In the waiting room of the Rwandan genocide tribunal

Why I agreed to be an expert witness for the defence – and why the judge wouldn’t let me.

Barrie Collins

Topics Politics

Back in early 2005, I received an email from Ben Gumpert, the lead defence lawyer for one of the accused at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. An expert witness for the prosecution had submitted a report that dealt extensively with a pamphlet I wrote about Rwanda. Having read the pamphlet himself, Gumpert felt that I had been misrepresented and that it would be useful if I were to clear matters up in court. He had also read other publications of mine on Rwanda, and believed I was well-placed to counter the view of the prosecution that the tragic events in Rwanda during 1994 were largely an internal matter.

My first reaction was sceptical. So far as I was concerned, the Tribunal had already shown itself less than able to conduct fair trials and was a highly politicised body toeing the line of the US, its primary sponsor. And since I had already published material making that argument about the court, I thought the court would reject me. I would end up wasting a lot of time preparing for what would turn out to be a non-appearance.

However, following much further discussion, I decided to give it a go. Of course, I knew that appearing for the defence in a genocide trial would tar me as an apologist for the savages who really did murder hundreds of thousands of civilians simply because they were of the same ethnic origin as the majority of the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front. But that has long been an easy shot against anyone who refuses to follow the official version of events in Rwanda.

I thought it was worth a try because my material had already been (badly) presented by the prosecution and was now a part of its official documentation. And apart from feeling the urge to put the record straight on my own work, I also felt that the official claims about what happened in Rwanda – that the extermination of a huge number of Tutsis was caused by a reaction on the part of Hutu extremists to what was, until April 1994, a successful transition process towards peace and democracy – was beginning to unravel.

According to this version, Western powers had turned a new leaf with the passing of the Cold War in Africa and had played a positive role in encouraging Rwanda’s progress toward ethnic harmony and democracy. All would have been fine had Hutu extremists not planned and executed genocide in order to reverse these gains and retain their power. But by 2005, the evidence for such planning and execution was beginning to wear thin, while evidence of the role of the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front, and the support given to it by Uganda and the US, was showing that the roots of the tragedy were in the international sphere and could not be fully explained by a conspiracy of disaffected Hutus.

The cracks were beginning to show; the truth would eventually come out. Were that to happen, I would feel a sense of vindication to be on record as one of the early dissenters from the original version of events. (For a full account of my arguments on the war in Rwanda, see my report to the court, ‘The international dynamics behind the Rwandan tragedy’, published below.)

My appearance was supposed to have been on 4 December 2005, but the prosecution wanted more time to study my report to the court. The next available slot was 20 March 2006. But upon my arrival in Arusha, Tanzania, two days earlier, Ben Gumpert told me that the prosecution had suddenly raised an objection to my appearance. Apparently, they hadn’t had enough time to go over my curriculum vitae.

I was driven to the court from my hotel on the appointed day, and escorted to a small waiting room at 9am. An hour later, nothing had happened. Finally, at 11.30am, Jonathon Kirk from the defence team told me that I would not be appearing that day. The judge had agreed that the prosecution needed more time to obtain more documents to support my cv. The next day I had to sign documents that elaborated upon my cv. I was then told to be in court that afternoon – for a public hearing of my suitability as an expert witness. This meant another session in the waiting room, from 2.30pm until 4.45pm when an ashen-faced Gumpert told me that the judges had allowed the prosecution yet more time, and that I would need to appear the following Monday, not to testify, but to face questions about my suitability as an expert. Yet the judges knew that their functionaries had already booked me on my return flight the Saturday before….

Gumpert also asked me a question that the prosecutor had put to him: had I been convicted in South Africa for possession of pornography? No, I replied – and for what it’s worth, I have no criminal record either in South Africa, where I grew up and lived until I was 27, or in Britain, where I have lived since. This was no more than a shot in the dark intended to rattle me. I said it was reminiscent of the sort of questions I’d had to deal with at the hands of the apartheid-era security police. Not becoming of an international criminal tribunal, perhaps.

