The civil war from 1990 to 1994

Since the Hutu revolution of 1959, the exiled Tutsi never lost hope of one day returning to their motherland to take over power. After several losses during their incursions in the years that followed the declaration of independence, they decided to get organized. In exile, they acquired military training and skills, particularly within the Ugandan army, that they used to organize their own army to invade Rwanda. They considered that war was the only way to get back into their country since 1962 since the successive Hutu governments never accepted their return. At the end of 1987, the FPR-Inkotanyi was created, a political-military movement that launched, on the 1st of October 1990, an attack against Rwanda from Uganda. These troops managed to occupy a part of the territory in the North of the country, the governmental army was unable to dislodge them, even with the support of foreign troops, particularly the French.

Habyarimana’s government immediately gave the conflict an ethic aspect, and again the Tutsi from the inside of Rwanda paid a high price for it. Indeed, after this attack, the government focused on the interethnic positions and tensions. Already confronted with internal political demands, he turned the Hutu against the Tutsi living in Rwanda; these had been qualified indistinctively as accomplices of the FPR, and therefore enemies of the state. Approximately ten thousand Tutsi and Hutu opponents were mistreated and thrown in jail. Among them, an undetermined number died. In the north of the country, particularly in the home region of the president, hundreds of Tutsi were also killed and others chased from their land. The FPR troops also perpetrated actions towards civilians and made them go to camps for displaced persons situated outside the country.

Furthermore, under the pressure of the international community, who wanted a democratization of the country, the president allowed a multiparty system. New political parties were therefore born. The demands both internal and external, for a democratization of the whole political system and the Rwandan society became more and more pressing and weakened Habyarimana’s government even more. He now found himself weakened by, on the one hand, by the FPR threatening his authority, and on the other hand, Hutu political opponents which were exceedingly virulent. Habyarimana had to accept to free the Tutsi and Hutu that had been imprisoned on the pretext of being FPR accomplices. He also accepted, at least formally, the principle of negotiations with the FPR, to end the war and talk about the division of power. Unfortunately, “the tough guys” of his government, i.e. his direct entourage composed of civilians and military mainly from the North, rejected any perspective of division of power. In August 1991, the MRND created a paramilitary militia called the Interahamwe, to constitute the armed wing of the party. The Interahamwe composed of civilians, enforcers of the dire deeds.

In April 1992, the opposition and the international community imposed on president Habyarimana a transitional multiparty government system, which swiftly started negotiations with the FPR, in Arusha, Tanzania. These negotiations led to the Arusha Peace Agreement, signed on the 4th of August 1993, which brought a glimmer of hope to the Rwandans, especially to the Tutsi living outside the country. To ensure the implementation of the agreement, the UN sent the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda as peacekeepers. A battalion of 600 soldiers from the FPR settled in Kigali in the Parliament. Its mission was to ensure the security of the FPR officials that participated in the institutions of transition. However, the peace agreement failed to win unanimous support, 2 factions opposed themselves: the supporters and the opponents of the Arusha Peace Agreement. Several political parties divided because of this and the peace agreement was never implemented.