following generation of their children.14 At the community and individual levels, the devious and insincere way in which a number of the guilty confessed and asked to be pardoned during their trials in order to benefit from a reduced sentence left many survivors dissatisfied. Nevertheless, the Gacaca process made it possible “to break the ice” in the communities, facilitating the serious discussion of what happened during the genocide. For survivors, the most tangible benefit of the Gacaca was that many among them were finally able to find the remains of the bodies of their


Rise of a New State

parents, bury them with dignity, and mourn. Gacaca offered public recognition of the pain of the survivors who were the most isolated. The process of confession and asking to be pardoned by the victims, even if imperfect, created the basis on which more peaceful social interaction finally became possible, according to one survivor of the genocide. Before Gacaca, there was hardly any confidence. In fact there wasn’t any at all. Repatriated refugees did not want to tell the truth about how people had been killed, those who killed them, and where the bodies were. Since Gacaca, I feel that people grew closer together as the truth gradually came out. Even if some hid the truth, those who were in prison told the truth. It was the prisoners who told the truth about how people had been killed. That’s how we made progress: thanks to the prisoners who confessed after they understood that they should tell the truth. We learned, understood and finally accepted.15

The World Values surveys carried out at midpoint and at the end of the Gacaca activities suggested a reinforcement of social cohesion, primarily through the responses to the question “Can you trust most people?” In the 2007 survey, Rwandans expressed one of the lowest levels of social confidence in the world with only 5 percent of positive responses.16 In 2012, Rwanda considerably improved its score, with a level of trust in others of 17 percent, one of the highest in sub-Saharan Africa.17 Three years after the end of the bulk of the Gacaca trials, general improvement in social relations, identified at the end of 2012 by the second of the two World Values surveys, seemed to be the fruit of rapid change from difficulties in coexisting shown by the reconciliation barometer of the NURC in 2010. This survey recorded very high levels of confidence in the main government institutions. For questions dealing with reconciliation and social cohesion, the responses of the 2010 survey were more mixed. One response stood out that concerned the possibility of a repetition of the genocide. To the question of whether people thought that “if they had the opportunity certain Rwandans would try to commit genocide again,” 40 percent of the persons questioned in the 2010 reconciliation barometer answered in the affirmative. The 18- to 34-year-olds were those who thought so the most (43 percent). The older respondents were less likely to think so. Those older than 65 years of age believed so, nonetheless, at 29 percent. The responses to this question often seemed to indicate that the respondents had an understanding of the notion of genocide more as bloody political violence rather than as genocide per se.18 Three years later, in order to better understand some of the responses of the 2010 reconciliation barometer and specifically those concerning the possible willingness of some Rwandans to repeat the genocide, the NURC commissioned a qualitative study. It was carried out among focus groups and conducted via individual interviews. In that survey, all participants

Public Support


agreed on the fact that the ideology of genocide was still present in Rwandan society. Those who defended the idea that a repetition of the genocide was impossible cited “the government of national unity’s strong determination to prevent this repetition through education and repression.” They also noted the devastating consequences that had affected both the perpetrators and the survivors of the genocide. One participant explained, “The fact that those who committed the genocide gained nothing other than shame, failure, and poverty is an important lesson that will help Rwandans prevent genocide and combat all who try to repeat it.”19 Those who thought that a repetition of the genocide was still possible justified their response by evoking a long history of ideology of genocide deeply anchored in the minds of some people; the consequences and the deep and still open wounds left by the genocide; some people, including perpetrators of the genocide, who continued to actively spread the ideology of genocide; the fact that survivors continued to be persecuted and even killed in certain places; the fear that a future sectarian or weak government might tolerate the ideology of genocide and its acts; and finally, the persistence of poverty and inequality in Rwanda. In order to remedy this possibility, participants highlighted the prevention of the violent political changes in power that marked the country’s history and monopolization of power. Many participants in the study insisted on the issue of poverty, and of poverty in relation to compensation, as a possible element that might set off a possible repetition of the genocide. The question of the restitution of property also continues to create problems to the point of being a possible trigger of another genocide. Sometimes it happens that a person is unjustly forced to compensate or be compensated for possessions destroyed during the genocide. That creates divisions. . . . When people don’t live decently, in poverty, it’s easy for them to be caught up in evil activities . . . ; poverty leads people to accuse each other, to look for scapegoats. Because of the wounds people have, linked to poverty, repetition of the genocide is possible.20

When compensations are paid, sometimes the person who owes “each time sees the other person as the cause of their misfortune, instead of seeing the harm they caused.” For other participants, communities had regained confidence. We’ve taken a big step forward. People are living together harmoniously; they gather to work together, there’s the work in the fields. . . . They help each other and there is no suspicion between them. . . . Rwandans trust each other. There is a willingness to pardon on both sides. Now they intermarry, and people live in harmony without suspicion.21

Others, however, put social harmony into perspective.


Rise of a New State Maybe children who will be born in the future will have trust. People are now living together because of the government, but it’s still too early to speak of trust between people; the consequences of the past are still too heavy; trust can’t just be created like that; we’ll have to wait. The fact that people live side by side or run into each other at the market and at social events does not mean that trust exists.22

The idea that the prevailing social peace was the result of government intervention was often mentioned. These divergences in the responses doubtlessly reflected the diversity of experiences. But it was not so much the reality of social harmony that was the source of discussion, but rather its depth, heavily dependent on government action. Some participants criticized the fact that the process of reestablishing social confidence had not benefited from the sincere expression of the “truth, remorse, excuses, and pleading for pardon by the culprits.” Going further, participants explained that the prospects of deep reconciliation between the direct protagonists in the genocide were, given the circumstances, necessarily limited. Many also stressed that because of the government’s efforts at education, the ethnic antagonism seemed to be fading away among youths. The difference of this evolution between towns, especially Kigali and rural areas, must nonetheless be stressed. In Kigali, more impersonal and more diverse, the face-to-face interactions between survivors and participants in the genocide were less direct and intense. Young generations more easily left behind ethnic antagonism.23 In rural areas, the close proximity to one another and conflicting material claims linked to the genocide made things more difficult.24 Many participants appeared to be satisfied with the rhythm of rapprochement between communities, despite the limitations. They explained those limitations by evoking the depth of the wounds left by the genocide but also by the need to let time heal.25 Notes

1. World Values survey, Wave 5 (2007) and Wave 6 (2012), Rwanda; Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP), “Les Enjeux de la paix, vus par les rwandais, 17 ans après le genocide,” August 2011; Republic of Rwanda, National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC), “Assessment of the 2010 Rwanda Reconciliation Barometer’s Findings,” July 2013. 2. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Rwanda Country Office, written communication, 18 October 2013. 3. Ibid. 4. Reliefweb, “Rwanda Ready to Receive All Returning Refugees as Cessation Clause Comes into Effect,” 3 July 2013, -ready-receive-all-returning-refugees-cessation-clause-comes-effect/. 5. IRDP, “Les Enjeux de la paix”; Republic of Rwanda, NURC, “Assessment of the 2010 Rwanda Reconciliation Barometer’s Findings.” 6. IRDP, “Les Enjeux de la paix,” p. 39.

Public Support


7. This response seems to refer specifically to regionalistic dynamics as they existed under preceding regimes. 8. Republic of Rwanda, NURC, “Assessment of the 2010 Rwanda Reconciliation Barometer’s Findings,” p. 105. 9. Marijke Verpoorten, “Growth, Poverty, and Inequality in Rwanda: A Broad Perspective,” United Nations University UNU-WIDER, September 2013. 10. Republic of Rwanda, NURC, “Assessment of the 2010 Rwanda Reconciliation Barometer’s Findings.” 11. IRDP, “Les Enjeux de la paix,” p. 89. 12. Ibid. 13. E. N., interview with author, 24 September 2015, Kigali; A. M., interview with author, 24 September 2015, Kigali. 14. Jean Hatzfeld, Un papa de sang (Paris: Gallimard, 2015). 15. Republic of Rwanda, NURC, “Assessment of the 2010 Rwanda Reconciliation Barometer’s Findings,” p. 83. 16. World Values survey, Wave 5, Rwanda. A worldwide index of the level of mutual confidence based on the results of the World Values surveys before 2011 placed Rwanda in next to last place out of a sample of 58 countries. Esteban OrtizOspina and Max Roser, “Trust,” 2015, -and-society/trust/. 17. World Values survey, Wave 6, Rwanda. 18. Republic of Rwanda, NURC, “Assessment of the 2010 Rwanda Reconciliation Barometer’s Findings,” p. 52. 19. Ibid., p. 72. 20. Ibid., p. 75. 21. Ibid., p. 78. 22. Ibid., p. 80. 23. E. M. interview, 24 September 2015; A. M. interview, 24 September 2015. 24. Hatzfeld, Un papa de sang. 25. Republic of Rwanda, NURC, “Assessment of the 2010 Rwanda Reconciliation Barometer’s Findings.”

