Juvénal Habyarimana

Juvénal Habyarimana bigraphy, stories - Rwandan politician

Juvénal Habyarimana : biography

March 8, 1937 – April 6, 1994

Juvénal Habyarimana (March 8, 1937 – April 6, 1994) was the second President of the Republic of Rwanda, the post he held longer than any other president to date, from 1973 until 1994. During his 20-year rule he favored his own ethnic group, the Hutus, and supported the Hutu majority in neighboring Burundi against the Tutsi government. He was nicknamed "Kinani", a Kinyarwanda word meaning "invincible".

Habyarimana was a dictatorial leader, and electoral fraud was suspected for his unopposed re-elections: 98.99% of the vote on 24 December 1978, 99.97% of the vote on 19 December 1983, and 99.98% of the vote on 19 December 1988. During his rule, Rwanda became a totalitarian order in which his MRND-party enforcers required people to chant and dance in adulation of the President at mass pageants of political "animation". While the country as a whole had grown a bit less poor during Habyarimana’s tenure, the great majority of Rwandans remained in circumstances of extreme poverty.

On April 6, 1994, he was killed when his airplane, also carrying the President of Burundi, Cyprien Ntaryamira, was shot down close to Kigali International Airport. His assassination ignited ethnic tensions in the region and helped spark the Rwandan Genocide.


In October 1990, an invasion against Habyarimana’s government began when rebels from the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a force of mostly Tutsi Rwandan refugees and expatriates who had served in the Ugandan army (many in key positions), crossed the border from Uganda. The French and Zairian militaries intervened on behalf of Habyarimana’s government forces, and a troubled ceasefire was officially reached in 1993 through the Arusha Accords.


On July 5, 1973, while serving as Army Chief of Staff, Habyarimana seized power by overthrowing Grégoire Kayibanda and ousting the then-ruling Parmehutu party. In 1975, he created the Mouvement Révolutionaire National pour le Développement as the country’s only legal party. The government stayed almost entirely in military hands until 1978, when a new constitution was approved in a referendum. At the same time, Habyarimana was elected to a five-year term as president as the only candidate. He was reelected in single-candidate elections in 1983 and 1989.

Initially, he won favor among both Hutu and Tutsi groups given his administration’s reluctance to implement policies that catered to his primarily Hutu supporters. This restraint did not last and Habyarimana eventually began to oversee a government that mirrored the policies of Kayibanda. Quotas were once again applied to jobs for “universities and government services” which intentionally disadvantaged Tutsis. As Habyarimana continued to favor a smaller and smaller coterie of supporters, the more Hutu groups —slighted by the nation’s leader— cooperated with Tutsis to weaken his leadership. By the start of the invasion from Uganda by the army of the Rwanda Patriotic Front, a rebel army made up mostly of refugee Tutsi who had helped Uganda’s Museveni seize control of the presidency, Habyarimana’s supporters had shrunk down to the akazu ("little house" or "President’s household"), which was mainly composed of an informal group of Hutu extremists from his home province, namely from the reigions “Gisenyi and Ruhengeri in the north-west”.

From 1975 to 1990, the MRND and the Habyarimana government were one. Local administrations simultaneously represented the official party as well as the local authority. Legal and party policies were communicated and enforced from the Head of State down through the local administrative units, especially the general policy of Umuganda where Rwandans were required to “allocate half a day’s labour per week” to infrastructural projects. Habyarimana is sometimes described as a moderateMurphy, Sean D. ‘Humanitarian intervention: Volume 21 of Procedural aspects of international law series’. University of Pennsylvania Press, 1996. ISBN 0812233824, 9780812233827 Length 427 pages. Page 243.Feher. ‘Powerless by Design: The Age of the International Community Public Planet Series’. Duke University Press, 2000 ISBN 0822326132, 9780822326137. Length 167 pages. Page 50-60 though the party is said to have used right-wing propaganda methods,Gridmheden, Jonas. Ring, Rolf. ‘Essays in Honour of Göran Melander Volume 26 of The @Raoul Wallenberg Institute human rights library: Raoul Wallenberg Institutet för Mänskliga Rättigheter och Humanitär Rätt Volume 26 of The Raoul Wallenberg Institute Human Rights Library’. ISSN 1388-3208. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2006. ISBN 9004151818, 9789004151819. Length 394 pages. Page 173 advanced a conservative political agendaBauer, Gretchen. Trmblay, Manon. ‘Women in Executive Power: A Global Overview’. Taylor & Francis, 2011. ISBN 1136819150, 9781136819155. Length 240 pages. Page 93 and was anti-communistButare-Kiyovu. ‘International Development from a Kingdom Perspective William Carey International University international development series’. WCIU Press, 2010. ISBN 0865850283, 9780865850286. Page 159Association of Adventist Forums. ‘Spectrum: Journal of the Association of Adventist Forums, Volume 27’. The Association, 1999. The University of Wisconsin – Madison. Page 71West Africa, Issues 3814-3825. West Africa Publishing Company Limited, 1990. Page 2757Brown Jr., Thomas J. Guillot, Philippe. Minear, Larry. ‘Soldiers to the Rescue: Humanitarian Lessons from Rwanda’. Institute for International Studies (Brown University). OECD Publishing, 1996. ISBN 9264149171, 9789264149175. Length 200 pages. Page 22