From Kayibanda To Kagame – My New Article Series On Rwandan Dictatorships (No2)

Habyarimana’s Coup d’Etat And His Development Agenda

From the US Embassy documents dating from 1973 to 1977, I got a sense of how the coup makers justified the overthrow of the Kayibanda regime. I also got an insight into the development agenda proclaimed by the new regime led by Habyarimana.

What is remarkable is how similar the development agenda of Kagame is similar to Habyarimana’s as we see below.

But first, how did the Habyarimana coup come about? Remember, I am using a single source, so by no means do I claim to have a definitive grasp of what happened.

Begin with Kayibanda’s March 26, 1973 Statement. In that statement Kayibanda issued a series of threats and denunciations, including the following:

  • 1. Those preaching regional nihilism will be expelled.
  • 2. Certain European and Tutsi teachers are behind subversive movement.
  • 3. Ethnic ratios of the population is 89 Hutu, 10 Tutsi, and 1 Twa.
  • 4. National will is for socio-ethnic balance in schools.
  • 5. Any foreign technician who is not content can get an airplane ticket and leave whenever he wants.
  • 6. Talk of coup d’état is dismissed.
  • 7. Disloyal acts will be punished.

But Kayibanda was in for a shock. He was overthrown three months later.

AMERICAN EMBASSY CABLES DESCRIBED THE COUP ON JULY 5, 1973 AS FOLLOWS:

  • PRESIDENT KAYIBANDA UNDER GUARD “PROTECTION”…
  • MINISTERS AND ADVISORS INCOMMUNICADO..
  • NUMBER TWO MEN IN MINISTRIES CONDUCTING CURRENT BUSINESS…
  • TAKEOVER OF RWANDA GOVT. BY NATIONAL GUARD…OCCURRED EARLY MORNING JULY 5 AND GENERAL HABYARIMANA…

THE JUSTIFICATIONS OF THE COUP D’ÉTAT BY THE COUP MAKERS INCLUDED THE FOLLOWING:

  • 1. DOMINATION OF THE STATE BY THE GITARAMA PEOPLE.
  • 2. CORRUPTION AND PERSONAL ENRICHMENT, WHILE NEGLECTING THE MASSES.
  • 3. ENCOURAGING ETHNIC TENSIONS TO STRENGTHEN OWN POLITICAL POSITION AMONG MAJORITY.
  • 4. SENSELESS EXPULSION OF FOREIGNERS.

THE PROGRAM OF THE NEW REGIME INCLUDED THE FOLLOWING:

  • 1. NEW INVESTMENT CODE DESIGNED TO PROVIDE TAX BENEFITS TO RWANDAN AS WELL AS FOREIGN INVESTORS.
  • 2. HIGHER PRICES TO RWANDA’S COFFEE PRODUCERS TO STIMULATE THE SECTOR.
  • 3. REWARDING RWANDA’S WORKERS BY REDUCING PUBLIC SECTOR WORK WEEK FROM 49 TO 46.5 HOURS.
  • 4. UMUGANDA BECAME AN ESSENTIAL TOOL FOR DEVELOPMENT AND MEASURE OF VALUE OF WORK…
  • 5. MRND CELLS IN SECTORS OF COMMUNES WOULD PROVIDE MECHANISM FOR CONSULTATION ON PROJECTS.
  • 6. REGIONAL COOPERATION BETWEEN RWANDA AND TANZANIA WOULD LEAD TO THE CONSTRUCTION RUSUMO-ISAKA ROAD, RAILROAD LINKING RWANDA TO EAST AFRICAN NETWORK AND PROPOSED HYDRO-ELECTRIC PLANT AT RUSUMO FALLS.

QUESTIONS TO MY READERS

We of course know that there was no railway or hydroelectric power plant during Habyarimana’s days. Kagame’s railway was supposed to be running by now – I will be pleasantly surprised if Kagame ever builds it. We do know, of course, that Kagame incorporated Habyarimana’s Umuganda in his (Kagame’s ) “innovation.”

The three Rwandan dictators do share one thing though – love for power. Each changed the constitution to cling to and grab more power. Each won elections by over 90 percent. Each ended violently. Habyarimana starved Kayibanda and massacred his ministers. Habyarimana was shot from the sky. Kagame thinks he is the new kinani, but there is no such a thing.

  1. What do we see in all of this?
  2. Why do these regimes rise and fall bringing hell on Rwandan people?
  3. What role do Rwandan people play, if any?
  4. What can Rwandan people possibly do to overcome the dictatorship trap?

References

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