On 22 April 2006, I took another flight to Arusha at the expense of the United Nations. The following day I actually made it from the waiting room into the court. Three judges in front of me. Three teams of defence lawyers to my left (three trials were running concurrently), and one team of prosecutors to my right. First the friendly questions from Gumpert. I confirmed that I had run a Masters course on the international politics of Africa at the School of African and Oriental Studies at the University of London. I had been interviewed for this position on the strength of a paper on Rwanda I presented at a British International Studies Association conference. I was to stand in for a year for someone who was on sabbatical. At the end of that year, the politics department asked me to stay on: they needed a tutor for another Masters course in International and Diplomatic Studies.

After confirming all of what was in front of me in my cv, it was then the prosecution’s turn. ‘After being the sole lecturer for a Masters course, you became merely a tutor. Isn’t it correct to say that, in the academic world, a tutor is the lowest of the low?’ And so it went on. I was in the process of completing my PhD; I wasn’t yet a doctor of philosophy; my publications were not in the top international relations journals. I was no longer a professional academic; my job was different from my academic work.

All true, but also well known to the prosecution last December. ‘So your interest in Rwanda is merely a hobby, something you do in your spare time…?’ This went on all day. I kept my cool, and when given the opportunity I said that the only issue that needed to be considered was the substance of my publications, and report to the court, and their relevance to the case. I also said that I had felt a certain obligation to appear since an expert witness presented by the prosecution had devoted a considerable portion of his report to the court to my material.

The judges told me to return the next morning for the ruling on my suitability. The following morning I spent another four hours in the waiting room. As it turned out, I was not called to the court. One of their minions appeared and told me that the judges had ruled against my appearance and he had instructions to drive me back to my hotel.

An extremely deflated and angry Ben Gumpert joined me for lunch at the hotel. As it turned out, the court had not been in session until 12pm. Proceedings were held up in order that a letter explaining the ruling could be drafted. The gist of the letter is that while I am ‘taking steps toward attaining a certain level of expertise’, I have ‘not yet attained that status’.

Of course I felt cheated and outraged. But I had to remind myself of my initial thoughts when I was first approached to appear. At the outset, the judge had agreed to my appearance, but that was before my report was received. The prosecution were then given free rein to play their games.

What is really outrageous is not so much the court’s treatment of me; after all, I was not the accused (although it sometimes felt that way). It was the fact that an international tribunal could conduct itself in such a manner. Justin Mugenzi is charged with the worst of all crimes: genocide. He has been on trial since 1999. At the very least, the planning and execution of genocide would need to be fully established before a full examination of an individual’s role within it could be determined.

But it’s clear why these cases take so long – dealing with my non-appearance as an expert witness used up the best part of three-and-a-half days of the trial, spread over four months. Because of all the time and preparation for my appearance, the defence is left unable to find a replacement expert. This means the defence lawyers have no choice but to accept the official explanation for the Rwandan genocide as given by the tribunal’s guru, Alison Des Forges of Human Rights Watch. This explanation rests on the behaviour of good (‘moderate’) and bad (‘extremist’) Hutus. Ironically, Mugenzi was a ‘moderate’ because he was leader of the Liberal Party which stood against ethnic domination and had the highest percentage of Tutsis of any opposition party of significance. But then, according to the prosecution, he turned into an ‘extremist’ when his party split.

What they really mean is that he turned against the Western-sponsored Arusha Accords that had elevated the unelectable Rwandan Patriotic Front into a dominant position. The fact that the Accords had thereby posed a grave threat to Rwanda’s move towards democracy does not figure where the definition of moderates and extremists are concerned. After all, this is a story about the good, the bad, and the genocidaire.

The international dynamics behind the Rwandan tragedy

Report for the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda, by Barrie Collins, January 2006.