PART 4 Conclusion

11 Explaining the Trajectory

Since 2000, the changes that Rwanda has undergone have been spectacular and unexpected, given the seriousness of the challenges it faced just after the genocide. This concluding chapter seeks to analytically provide a sense of the postgenocide trajectory and to point out the main underlying dynamics that determined it. The Underlying Dynamics of the Reconstruction Process The Origins of the RPF’s Transformative Ambitions

Contrary to widespread opinion, the desire to transform Rwanda that animated the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), the main actor behind the reconstruction, did not primarily originate from the devastating effects of civil war and genocide. A certain number of historical elements help explain the emergence of this desire to transform society. The first is the systemic vulnerability felt by Rwandan refugee communities regarding their country of origin.1 This feeling preceded the formation of the RPF and went beyond the political sphere itself. It explains the strength of the support of the refugee communities for the proposed armed return to Rwanda under the RPF as well as the sacrifices that these communities agreed to make for its success. This feeling of systemic vulnerability grew out of the violent conditions under which refugees left Rwanda, made dramatic by the 1963 massacres; it also stemmed from the exclusion of Tutsis by the Rwandan government from the legitimate national community inside and outside Rwanda that followed. This sentiment of vulnerability vis-à-vis Rwanda was aggravated by the violence and hostility that festered in regional countries harboring refugees in the 1980s. Following the spirit of the RPF founders, a permanent return to 243



Rwanda with secure conditions, an idea eventually accepted by a great number of refugees, was inconceivable without the transformation of the political identity of the state and of society. The outbreak of the genocide in April 1994 also revived and intensified the feeling of systemic vulnerability of the RPF members and leaders and reinforced their determination to pursue a thorough transformation of the country. A second element of nationalism may explain the RPF’s ambitions to transform Rwanda—a product of the historical memory “of a former grand Rwanda” and the ideal of the permanence of this grandeur, kept alive by the refugees who were the most committed to the cause of the return. This historical memory nurtured the refugees’ quest for individual and collective self-worth, given the grim realities of exile and struggle to keep alive a Rwandan cultural identity. The return and subsequent eventual transformation of Rwanda came to be perceived as the condition for the reappropriation of this collective self-worth. During his second mandate, President Paul Kagame began to theorize about this quest for collective self-worth and popularize it above all among the youth with the notion of agaciro (dignity). This is about Agaciro, self-worth. And for us Rwandans we understand that, from our history, from our tragedy of twenty years ago, and the history of that. We are able to understand the full meaning of self-worth; because, for so long, we never had that. Deprived of a sense of self-worth, taught us and gave us the full meaning of it. That’s why whatever we do; we have at the back of our mind this sense of self-worth: it’s dignity, it’s Agaciro.2

This quest for collective self-worth helped RPF members prove their resilience during the darkest days on the path of return. Thus, some observers were struck by their zeal to rebuild just after the genocide.3 Without holding a grudge against the West in general, the anticolonialism and the pan-Africanism inherent to this historic memory explain the desire of the RPF leaders to follow their own path in the reconstruction of their country. This memory also underscores the sensibility of some RPF leaders regarding the place of Rwanda and Africa in the world and the need to lift them from underdevelopment and dependency. This transformative ambition also had a generational dimension; it represented a late resurgence of the transformative mind that captivated many African elites in the aftermath of independence. It was also initially served by RPF’s political optimism, stemming from a materialism-determinism ideology, according to which, if we change the social structures—and the economic conditions in particular—we could also change people and their institutions. The RPF’s ambitions to transform the country were actualized and amplified by President Kagame’s leadership, which has been the keystone of the reconstruction process. At critical moments of the movement and the country’s evolution, he insisted on them, reformulated them, and moved them further forward.

Explaining the Trajectory


The Autonomy of the Postgenocide Reconstruction Project

In the summer of 1994, the RPF faced challenges of an unusual magnitude and isolation. The constraints to which it was subjected, when studied through its ideological prism, led it to the path of autonomous reconstruction.4 The margins of action of this autonomy were regularly disputed with the international community as an important provider of international legitimacy, funds, and technical means. That said, the RPF opposed the idea of a politically liberal reconstruction advocated by the international community, especially when one of its early demands was to reach agreement with the genocidal forces. This choice of independence limited the influence of the international community. The violent circumstances that put a stop to the genocide also placed the RPF in long-term opposition to the most militant sections of this community.5 The autonomous character of the reconstruction process was not absolutist, however, owing to the importance of international aid from which the country benefited in terms of financial contributions and technical assistance. Nonetheless, ending the conflict, and the reconstruction process that followed, were achieved primarily on the RPF’s terms.6 A Unifying Military Victory

In April–July 1994, the radical nature of the genocide itself, and the refusal of the interim government to stop the massacres in order to hold talks with the RPF, made a negotiated end to the conflict extremely difficult. The RPF’s decisive military victory in July 1994 allowed it to consolidate the control that it exerted over the country and to define coherently the contours of the postconflict future.7 Coherence was threatened by internal dissensions early in the process of reconstruction that ultimately had a cathartic effect on the movement. In 1992, 1993, and the summer of 1994, the Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) succeeded in gaining the upper hand over the former Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR) in very unfavorable circumstances. This victory was made possible by the conviction in a just cause not only by the fighters but also by the communities that supported them all over the world. However, the opening toward its adversary also played a very important role in the confrontation’s final outcome. The RPF consolidated its victory by convincing a significant portion of its former enemies and the general public, which supported them, to change sides. Thus, the political dimension of the war effort played a crucial role in the implementation of the project of national integration of the RPF, a dynamic explained well by Jeremy Weinstein: The war’s logistic requirements—to recruit and retain individual participants over time—requires leaders to develop a mobilization strategy sufficient to fill its ranks. Construction of national identities, or at least


Conclusion supra-ethnic identities, is often the focus of this effort because the leaders of small ethnic groups attempt to build a base that allows them to compete for power.8

The Creation of a Stable, Development-Oriented Political Order

The reunification of the country with the return of old and new refugees, the stability, and the ability to carry out reforms and ambitious projects requiring the participation of the population largely mark the support of the latter in the reconstruction process as proposed by the RPF and its allies. This support was the result of a difficult evolution and was made possible because of, and despite, the suppression of competing political proposals. These proposals were in turn of a genocidal nature, sectarian with the Republican Democratic Movement (MDR), or neopatrimonial backed by a section of the political and military leadership in the late 1990s. The RPF managed to impose its ideas in defense of the general interest through the promotion of an inclusive national identity, improvement of people’s living conditions, and a rather fair form of governance. In Rwanda, as in most other developing countries, where the state is the main channel of access to resources, promoting a national identity and social equity does not mean the absence of circles with preferential access to state power and its resources. But we were witnessing a limitation of these privileges and a certain fluidity in the composition of these circles, which safeguarded the priority given to the development of the country.9 These rare features in Africa were the result of the resolution of the problems of collective action by which institutions “enforce rules to restrict free-riding and motivate actors to act in their collective interests.”10 This dynamic of sometimes enforced cooperation that settled in after the adoption of the 2003 constitution was subject to many pressures. There is one constant, from Western opinion makers—less from their states— pushing Rwanda to adopt the paths of political liberalism and confrontational politics. Finally, there are recurrent ones exercised by Rwandan individuals or groups mostly based outside the country. Many Rwandans have become suspicious of sectarian or neopatrimonial behaviors and fear their disruptive potential. However, even weakened, the crossed axes of sectarianism and neopatrimonialism as political proposals continue to exert an attraction on certain individuals or groups by presenting themselves often as a proposal for political liberalization. In the opinion of many Rwandans, the governance that is currently exercised is maintained thanks to the leadership of President Kagame, casting a shadow over the solidity of the institutions of the country. In this, they join Mushtaq Khan when he defends the primacy of the politics on institutions to explain the successful governance of developmental states.11

Explaining the Trajectory

Toward a Continuation of the Process of Transformation?


