On July 4th, 1994, the capital city of Rwanda, Kigali, fell to the forces of the Rwandese Patriotic Army (RPA), the armed wing of the RPF. The members of the so-called Provisional Government (established after the plane crash that claimed the lives of the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi), the armed groups, and many people who were involved in genocide, fled mainly to Zaire and to Tanzania. Over 2 million refugees fled to Tanzania and Zaire.
On July 19th, 1994, RPF established a Government of National Unity with four other political parties, with a Prime Minister from one of these parties as the head of government business. These parties are the Liberal Party, the Social Democratic Party, the Christian Democratic Party, and the Republican Democratic Movement. Weeks later, the National Assembly was nominated by the four above-mentioned parties plus three other smaller parties, namely, the Islamic Party, the Socialist Party, and the Democratic Union for Rwandese People, in addition to the RPF. In this Parliament with 70 seats, RPF has only 13.
Two years after the establishment of the government, almost 4000 elements from the army of the previous regimes have been integrated into the new national army, RPA.
The Cabinet, the National Assembly, and other institutions of government have not, for the first time, been established on the basis of ethnicity. They are not “Tutsi-led” or “Tutsi-dominated”, as the enemies of the government have quite often alleged. It is the first time in the history of Rwanda that inclusive institutions are being established deliberately to fight the politics of division that have polarised the Rwandan society for so long, thereby sowing the seeds of genocide.
Two Years After the Fall of the Regime
Two years ago, the Government of Rwanda began the difficult task of rebuilding the country. In 1994, schools, hospitals, factories, government departments, electricity, water, telephones – none of these were functioning. There had been almost 100% displacement of the population both internally and externally. The country had suffered loss of human resources in an unparalleled way either through genocide or by people fleeing into exile.
Largely depending on the internal resources, the government was able to mobilise Rwandese people to start schools, health centres, central and local administration, provide electricity, water, telephones, etc…
Two million refugees have been repatriated, putting the population of Rwanda today at 6.5 million. The problem of the internally displaced people has been resolved. Under difficult conditions the people are slowly beginning to cater for their own needs.
In the process of ensuring justice, legislation on genocide is about to be adopted that will help in the trials of over 70,000 genocide suspects. While there is overcrowding in the prisons, the government has tried to alleviate the conditions with the help of some international organisations. More prison space has been created. Putting suspects in prison has, among other things, minimized the possibility of revenge killings. It should also be appreciated that the number of people involved in genocide is many times bigger than the current number in prisons. Justice is important as a way of breaking the culture of impunity. It is a critical factor in national reconciliation.
The government has established some minimum security and stability for all the citizens without distinction, although the defeated regime continues to wage a campaign of destabilisation with the complicity of foreign governments, mainly Zaire.
The International Tribunal for Rwanda, which is supposed to indict and try the genocide suspects, has not been able to have these perpetrators of genocide indicted and brought to trial in Arusha, Tanzania. On the contrary, they continue to rearm, to train, and to control the refugee camps to prevent repatriation of the refugees.
In Geneva, Switzerland on June 20th, 1996 the International Community made pledges totaling to $617 million in support of Rwanda’s programme of reconciliation, rehabilitation and development.
Above all, the durable foundations for national reconciliation are being laid.
THE CHALLENGES AHEAD
The Government of Rwanda will continue to rely on the Rwandese people in facing the challenges. The government’s programme is based on the following objectives:
i) Preservation of an atmosphere of peace and security, as well as bringing to justice those guilty of taking part in genocide;
ii) Restoration and strengthening of National Unity;
iii) Repatriation, resettlement and social reintegration of refugees;
iv) Improvement of the population’s living conditions, especially the resolution of the social problems of orphans, widows, handicapped persons, victims of war, genocide and massacres of 1994;
v) Development of the national economy; and
vi) Development of human resources.