Of the many countries in the developing world that experienced the destabilising effects of Western intervention in the post-Cold War era, Rwanda stands out as one of the most tragic and least understood. The tragedy of Rwanda is evidenced most strikingly by the horror of countless lives lost and livelihoods destroyed, and also by the torn fabric of a society that was, despite its poverty and reliance upon external inputs, in the process of generating its own developmental dynamic. What is misunderstood is the mediation between the various forms of intervention by the international community in general, and by a few Western powers in particular, and the dynamics that unleashed the mass slaughter that erupted in April 1994.

Because the international community failed to intervene and put an end to the killings of civilians at this time, Rwanda is known around the world for one thing above all others: a shameful episode of international non-intervention. The prevailing perspective has it that the preceding interventions by Western powers were by and large positive ones that had facilitated democratisation, economic reform and conflict resolution. Indeed, the cumulative outcome of these processes, the Arusha Accords, was regarded at the time as exemplary and a vindication of a cosmopolitan humanitarianism that had become viable with the passing away of Cold War vested interests.

As a result, the political crisis that developed upon the signing of the Arusha Accords, and the slide into the abyss that culminated in mass slaughter in 1994, are not thought to be attributable to any extent to the effects of actions taken by Western powers. With the partial exception of France, no Western actor is thought to be accountable for taking actions that contributed to the Rwandan tragedy. Responsibility for the explosion of violence is held to be with domestic elements. The failure to implement the Arusha Accords, the escalating civil disorder during the interlude between the signing of the Accords in August 1993 and the outbreak of renewed war and massacres in April 1994, are all attributed to a conspiracy devised by Hutu extremists.

As a result, the United Nations and the key Western actors that were involved are not thought to be in any way responsible for intervening in ways that contributed to the polarisation of Rwandan society and accelerating the downward spiral toward mass killings. Rather, they are condemned for not intervening enough. Responsibility for the killings is located solely with Hutu extremism.

Of course, the individuals who actually performed and facilitated killings are fully responsible for their actions. But the wider social forces that created the conditions for mass killing are not solely attributable to conspiracies of Hutu extremists. The view of this author is that this position ignores evidence that suggests more salient contributing factors.

The argument developed here challenges what can be termed the mainstream position which holds that between 1990 and April 1994, the international community played a positive role in Rwanda, and that the progress attributable to this role was sabotaged and destroyed by a conspiracy of Hutu extremists who planned a genocide in order to derail the democratic process and permanently secure ‘Hutu power’. The fact that Tutsi civilians were killed because they were Tutsis is not in question. What is in question is how the conditions that led to the killings were created, and by whom.

The war between the RPF and the forces of the Rwandan government provides the central and overriding context of the killings that were unleashed in April 1994. Once the killings commenced, they became a component of the resumed war between these same two parties. While the military victory of the RPF is attributed to the ending of the killings of Tutsi civilians, this author concurs with the view of René Lemarchand that the RPF ‘bears much of the onus of responsibility for the carnage, for without the RPF invasion there would have been no genocide’(1). Even African Rights, a human rights organisation viewed by many as the most partisan toward the RPF (2), states that ‘…it is beyond dispute that the RPF invasion of 1 October 1990 was the single most important factor in escalating the political polarisation of Rwanda, and plunging it into a war that displaced hundreds of thousands of people.’ (3)

This author endorses the view of Alan Kuperman that:

‘There are four potential explanations for the RPF pursuing a violent challenge that provoked such tragic consequences. One possibility is that the Tutsi rebels did so irrationally, without thinking of expected consequences. A second is that they did contemplate consequences, but their expectations did not include retaliation against civilians. A third is that the RPF expected violence against Tutsi civilians regardless of whether it challenged the Hutu regime, and so perceived little extra risk from doing so. The final possibility is that the rebels expected their challenge to provoke genocidal retaliation but viewed this as an acceptable cost of achieving their goal of attaining power in Rwanda. The evidence detailed in this study supports only the last explanation.’ (4)