Despite the pressures, indications suggest that for the time being large parts of the population and of the elites want to maintain the country’s current political settlement favoring the pursuit of consensus over political confrontation. In different areas, the impression remains that the country has not yet advanced enough in its transformation and that the country still needs to stabilize further. The question then is what should be the way forward? Favor the continuity of the existing political trajectory, or opt for change, and in that case, which one? Rwandans had the opportunity to express themselves on the issue in the December 2015 referendum during which 98.3 percent voted in favor of the constitutional amendment lifting the limitation on the number of mandates that President Kagame would be allowed to serve. This choice of continuity was expressed in a context of strong outside opposition, essentially from Western countries. Many critics would like to see Rwanda abandon its restrictions on freedom of expression and association along with the practices that form its “consensual democracy” and adopt more competitive political approaches. Nonetheless, despite the limits of the reconstruction process and its constraints, in general, Rwandans, educated by their personal history, seem relatively satisfied and often proud of the unexpected progress that their country has made in the past 20 years. Many of those who reached adulthood in 1990 establish a causal connection in effect between system constraints and these advances. Two types of reasoning can explain this divergence in perception between liberal critics of the regime and that of many Rwandan citizens. The first goes back to the beginning of the global campaign to spread democracy—around the end of the 1980s. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and in light of rapid progress in establishing democracy, even in countries deemed less ready for its adoption, a reversal of perspective on the question of democratization took place. At the heart of internationalist liberal ideology, which came to be dominant, was the idea that the power of attraction and salvation of liberal democracy, carried by the wind of history, made obsolete the argument that there are preconditions for the adoption of liberal democracy.12 The historical antecedents of a country, its level of political and social cohesion, its economic development, the solidity of its institutions—none of these seemed important in determining the prospects of successful democratization. On the opposing side, experts using World Values survey data explain that postmodern industrial societies have arrived at a level of prosperity and security where values of self-expression have become dominant and promote democracy as an end in itself. According to these researchers, although the desire for free choice and autonomy is universal, this is not the main priority when people grow up feeling that their physical survival is not assured. In this case, the desire for physical and economic security takes precedence over that of democracy.13



From this point of view, postgenocide Rwanda is certainly an extreme case. Thus, in light of their recent tragic history, it is difficult for Rwandans to escape the context of their life experience. The more elderly still recall the killings of the 1959 revolution; others remember the chaos, the violence, and the rise of intolerance during the period of democratization of early 1990; and, of course, the genocide of 1994. Younger Rwandans lacking vivid points of comparison lived in Rwanda and in refugee camps, suffering the postgenocide pain. For many who are subjected to contradictory arguments as to the reality of the advancement their country, the evolution of the countries in the subregion also served to put things in perspective. Regional information broadcasts in Kinyarwanda by Voice of America and even the BBC broadcast from neighboring countries, social networks, the Internet, along with cross-border travel, especially local, allowed many Rwandans to follow the evolution of the subregion. The stagnation in deep poverty and then the drop into insecurity and political instability of Burundi plays an especially edifying role. Until recently, this country was presented as the antimodel of Rwanda, which had managed a democratic and postethnic way out of crisis. The chronic chaotic disorders of the Democratic Republic of Congo, despite a massive commitment of the international community, are other benchmarks. The corrosive effects of corruption, state laissez-faire policies, and recurrent election-related political tension in Uganda and Kenya also allow us to better situate Rwanda’s evolution. Even for those skeptical of the RPF’s narrative of the reconstruction process or the frequent publication of flattering international rankings for Rwanda, viewing the national trajectory in the context of the subregional, even continental, evolution seems to surreptitiously validate this narrative. The normalization of the country’s situation, the emergence of large new age groups who were not the direct protagonists of the events that have enmeshed the history of the country since 1990, and the appearance of new longer-term challenges should draw a political reality significantly different from the one prevailing today. If the idea of the primacy of politics on institutions in the evolution of the country is verified, then the future of the country’s transformation process is open, depending on the political balance of power of the moment. The question that arises then, when faced with a social and political reality markedly different from that which had given the RPF its reforming spirit, is, What will be the sources of inspiration of the new generations to continue the process of transformation of the country? One could respond by evoking the fact that the emerging generations have long been exposed to the country’s system of developmental governance and thus might have internalized it. In this connection, one can mention the intensification of Itorero civic education programs, which are supposed to inculcate in youth patriotic values inspired by ancient Rwanda. One could also point to a gradual change of custody that is taking place, with many positions of responsibility in the state already occupied by young people. The change of guard in

Explaining the Trajectory


the army, with the withdrawal since 2014 of almost all of those who served as the senior officers in the RPA and the FAR, would go in this direction.14 A rare comparative study involving five mostly Asian developmental states and four economically dynamic African countries—which ultimately failed in their transformations—on the relationship between continued long-run growth and political succession provides interesting insights. The study seeks to understand why some countries manage to maintain longterm strong economic growth, established at 7 percent, after a political succession, and thus to deepen their transformation process.15 Three conditions seem to favor successful successions: first, a policy package that is broadly promarket and pro–foreign investment but with elements of state industry and industrial policy; second, an intermediate level of “systemic vulnerability”; and third, a policy-making process that is embedded in a dominant party with a tradition of consensual decisionmaking, or more rarely a strong bureaucracy insulated from changes in political leadership. Democratic institutions did not feature as playing a role in sustaining high growth after political succession. The study also points to other contributing factors, such as having a leader of less than 75 years at the time of succession, a homogeneous ethnic structure, a state with roots in an identifiable precolonial political formation, and a favorable external economic environment. A quarter of a century after the beginning of the postgenocide reconstruction process, undeniably Rwanda seems to be bringing together many of these conditions, even though caution is needed with regard to the level of interethnic political harmony. Despite the current political configuration of the country, which would favor a continuation of the transformation process, the question that needs to be asked is whether this configuration centered around a dominant party, arguably with a unifying ambition, will resist the distributive tensions that, at the moment of the succession, had shattered the dominant parties of the two previous regimes. Without foreshadowing the future or minimizing the new challenges and the more permanent ones—such as those related to the distributive tensions or to the historically thorny question of political competition—the current trajectory of Rwandan society, if it sustains its radical pragmatism and autocorrective qualities, can give us hope that the process of transformation of the country might survive the leadership that initiated it. Notes

1. This notion was used above all to explain the emergence of developmental states in East Asia. In this context, the feeling of systemic vulnerability stems from an external threat to regime survival and/or a political conflict imposing the need to create broad coalitions, from a risk of local rebellions capable of destroying the state in the absence of economic benefits for the lower classes, plus a severe lack of resources. Richard F. Doner, Bryan K. Ritchie, and Dan Slater, “Systemic Vulnerability and the Origins of Developmental States: Northeast and Southeast Asia in Comparative Perspective,” International Organization 59 (Spring 2005): 327–361.



