Rwanda | Peace with the Democratic Republic of Congo and a New Constitution
- Rwanda Main Page
- Pervasive Ethnic Violence
- Mass Genocide and Refugee Problems
- Peace with the Democratic Republic of Congo and a New Constitution
- Parliament Votes in Favor of Third Term for Kagame
Peace with the Democratic Republic of Congo and a New Constitution
Rwanda continued fighting against the Democratic Republic of the Congo throughout its four-year civil war. Finally, in July 2002, the two countries signed a peace accord: Rwanda promised to withdraw its 35,000 troops from the Congolese border; Congo in turn agreed to disarm the thousands of Hutu militiamen in its territory, who threatened Rwandan security.
In May 2003, 93% of Rwandans voted to approve a new constitution that instituted a balance of political power between Hutu and Tutsi. No party, for example, can hold more than half the seats in parliament. The constitution also outlawed the incitement of ethnic hatred. In Aug. 26 presidential elections, the first since the Rwandan genocide, Paul Kagame, who had served as president since 2000, won a landslide victory. In June 2004, Pasteur Bizimungu, the Hutu who had served as president between 1994 and 2000 (then–vice president Kagame held the real power), was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of inciting ethnic hatred. Many considered the trial politically motivated.
Economic and social conditions in Rwanda during President Kagame's first term improved markedly. He has clamped down on corruption and crime, per capita income doubled between 2000 and 2008, life expectancy increased, and nearly half of the country's children are completing primary school, compared to 20% pre-Kagame.
In 2004, a French judge asserted that Kagame was responsible for the 1994 downing of a plane that killed the presidents of both Rwanda and Burundi and set off ethnic violence that killed some 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu. Kagame vehemently denied the charge. In 2008, Rose Kabuye, a senior aide to Kagame, was arrested at Frankfurt International Airport on a warrant from France and charged in connection with the crash.
A UN court in Dec. 2008 convicted Col. Theoneste Bagosora, a Hutu extremist, of genocide for his involvement in the 1994 massacre of 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu. He is the highest-ranking military official charged in connection with the genocide. Several other prominent officials were later tried and sentenced to life in prison.
Despite the economic and social gains made under Kagame, hints of repression emerged in the months leading up to Aug. 2010's presidential election. Two opposition leaders were killed, a former army leader who has been critical of Kagame was shot in South Africa, and Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza, the leader of an party who intended to challenge Kagame, was arrested on charges of promoting genocide. (She was sentenced to eight years in prison in November 2012.) Nevertheless, Kagame was reelected, taking 93% of the vote.
Pierre Damien Habumuremyi was appointed as prime minister and sworn in on Oct. 7, 2011. There was no change in key cabinet portfolios. Habumuremyi served as prime minister until he was replaced by Public Service and Labor Minister Anastase Murekezi in July 24, 2014.