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Africa
Rwandan genocide and its legacy
The main events surrounding the 1994 mass killings.
Last Modified: 07 Apr 2009 21:05 GMT

The consequences of the 1994 massacre are still being felt today [EPA] 

Between April and June 1994, the small central African state of Rwanda was the scene of a genocide in which more than one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed in just 100 days.

Many in the country are still coming to terms with the consequences of the massacre.

At the beginning of the 1990s, members of the armed wing of the Tutsi-dominated Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) - many of whom had been soldiers in the Ugandan army - invaded northern Rwanda.

Forces loyal to the Rwandan government, led by Juvenal Habyarimana, Rwanda's Hutu president, and backed by French forces and troops from Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, fought back.

Much of the country descended into what was effectively a civil war, until Rwanda and the RPF eventually signed a peace deal in August 1993. The power-sharing pact paved the way for the return of refugees who had fled the fighting.

However, Habyarimana was slow in implementing the agreement and a transitional government failed to get off the ground.

President killed

On April 6, 1994, Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira, the president of neighbouring Burundi, were killed when their plane was shot down as it flew to Kigali, the Rwandan capital.

It remains unclear who was behind the rocket attack.

The following day presidential guards killed Agathe Uwilingiwimana, the moderate Hutu prime minister, who had tried to calm tensions.

Habyarimana's death signalled the beginning of a 100-day massacre, perpetrated mainly by Hutus against Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

More than one million people were killed, many butchered with machetes by a group of Hutu fighters known as the Interahamwe.

Meanwhile, the RPF advanced and seized control of Rwanda after driving the 40,000-strong Hutu army and more than two million civilian Hutus into exile in Burundi, Tanzania and Zaire (DR Congo).

In July 1994, a new government was sworn in with Pasteur Bizimungu, a Hutu, named president and Paul Kagame, the RPF commander, as vice-president.

Kagame was elected president in April 2000 and remains in office.

Regional fallout

The genocide and the Rwandan conflict have had consequences that are still being felt today.

Rwandan troops twice invaded neighbouring Congo in the 1990s to try to hunt down perpetrators of the massacre.

The genocide is also at the root of the fighting in the east of the Democratic Congo between General Laurent Nkunda, a rebel Tutsi general, and the Congolese army and pro-government armed groups.

Nkunda and the Rwandans accuse Kinshasa of backing Hutu rebels who are remnants of the Interahamwe, while Congo accuses Rwanda of backing Nkunda.

In Europe, France has poor relations with Rwanda, with Jean-Louis Bruguiere, a French judge, alleging that Kagame ordered Habyarimana's assassination in a bid to seize power.

Kagame denies the allegation.

France had close ties with the pre-Kagame Hutu government and signed a military agreement with Habyarimana in 1975. Paris sent a force to Rwanda during the genocide.

However, although French troops were said to be impartial, many in Rwanda accuse Paris of backing those behind the killings ignoring Rwandans targeted during the genocide.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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