2. “Address by President Kagame on Rwanda Day,” Atlanta, Georgia, 20 September 2014. 3. José Kagabo, “Après le génocide: notes de voyage,” Les Temps Modernes 583 (1995). 4. Jeremy M. Weinstein, “Autonomous Recovery and International Intervention in Comparative Perspective,” Center for Global Development, Working Paper no. 57, Washington, DC, April 2005. 5. David Chandler, Empire in Denial: The Politics of State-Building (London: Pluto, 2006). 6. Danielle Beswick, “The Return of Omnibalancing? A Multi-Level Analysis of Strategies for Securing Agency in Postgenocide Rwanda,” Draft Paper. 7. Jeremy M. Weinstein, “Autonomous Recovery and International Intervention,” pp. 12–13. Decisive military victories, especially by rebel groups, are by far most capable of establishing a lasting peace in contrast to processes negotiated or imposed from abroad. Roy Licklider, “The Consequences of Negotiated Settlements in Civil Wars, 1945–1993,” American Political Science Review 89, no. 3 (September 1995): 681–690; Monica Duffy Toft, “Peace Through Victory: The Durable Settlement of Civil Wars,” unpublished manuscript, Harvard University, 2003; Monica Duffy Toft, Securing the Peace: The Durable Settlement of Civil Wars (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2009). 8. Jeremy M. Weinstein gives the following explanation for this reasoning. “The war’s logistic requirements—to recruit and retain individual participants over time— requires leaders to develop a mobilization strategy sufficient to fill its ranks. Construction of national identities, or at least supra-ethnic identities, is often the focus of this effort because the leaders of small ethnic groups attempt to build a base that allows them to compete for power.” Weinstein, “Autonomous Recovery and International Intervention,” p. 13. 9. David Booth and Fred Golooba-Mutebi, “Developmental Patrimonialism? The Case of Rwanda,” Africa Power and Politics Working Paper, Overseas Development Institute, March 2011; Pritish Behuria and Tom Goodfellow, “The Political Settlement and ‘Deals Environment,’” quoted in “Rwanda: Unpacking Two Decades of Economic Growth,” Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre (ESID), Working Paper no. 57, April 2016. 10. For an analysis of the notion of “collective action” applied to Rwanda, see David Booth, “Development as a Collective Action Problem: Addressing the Real Challenges of African Governance,” Synthesis Report of the Africa Power and Politics Programme (London: Overseas Development Institute, October 2012). 11. Mushtaq H. Khan, “Political Settlements and the Governance of GrowthEnhancing Institutions,” Research Paper Series on Governance for Growth, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 2010, .uk/9968/1/Political_Settlements_internet.pdf. 12. David Chandler, “Rhetoric Without Responsibility: The Attraction of ‘Ethical’ Foreign Policy,” British Journal of Politics and International Relations 5, no. 3 (August 2003): 295–297; Thomas Carothers, “The End of the Transition Paradigm,” Journal of Democracy 13, no. 1 (2002): 5–21. 13. Ronald Inglehart and Christian Welzel, “Changing Mass Priorities: The Link Between Modernization and Democracy,” Perspectives on Politics 8, no. 2 (2010): 551–567. 14. “Retiring Military Officers Honoured,” East African, 18 July 2014; Athan Tashobya, “RDF Retires over 800 Officers,” New Times, 7 July 2018; Jean de la Croix Tabaro, “RPF Congress Elects New Executive Committee,” Kigali Today Press, 16 December 2017. 15. Tim Kelsall, “Economic Growth and Political Succession: A Study of Two Regions,” Developmental Regimes in Africa Project, Working Paper, Overseas Development Institute, January 2013.



Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program Coalition for the Defense of the Republic Central Public Investment and External Finance Bureau Interministerial Committee for Coordination Crop Intensification Program Conseil National de Libération Corruption Perceptions Index District Administration Security Support Organ Domestic Market Recapturing Strategy Democratic Party (Uganda) East African Community Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy Integrated Household Living Conditions Survey Rwandan Armed Forces Genocide Survivors’ Assistance Fund Front pour la Liberation Nationale gross domestic product Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda (UN) information and communication technology International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda internally displaced person International Monetary Fund Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace Kigali Convention Center local defense unit Republican Democratic Movement Popular Movement for the Revolution (Zaire) National Revolutionary Movement for Development 251




National Executive Committee nongovernmental organization National Information Communication Infrastructure Plan National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda National Resistance Army National Resistance Movement National Unity and Reconciliation Commission National Union of Students of Uganda Organization of African Unity Party of the Hutu Emancipation Movement Christian Democratic Party Liberal Party Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper Social Democratic Party Rwandan Democratic Rally Rwandese Alliance for National Unity Rwanda Development Board Rwandan Defense Force Rwandan Patriotic Army Rwandan Patriotic Front Rwanda Public Procurement Authority Tanganyika African National Union United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda Rwandese National Union United Nations Development Programme United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees United Nations Rwanda Emergency Office Uganda People’s Congress Vision 2020 Umurenge Program World Development Indicators


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Abakada movement, 118n8 Abandonment. See International abandonment Activism: anti-refugee, 73; inyenzi armed, 20–24; refugee, 76–77 Administrative institutions, 203–205 AFDL. See Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of CongoZaire African Union: peacekeeping missions and, 182–183; on presidential election (2003), 195–196 Aga Khan, Sadruddin, 27 Agriculture: absence of modernization in, 222; Burundi refugee troubles with, 27–28; CIP boosting, 212–213; Congo/Zaire centers of, 32; income levels in relation to, 224, 226; Kagame top priority as, 212; land redistribution impacting, 206; subsistence, 59–61, 60fig, 60tab, 172, 210; Uganda refugee troubles with, 41; VUP benefiting, 213 Akazu: at heart of RPF, 142, 143; Kagame denying support of, 160; Kicukiro II meeting accusations regarding, 158–159; Le Tribun du Peuple newspaper on, 157 Albright, Madeleine, 109 Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (AFDL), 133–134

Amin, Idi, 43–44, 53n125, 91n5 Analytic eclecticism approach, 5 Antidiscrimination law (2001), 193 Arrests, mass, 32–33, 137–139 Arson campaign, 14–15, 50n18 Arusha Peace Accords: government of national unity based on, 123–124; signing of, 56; United States and, 108; violent demonstrations and, 65 Aspin, Les, 108 Asylum, 18, 142

Bagaza, President: of Burundi, 29; Buyoya overthrowing, 30 Banque Nationale du Rwanda (BNR), 163–164 Banyamulenge fighters, 133 Banyarwanda: categories of, 33; marginalization of, 32; Obote against, 43–44; policy against, 35–36; refugees impersonating as, 34–35; UPC attacking, 44–45 Beautification campaign, 211 Belgian colonial administration, 50nn18–19; agents of, 51n49; inyenzi attacks on, 20–22; race division starting with, 167–168; Tutsi exile by, 14–17 Belgium, 110–111 Bizimungu, President: declaration of, 124; Kibeho camp massacre inquiry




by, 131; RPF conflicting with, 162–163 BNR. See Banque Nationale du Rwanda Bourgmestres, 16, 64 Boutros-Ghali, Boutros: Gersony working with, 116–117; meeting with heads of state, 109–110; for proactive intervention, 108 Burundi: Bagaza of, 29; civil war in, 30–31; education system in, 26–27, 28–29; inyenzi expelled from, 73; poverty and corruption levels in, 144–145, 145tab; refugee smuggling operations with, 38; refugees in, 24–31 Burundian army: Hutus massacre (1972) by, 25, 26; refugees rounded up by, 28 Bush rebellion, 45 Buyoya, Pierre, 30

CAADP. See Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program CDR. See Coalition for the Defense of the Republic CIC. See Interministerial Committee for Coordination CIP. See Crop Intensification Program Citizens: northwest insurrection participation of, 135–136; public perception of relations among, 235–238; public perception of relations between government and, 233–235, 234tab Citizenship: Museveni on Uganda, 46; refugees and Tanzania, 39–40, 53n115 Civil war, Burundi, 30–31 Clinton administration: non-action by, 108; UNAMIR promises from, 109 CNL. See Conseil National de Libération Coalition for the Defense of the Republic (CDR), 63, 65 Coffee/tea exports: economic reform impacting, 209; income level drop from, 58; productivity improvement in, 216–217 Colonization. See Belgian colonial administration

Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), 212 Congo/Zaire: AFDL for, 133–134; agriculture centers in, 32; education system in, 34; genocidal forces from, 132; mass arrests in, 32–33; nationality law (1981), 36; Nyamwasa on war in, 173; postgenocide refugee crisis, 103; refugees in, 31–36; repatriation of refugees from, 231–232; UNHCR working with government of, 106; war in, 132–134 Conseil National de Libération (CNL), 31–32 Constitution: international community criticizing, 195; Kagame and amendment to, 247; reform, 186–188 Consultative assembly, 156–158 Control of Corruption Index, 207–208, 207tab Corruption, 175n36; by Bizimungu, 163; BNR and banking, 163–164; campaign against, 161–165; Disciplinary Committee and, 155–156; Kagame strategy for, 160; in local administration, 215; Office of the Ombudsman for fighting, 204–205; parliamentary inquiry commission on, 161–162; poverty in relation to levels of, 144–145, 145tab; regarding property ownership, 151–152; World Values surveys on, 207–208 Crop Intensification Program (CIP), 212–213 Cultural awakening, 70–74 Cultural identity: Impuruza impacting, 71; Ntezimana on, 13; refugee faith in, 48

Darfur, 182, 183 DASSO. See District Administration Security Support Organ Debt: cancellation of, 210; national, 226 Decentralization policy: goals of, 185; lack of result with, 186 Demobilization process, 180–181


Democracy: of consensus over confrontation, 187–188; dictatorship to, 3; participatory, 170–171, 174; public perception of, 233, 234tab; Urugwiro Village discussions on, 170–171 Democratic Party (Uganda) (DP), 42–43 Democratization: postgenocide Rwanda and, 247–248; violence, 63–67 Demographic growth, 59, 211–212 Des Forges, Alison: on Hutu pillaging, 62–63; on international abandonment positions, 111; on international community insensitivity, 128 Dictatorship, 3 Disciplinary Committee: corruption despite, 155–156; establishment of, 150; NEC supplement to, 161 District Administration Security Support Organ (DASSO), 184 Divisionism, 190–191 Domestic Market Recapturing Strategy (DMRS), 225 DP. See Democratic Party (Uganda) Draft bill, 162–163

East African Community (EAC): economic comparisons to, 209; integration into, 219–220 Economic crisis: in 1980’s, 57–58; subsistence agriculture living standards collapsing in, 59–61, 60fig, 60tab Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS 2): employment from, 224; Vision 2020 changing with, 210 Economic liberalization policy, 209 Economic miracle, 1 Economy: GDP indicator of, 58tab, 145tab, 172, 222–223, 229n71; growth strategies, 216–220; macroeconomic policy, 58; reform, 209–210; structural transformation of, 222–226; Urugwiro Village discussions on, 172–173. See also Socioeconomics EDPRS 2. See Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy


Education systems/schools: in Burundi, 26–27, 28–29; in Congo/Zaire, 34; ideology of genocide in, 192–193; income level increase for teachers, 209; National Examinations Council for equity in, 205; in Uganda, 42 Elections: Kagame winner of president, 163, 195, 199; of new NEC and Political Bureau, 156–157; of 1961, 20; for participatory democracy, 170–171; presidential election (2003), 194, 195–196; presidential election (2010), 194, 196–199; structures for nonpartisan, 185–186; women represented in, 185, 200n16 Electricity: focus on production of, 172; improvements in generating, 218 Eleven-point program, 155, 175n20 L’Ère de Liberté magazine, 142–143 Ethnic cleansing: by refugees, 133; of revolution (1959), 14 Ethnic sectarianism, 154–155 European Union (EU): humanitarian aid funding from, 127; on presidential election (2003), 195–196 Exile: beginning years of, 18–20; Ingabire returning from, 196–197; of Tutsis by Belgian colonial administration, 14–17 Exports: coffee/tea, 58, 209, 216–217; GDP in relation to, 222–223, 229n71; of manufactured products, 224–225; mining, 218 Extremism, 4

Famine, 59 FAR. See Rwandan Armed Forces Fertility rates, 221, 221tab Forum Amani delegation, 196 France: army of, 101–103; international abandonment by, 111–112 Frilet, Alain, 115–116

Gacaca tribunals: prisoner releases during, 189; public recognition from, 235–236; Straus on, 117n4; Urugwiro Village discussions on, 171; violence against witnesses in, 189–190, 190fig Gahima, Gérard, 164, 176n49



Gatsinzi, Marcel, 173–174 GDP. See Gross domestic product Genocidal forces: acts of revenge toward, 137; AFDL fighting, 133–134; from Congo/Zaire, 132; insurrection fighting between RPA and, 134–136; Kagame pursuing, 133; refugee camps controlled by, 105–106; RPF defeat of, 123 Genocide: ideology of, 190–191, 192–194, 237; Interahamwe spearheading, 64; international abandonment as green light for, 106–107; international assessment team on survivors of, 127–128; Kigali capture as symbolic end to, 97–98; massacre (1963) as, 22, 62; massacre (1972) as, 25, 26; political mobilization for Tutsis, 66–67; poverty as cause of, 57; public perception on possible repetition of, 236–238; trials, 138–139; Tutsis estimates of, 1, 6n3, 97–98, 117nn1–2; Tutsis victim of total, 98–99. See also Postgenocide Rwanda Gersony, Robert: Boutros-Ghali working with, 116–117; Khan, S. M., on allegations by, 113–114, 115; Petrie on allegations by, 114–115; RPF investigation by, 113; UNHCR preventing full report of, 120n67 Gicumbi District, 198 Girinka program, 214 Good governance: Khan, M. H., on, 2; public perception of, 234–235 Governance: economic reforms, 209–210; institutionalization of efficient administrative, 203–205; progress for institutions of, 207–208, 207tab; public perception of relations between citizens and, 233–235, 234tab; resurgence of political intervention in, 206–207 Government of national unity: defectors of, 141–142; FAR ex-soldiers and, 124–126; MDR denouncing, 125; for mobilization, 155–156; Nyamwasa on, 173; RPF forming, 123–124 Gross domestic product (GDP): corruption levels in relation to,

145tab; exports in relation to, 222–223, 229n71; Kaberuka on, 172; in 1980’s, 58tab Guerrilla warfare, 84–88

Habyarimana, Juvénal: Arusha Peace Accords impacting, 56; death of, 66, 88; France support of, 111; open letter to, 76; plane shot down, 57; policy regarding refugees, 73–74; reconciliation and, 91n5; refugee policy signed by, 11; repatriation and, 77; RPF compared to regime of, 144 Hilsum, Lindsey, 102 HRFOR. See UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda Human Rights Watch, 112 Humanitarian aid/workers: EU funding, 127; French army’s Zone Turquoise and, 101–103; international community focus as, 126; Kibeho camp and, 130, 131; media coverage and, 103–105, 104fig; views on Tutsi refugees, 18; World Bank and IMF promising, 58 Hutu-power coalition: confirmation of, 66; creation of, 56–57 Hutus: Burundian army massacre (1972) of, 25, 26; cohabitation instability of, 55; colonization dividing Tutsis from, 167–168; deaths, estimates of, 6n3, 117n1; Des Forges on pillaging by, 62–63; lack of regret for, 102; reconciliation sabotaged by, 30; refugees returning home, 19; RPA massacre of, 112–113, 114, 116; Tutsi extermination by, 1, 98–99; Tutsis massacre (1963) by, 22. See also Parmehutu

ICT. See Information and communication technology Ideology of genocide: laws against, 193–194; parliamentary inquiry commission on, 190–191; public perception of, 237; in schools, 192–193 IDPs. See Internally displaced persons IMF. See International Monetary Fund Imihigo program, 215


