- Habyarimana, Juvenal
▪ 1995Rwandan army officer and politician (b. March 8, 1937?, Gasizi, Gisenyi province, Ruanda-Urundi—d. April 6, 1994, near Kigali, Rwanda), ruled Rwanda almost single-handedly for more than 20 years after he seized power in a bloodless coup on July 5, 1973. Habyarimana studied humanities and mathematics at St. Paul's College and medicine at Lovanium University, both in Belgian Congo (now Zaire). He returned home in 1960 to begin training for the National Guard in Kigali. Although he was a member of the Hutu majority ethnic group, he proved to be an effective officer against insurgents from both the Hutu and the Tutsi minority. He rapidly rose through the ranks, becoming chief of staff (1963-65) and then minister of defense and police chief of staff (1965-73). In April 1973 he was promoted to major general; three months later he led a group of disgruntled Hutu officers in the overthrow of Pres. Grégoire Kayibanda. Habyarimana initially banned all political activity. In 1975 he established the National Revolutionary Movement for Development, with himself as sole leader of the single-party state. He gradually allowed more civilian involvement, however, and after the country's first multiparty elections in 1992, he was forced to relinquish some power to the new Tutsi prime minister. Habyarimana and Pres. Cyprien Ntaryamira, the Hutu leader of neighbouring Burundi, were returning from ongoing peace talks between the two ethnic groups when their plane was shot down. The death of the two Hutu presidents under suspicious circumstances ignited the simmering tensions between the Hutu and Tutsi and led to the massacres and the mass exodus from Rwanda.
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