Impuruza: “The MRND Central Committee’s Position on the Issue of Rwandan Refugees” published by, 11, 72; refugees impacted by, 71; Washington, DC conference article in, 75–76 Income levels: agriculture in relation to, 224, 226; coffee/tea exports and drop in, 58; peace influenced by, 3–4; RDF increase of, 181–182; teacher increase of, 209 Information and communication technology (ICT), 218–219 Ingabire, Victoire: arrest and sentencing of, 197, 202n62; presidential election (2010) and, 196–197 Ingando camp: demobilization process and, 181; national unity and patriotism taught in, 180 Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace (IRDP), 231; study regarding good governance, 234–235; survey on socioeconomics situation, 233 Insurrection, 134–136 Integrated Operations Center, 129–130 Interahamwe: genocide spearheaded by, 64; in Kibeho camp, 129; Kibeho camp massacre role of, 131; march organized by, 65 Interministerial Committee for Coordination (CIC), 62 Internally displaced persons (IDPs): during Belgian colonial administration, 16; closing of camps for, 128–132; inyenzi and, 22; Kibeho camp for, 127; postgenocide statistics on, 101; in Zone Turquoise, 102–103 International abandonment: by Belgium, 110–111; by France, 111–112; as green light for genocide, 106–107; Kagame interview regarding, 112; by UN, 107–108; by United States, 108–110 International community: antagonism with, 126–128; constitution criticism from, 195; humanitarian aid focus of, 126; Integrated Operations Center created by, 129; international assessment team of, 127–128; Kibeho


camp massacre hurting relations with, 131–132; liberal reconstruction advocated by, 245 International Monetary Fund (IMF): humanitarian aid promised from, 58; on national debt, 226 Inyenzi, 18; armed activism, 20–24; Burundi expelling, 73; Mulelist rebellion and, 31–32; RANU learning from mistakes of, 79; recruitment in Tanzania, 37 IRDP. See Institute of Research and Dialogue for Peace Isange One-Stop Center, 184

Justice, 171–172

Kaberuka, Donald, 172 Kagame, Paul, 6; on acts of revenge, 137; agriculture as top priority for, 212; on beautification campaign, 211; constitutional amendment regarding, 247; corruption strategy of, 160; on draft constitution, 187; genocidal forces pursued by, 133; Gicumbi District campaign rally of, 198; interview on international abandonment, 112; Kicukiro II meeting speeches by, 159–161; on land redistribution, 206–207; regarding marriage ceremonies, 150; NRA role of, 45–46; as president election winner, 163, 195, 199; RPA guerrilla tactics led by, 85–86, 87; RPF party president, 156–157; on RPF responsibilities, 160–161; on self-worth, 244; Ukuri newspaper on, 158; at Urugwiro Village discussions preparatory meeting, 165–166; as vice president and minister of defense, 124; Vision 2020 strategy of, 210 Kampala: NRA taking, 45–46; RANU move to, 80 Kenya: benefits from investments of, 220; poverty and corruption levels in, 145tab Khan, Mushtaq H., 2 Khan, Shaharyar M., 113–114, 115 Kibeho camp: for IDPs, 127; Interahamwe in, 129; massacre,



130–132; in Zone Turquoise, 102–103 Kicukiro I meeting: elections of new NEC and Political Bureau during, 156–157; Ukuri newspaper on, 158 Kicukiro II meeting: akazu accusations during, 158–159; Kagame speeches at, 159–161 Kigali: anti-refugee activism in, 73; beautification campaign for, 211; consensus, 1; Kicukiro I meeting in, 156–158; Kicukiro II meeting in, 158–161; massacre in, 88; RPF capture of, 97–98; violent demonstrations in, 65–66 Kigeli, Mwami, 23 Kimenyi, Alexandre: Impuruza founder, 71; on Washington, DC conference, 75–76 Kinyarwanda language: decline of, 70; L’Ère de Liberté magazine article in, 142–143; Impuruza published in, 71; Umushyikirano assembly in, 215–216 Kubohoza campaigns, 64–65

Land. See Property/land Laws: antidiscrimination law (2001), 193; against ideology of genocide and sectarianism, 193–194; nationality law (1981), 36; organic budget, 205; on public contracts, 204 LDUs. See Local defense units Leave permit, 54n145 Legal and Constitutional Commission, 186–187 Lenin, 93n44 Liberal agenda, 2 Life expectancy: low rates of, 59, 60fig, 61; rise of, 221, 221tab Limongi, Fernando, 3, 4 Living conditions: extremism in relation to, 4; improvement of, 220–222, 221tab Living standards: inequality of, 233; subsistence agriculture collapse of, 59–61, 60fig, 60tab Local administration: corruption in, 215; political mobilization focus of, 214; reform, 184–186 Local defense units (LDUs), 184

Macroeconomic policy, 58 Marriage ceremonies, 150 Mass arrests: postgenocide, 137–139; of refugees in Congo/Zaire, 32–33 Massacre: of Hutus, 112–113, 114, 116; Kibeho camp, 130–132; in Kigali, 88; Mudende, 135; of 1963, 22, 62; of 1972, 25, 26 McGreal, Chris, 100 MDR. See Republican Democratic Movement Media coverage, 103–105, 104fig Micombero, Michel, 26 Mining exports, 218 Ministry of Rehabilitation, 128 Mobilization: for genocide, 66–67; government of national unity for, 155–156; media coverage and humanitarian, 103–105, 104fig; NEC meeting on, 154; RPF political/military, 82–84; women’s role in, 90 Mobutu, Joseph-Desiré, 33, 34, 35–36 MPR. See Popular Movement for the Revolution MRND. See National Revolutionary Movement for Development “The MRND Central Committee’s Position on the Issue of Rwandan Refugees,” 11, 72 Mudende massacre, 135 Mulelist rebellion, 31–32 Museveni, Yoweri: bush rebellion of, 45; NRM of, 11; on Uganda citizenship, 46

Nairobi: RANU created in, 71–72; UNAR in, 78 National Assembly: draft constitution presented to, 186–187; on MDR, 191; special commission on ideology of genocide, 192–193 National Consultative Forum of Political Organizations, 187 National debt, 226 National Electoral Commission: presidential election (2003) and, 195; RPF and, 185 National Examinations Council, 205 National Executive Committee (NEC): criticism of, 153–154; Disciplinary


Committee supplemented by, 161; election of new, 156–157; meeting on mobilization, 154; meeting on property/land ownership, 151–153; of RPF, 149–150; RPF Action Plan received by, 151 National identity: cultural dimensions of, 12–14; Weinstein on, 245–246, 250n8 National Information Communication Infrastructure Plan (NICI), 218–219 National police, 183–184 National Resistance Army (NRA): Kagame role in, 45–46; RANU in relation to, 79–80; revolutionary political training by, 81–82; Rwigema F., role in, 45–46, 79; Uganda power taken over by, 83–84 National Resistance Movement (NRM): of Museveni, 11; victory for, 45–46 National Revolutionary Movement for Development (MRND): Arusha Peace Accords impacting, 56; government of national unity modifications for, 124; MDR on, 169; refugee policy, 11 National Tender Board, 203–204 National unity: actions taken for, 169–170; ingando camp teaching on, 180; in precolonial Rwanda, 167; RANU for, 71–72, 78–81, 82; Urugwiro Village discussions on, 167–170 National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC), 231; national dialogue of, 188–189; Political Bureau establishing, 150–151; survey on relations among citizens, 236–238; survey on socioeconomics situation, 233 Nationality law (1981), 36 Nayinzira, Jean-Népomuscène, 195 NEC. See National Executive Committee NGOs. See Nongovernmental organizations NICI. See National Information Communication Infrastructure Plan Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs): humanitarian aid from, 104; Ministry of Rehabilitation and, 128; on protection in refugee camps, 105;


UNHCR under pressure from, 113 Northwest Rwanda, 134–136 NRA. See National Resistance Army NRM. See National Resistance Movement N’Sele ceasefire agreement: amendment to, 87–88; RPF and, 86 Nsengiyaremye, Dismas, 65 Ntawangundi, Joseph, 196–197 Ntezimana, Emanuel, 13–14 NURC. See National Unity and Reconciliation Commission Nutritional levels: Girinka program and, 214; global ranking of, 59, 60tab; violence in relation to, 59, 67n15 Nyamwasa, Kayumba, 173 Nyumba, Aloysia, 188

OAU. See Organization of African Unity Obote, Milton, 92n23; against Banyarwanda, 43–44; Move to the Left campaign, 77–78; refugee speech by, 44; of Uganda, 42 Office of the Ombudsman, 204–205 Operation Alleluia, 135 Operation Hope, 129 Operation Return, 129–130 Organic budget law, 205 Organization of African Unity (OAU): creation of, 24; N’Sele ceasefire agreement and, 86

Paris Declaration policy, 204, 220 Parliamentary inquiry commission: on corruption, 161–162; on divisionism and ideology of genocide, 190–191 Parmehutu: arson campaign by, 14–15; inyenzi attacks on, 20–22; massacre (1963) and, 62; MDR on, 168–169; UNAR losing power to, 23–24 Participatory democracy: elections for, 170–171; from liberal approaches, 174 Patriotism: ingando camp teaching on, 180; profit linked with, 62–63 Peace: Arusha Peace Accords, 56, 65, 108, 123–124; good governance as pillar of, 234–235; income levels influencing, 3–4; Vatican on return of, 127



Peacekeeping missions, 182–183 Petrie, Charles, 114–115 Police, national, 183–184 Policy: against Banyarwanda, 35–36; decentralization, 185, 186; DMRS, 225; economic liberalization, 209; of Habyarimana regarding refugees, 73–74; macroeconomic, 58; of Mobutu, 33, 34, 35–36; MRND refugee, 11; Paris Declaration, 204, 220; UNAR for repatriation, 19; UNAR protesting exile, 16; villagization, 38, 153 Political awakening, 70–74 Political Bureau: criticism of, 153–154; election of new, 156–157; elevenpoint program presented to, 155, 175n20; Kicukiro II meeting, 158–161; NURC established by, 150–151; of RPF, 149–150 Political intervention, 206–207 Political parties: constitution reform and role of, 186–187; elections without participation of, 170–171; mobilization for genocide, 66–67; power-sharing system of, 142–143; presidential election (2010) and, 197–198; violent demonstrations by, 65. See also specific political parties Political pluralism, 55 Political succession, 249 Political/military crisis (1990, 1994), 55–57 Political/social crisis (1994-1999), 141–146, 145tab Popular Movement for the Revolution (MPR), 35–36 Postgenocide Rwanda: analytic eclecticism approach for, 5; autonomy of reconstruction project for, 245; Congo/Zaire refugee crisis, 103; debate on continued transformation of, 247–249; democratization and, 247–248; development-oriented political order for, 246; IDPs statistics, 101; mass arrests, 137–139; McGreal on denial in, 100; political legitimacy of, 2; political succession and, 249; political/social crisis (1994–1999), 141–146, 145tab; RPF origins of

transformative ambitions for, 243–244; zones of influence, 99–103 Poverty, 229n54; corruption levels in relation to, 144–145, 145tab; demobilization process in relation to, 181; as genocide cause, 57; public perception of, 237; Rwanda rise from, 1, 220–221, 221tab Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), 211 Power politics, 17 Power-sharing system, 142–143 Precolonial Rwanda: MDR on, 168–169; national unity in, 167; Ntezimana on, 13–14 Presidential election (2003), 194, 195–196 Presidential election (2010), 194; arrests during, 197; Gicumbi District campaign rally of, 198; Ingabire and, 196–197; Kagame reelected in, 199 Preziosi, François, 32 Prisoners: Gacaca tribunals and releasing, 189; overpopulation of, 137–138 Professionalization: national police stressing, 184; peacekeeping missions reinforcing, 182–183 Profit, 62–63 Property/land: illegal occupation of, 139–140; Kagame on redistribution of, 206–207; NEC meeting on ownership of, 151–153; refugees fighting over, 152–153 PRSP. See Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper Przeworski, Adam, 3, 4 PSD. See Social Democratic Party Public contracts, 204 Public perception: of democracy, 233, 234tab; of good governance, 234–235; reform evaluation aspects, 231; of relations among citizens, 235–238; of relations between citizens and governance, 233–235, 234tab; of socioeconomics situation, 232–233, 232tab

RANU. See Rwandese Alliance for National Unity RDF. See Rwandan Defense Force


Rebellions: bush, 45; Mulelist, 31–32; Simba, 31, 32 Reconciliation: efforts toward, 167; Habyarimana in favor of, 91n5; Hutus sabotaging, 30; public perception of, 236; RDF as pillar of, 179–181. See also National Unity and Reconciliation Commission Reform: aspects for evaluating, 231; constitution, 186–188; economy, 209–210; local administration, 184–186; RPF leadership attempts at internal, 149–151 Refugee camps: genocidal forces controlling, 105–106; as zone of influence, 103 Refugees: activism, 76–77; Amin and, 43–44, 53n125, 91n5; asylum sought by, 18, 142; Belgian soldiers abandoning, 110; in Burundi, 24–31; Burundi smuggling operations with, 38; bush rebellion joined by, 45; in Congo/Zaire, 31–36; cooperation attempts regarding, 74–77; cultural and political awakening among, 70–74; ethnic cleansing by, 133; government interaction approaches of, 72; Habyarimana policy regarding, 73–74; Impuruza impacting, 71; leave permit for, 54n145; media coverage on, 103–105, 104fig; Micombero helping, 26; motherland as Rwanda, 47; MRND policy on, 11; Obote speech on, 44; property/land fought over by, 152–153; RANU on return of, 78–80; repatriation from Congo/Zaire, 231–232; repatriation from Tanzania, 134; return of 1959, 139–140; revolution (1959) resulting in, 14–17; revolutionary political training for, 81–82; RPA support from, 89–91; RPF support from, 83; second generation of, 48–49; survival resiliency of, 47–48; systemic vulnerability of, 243–244; in Tanzania, 36–40; Tanzania citizenship and, 39–40, 53n115; Tutsi, refusal to work, 18–19; in Uganda, 40–47; Washington, DC conference on, 74–75. See also


UN High Commissioner for Refugees Repatriation: Habyarimana and, 77; of refugees from Congo/Zaire, 231–232; of refugees from Tanzania, 134; UNAR for policy of, 19 Republican Democratic Movement (MDR): abolishment of, 179; factions of, 56–57; government of national unity denounced by, 125; internal dissensions report on, 190–191; kubohoza campaigns, 64–65; on MRND, 169; on precolonial Rwanda, 168–169; Rwigema, P., of, 162; Twagiramungu president of, 138 Research layout, 5–6 Revenge, acts of: reasons for, 137; RPA arrests for, 116 Revolution (1959), 14–17 RPA. See Rwandan Patriotic Army RPF. See Rwandan Patriotic Front RPPA. See Rwanda Public Procurement Authority Rural development: institutional vectors of, 214–216; turning point in, 212–214 Rural restlessness, 61–63 Rutaremara, Tito, 92n23; Legal and Constitutional Commission president, 186; Office of the Ombudsman and, 204–205; RANU transformation proposition by, 80–81; Rwigema F., death announced by, 85; at Washington, DC conference, 74 “Rwanda in a Time of Living Dangerously,” 157 Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA), 204 Rwandan Armed Forces (FAR): counteroffensive attack by, 85, 86; government of national unity and exsoldiers of, 124–126; guerrilla tactics disorienting, 87; RDF integrating exsoldiers of, 179–180; RPA recruiting ex-soldiers of, 100 Rwandan Defense Force (RDF): FAR ex-soldiers integrated into, 179–180; income level increase for, 181–182; peacekeeping missions of, 182–183; as pillar of reconciliation, 179–181;



professionalization for, 182; RPA changing name to, 180 Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA): acts of revenge arrests by, 116; crimes attributed to, 112–117; deserters of, 86; guerrilla warfare by, 84–88; Hutus massacred by, 112–113, 114, 116; insurrection fighting between genocidal forces and, 134–136; Kibeho camp massacre and, 130–131; name change to RDF, 180; recruiting ex-soldiers of FAR, 100; recruitment arrivals, 90; refugees supporting, 89–91 Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF): Abakada movement as backbone of, 118n8; Action Plan received by NEC, 151; akazu at heart of, 142, 143; Arusha Peace Accords and, 56; Bizimungu conflicting with, 162–163; black box, 5; cadres as kingpins, 92n42; creation of, 80–82; development-oriented political order from, 246; eight-point program of, 82; emergence of, 69–70; L’Ère de Liberté magazine article on, 142–143; funding for, 90; genocidal forces defeated by, 123; Gersony investigation of, 113; government of national unity formed by, 123–124; Habyarimana regime compared to, 144; ideological origins of, 77–78; Kagame on responsibilities of, 160–161; Kagame party president of, 156–157; Kicukiro I meeting regarding, 156–158; Kicukiro II meeting regarding, 158–161; Kigali captured by, 97–98; leadership attempts at internal reform, 149–151; military unified with victory of, 245–246; National Electoral Commission and, 185; NEC and Political Bureau of, 149–150; N’Sele ceasefire agreement and, 86; origins debate on, 12; origins of transformative ambitions, 243–244; party officials revolt, 142–146; political pluralism and, 55; political/military mobilization of, 82–84; RANU replaced by, 82; reconstruction path chosen by, 245; refugees supporting, 83; resiliency of,

244; Rutaremara of, 74; self-criticism of, 153–156; transparency in functioning of, 89–90; Le Tribun du Peuple newspaper on, 143–144; Ukuri newspaper on, 144; UNAMIR joint operation proposal with, 112; Urugwiro Village discussions organized by, 165–167; wealth accumulation by, 142; zone of influence, 99–101 Rwandese Alliance for National Unity (RANU): creation of, 71–72; intellectual contributions of, 78–80; RPF replacing, 82; Rutaremara transformation proposition for, 80–81 Rwandese National Union (UNAR): meeting in Uganda, 20; in Nairobi, 78; Parmehutu gaining power over, 23–24; policy of exile protested by, 16; for repatriation policy, 19 Rwigamba, Silis, 52n91 Rwigema, Fred, 93n53; attack preparations by, 84; death of, 85; NRA role of, 45–46, 79 Rwigema, Pierre-Célestin, 162

Schools. See Education systems/schools Sectarianism: ethnic, 154–155; laws against, 193–194; parliamentary inquiry commission on, 191 Security, 173–174 Self-criticism, 153–156 Self-worth, 244 Sendashonga, Seth: on property rights, 140; resignation of, 141 Simba rebellion, 31, 32 Social Democratic Party (PSD), 65, 66 Socioeconomics: development strategies, 210–212; progress in, 1, 220–222, 221tab; public perception of changing, 232–233, 232tab; searching for transformation of, 2 Straus, Scott, 117n4 Structural transformation, 222–226 Subsistence agriculture: collapse of living standards for, 59–61, 60fig, 60tab; Kaberuka on, 172; into knowledge-based economy, 210 Supreme Court: draft bill and, 162; Umuseso article on Gahima of, 164, 176n49


Systemic vulnerability, 243–244, 249n1

Tanganyika African National Union (TANU), 37–38 Tanzania: citizenship and refugees, 39–40, 53n115; poverty and corruption levels in, 144–145, 145tab; refugees in, 36–40; repatriation of refugees from, 134 Taxes, 209 Tourism, 217–218 Trade deficit, 225 Triage commissions, 138 Le Tribun du Peuple newspaper: on RPF, 143–144; “Rwanda in a Time of Living Dangerously” by, 157; on Urugwiro Village discussions, 166 Tutsis: arson campaign against, 14–15; Belgian colonial administration exile of, 14–17; colonization dividing Hutus from, 167–168; Des Forges on pillaging of, 62–63; genocide estimates for, 1, 6n3, 97–98, 117nn1–2; Hutu extermination of, 1, 98–99; Hutus massacre (1963) of, 22; ideology of genocide against children of, 192; political mobilization for genocide of, 66–67; refugees refusal to work, 18–19; total genocide of, 98–99 Twagiramungu, Faustin, 201n50; mass arrest issues for, 138; presidential election (2003) accusations against, 195, 196; as prime minister, 124; resignation of, 141

Ubudehe program, 215 Uganda: DP of, 42–43; education system in, 42; Museveni on citizenship in, 46; NRA taking over power in, 83–84; poverty and corruption levels in, 144–145, 145tab; refugees in, 40–47; UNAR meeting in, 20 Uganda People’s Congress (UPC): Banyarwanda attacked by, 44–45; DP as rival to, 42–43 Ukuri newspaper: on Kagame, 158; on RPF, 144 Umuseso, 164, 176n49 Umushyikirano assembly, 215–216 UN. See United Nations


UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR): Albright delaying, 109; creation and mandate of first, 107; creation and mandate of second, 108; Frilet search report on, 115–116; Human Rights Watch position on, 112; Operation Hope by, 129 UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR): Aga Khan of, 27; Congo/Zaire government working with, 106; genocidal forces indirect support from, 105; Gersony full report prevented by, 120n67; NGOs pressuring, 113; Preziosi of, 32; refugee crisis difficulties for, 19; refugee relocation statistics by, 18 UN Human Rights Field Operation in Rwanda (HRFOR), 147n37; IDPs help from, 130; mass arrest issues of, 138; murder statistics in 1996, 132 UN Rwanda Emergency Office (UNREO), 114–115 UNAMIR. See UN Assistance Mission for Rwanda UNAR. See Rwandese National Union Unemployment rates, 223, 224 United Nations (UN): final report, 116; Gersony allegations rejected by, 114; international abandonment by, 107–108; Operation Turquoise zone authorized by, 101; peacekeeping mission compensation from, 183; UNAR working with, 20 United States: international abandonment by, 108–110; Washington, DC conference, 74–76 UNREO. See UN Rwanda Emergency Office UPC. See Uganda People’s Congress Urugwiro Village discussions: on democracy, 170–171; on economy, 172–173; on justice, 171–172; Kagame at preparatory meeting of, 165–166; on national unity, 167–170; NURC reflecting wishes of, 188; RPF organizing, 165–167; on security, 173–174

Vatican, 127 Villagization policy, 38, 153



Violence: democratization, 63–67; against Gacaca tribunal witnesses, 189–190, 190fig; ideology of genocide law lessening, 194; nutritional levels in relation to, 59, 67n15; rural restlessness and increasing, 61–63 Vision 2020: ICT role in, 218–219; socioeconomic development strategy, 210–211 Vision 2020 Umurenge Program (VUP), 213 Vision 2050, 212 Vulnerability, systemic, 243–244, 249n1 VUP. See Vision 2020 Umurenge Program

Washington, DC conference: Kimenyi on, 75–76; on refugees, 74–75 Weinstein, Jeremy M., 245–246, 250n8 Women: cultural revival led by, 71; election representation of, 185, 200n16; fertility rates, 221, 221tab; rights of, 61; RPA mobilization role of, 90

World Bank: Doing Business ranking, 219, 220; economic growth recommendations from, 225–226; humanitarian aid promised from, 58; low-income economy defined by, 4; on sustainability of Rwandan vision, 61 World Values surveys, 231; on citizen and government relations, 233–234, 234tab; on corruption, 207–208; regarding Gacaca tribunals, 236; on socioeconomic situation, 232, 232tab

Yeld, Rachel, 17

Zaire. See Congo/Zaire Zigama Credit and Saving Society, 181–182 Zone of influence: French army’s Zone Turquoise as, 101–103; refugee camps as, 103; RPF controlled, 99–101 Zone Turquoise: IDPs camps closed in former, 128–132; zone of influence, 101–103

About the Book

Since the end of its genocidal civil war in 1994, Rwanda has embarked on an ambitious, and often controversial, process of reconstruction. Jean-Paul Kimonyo comprehensively analyzes that process in the political, military, socioeconomic, and cultural arenas. Kimonyo combines the objectivity of a scholar with the front-row perspective of a participant to provide an unparalleled analysis of the ups and downs of Rwanda’s transformation. Drawing extensively on primary sources and grounding his study in historical context, he traces and analyzes the states of reconstruction as they have continued to unfold since the election of Paul Kagame to the presidency.

Jean-Paul Kimonyo is a senior adviser in the Office of the President of Rwanda and also a fellow at the Rift Valley Institute.