Kuperman reached this conclusion having interviewed several former senior members of the RPF, including Patrick Mazimpaka – director of external affairs and top peace negotiator during the war, Theogene Rudasingwa – deputy peace negotiator and later chief of cabinet, Karenzi Karake – director of war operations in 1994, Dennis Karera – top delegate to the 1991 peace talks, Aloysie Inyumba – head of finance, Charles Murigande – representative in Washington during the war, Emmanuel Ndahiro –personal physician to the leader Paul Kagame, and Wilson Rutaysire – member of the executive committee and later minister of information (5).

His research findings compliment that which this author has acquired in his own interviews with other RPF dissidents in Belgium. Relations between the RPF and the population of the northern regions were hostile from the outset. Instead of attempting to win local people over, the RPF launched offensives that drove hundreds of thousands of people off their land and into internal displacement camps. Each offensive prompted retaliatory attacks against Tutsi civilians. By the end of the RPF’s largest offensive of February 1993 a million Rwandans were displaced. The impact was felt throughout this small country, and Rwandan society consequently polarised. The fact that the RPF membership was overwhelmingly Tutsi inevitably led to a targeting of non-combatant Tutsi families, and intensified anti-Tutsi racism. Having witnessed the effects of these offensives at first hand, the RPF could not have been in any doubt about the likely consequences that any further military attacks on their part would have.

The RPF’s ability to wage war and continue planning ever more forceful offensives while negotiating peace owes to its astute military and political acumen that recognised and exploited the possibilities that were open to them, thanks to the conducive international environment in which they operated. Vital and continuous support was given to the RPF by the Ugandan government of Yoweri Museveni. Museveni was in turn able to provide this support (and maintain his denial that he was so doing) because of the close relations he enjoyed with the United States government. The RPF’s own direct contacts with the United States provided them with insights as to how to utilise human rights-based arguments to legitimise its war. Through successfully demonising the Habyarimana regime on the grounds of its human rights abuses, the RPF was able to obscure its own human rights record, and, more importantly, win sympathy within the international community for its war. This support was given despite the absence of justification for the RPF’s war, despite the obvious human suffering generated by the war, and despite the fear and hostility of local people toward the RPF in the war zone and its periphery.

By early 1992, the war had turned in the RPF’s favour. By the end of its February 1993 offensive, it was demonstrably the stronger military power. With the signing of the Arusha Accords, the RPF was also set to become the strongest political force in the proposed transitional government. The RPF’s greatest weakness was the extent of its unpopularity within Rwandan society as a whole, which would undoubtedly have become evident had the scheduled elections taken place.

By the end of 1993, there was a stark asymmetry between the strength of support between the RPF and influential sections of the international community on the one hand, and the lack of support given to the RPF by the overwhelming majority of the Rwandan population on the other. The RPF needed to avoid elections and opt for a military seizure of power. With the long-anticipated departure of the French military from Rwanda, the way was cleared for a military take-over. What was needed was an excuse to resume the war. Allegations concerning the RPF’s assassination of President Habyarimana, by way of shooting down his plane, would, if proven to be true, have shown that the RPF deliberately provoked the killings in order to have an an excuse to resume its war. Since previous political killings had resulted in reprisals against civilians, the assassination of arguably the most prominent figure in Rwandan politics was certain to trigger off mass killings. Mass killings in which Tutsi civilians were singled out would be a plausible justification in the eyes of the international community for the RPF to resume the war. The RPF’s experience to date of influencing the political dispositions of the international human rights community would have helped them to regard this calculation as one that was viable.

What follows is an elaboration of the points made above.

Uganda’s role in the RPF’s war

The leadership of the RPF were the offspring of the exiled Tutsi elite who fled Rwanda in the wake of the overthrow of the colonial order at the time of Rwanda’s independence. During the periods of German and Belgian rule, colonial power had been exercised indirectly through a Tutsi-dominated order. Many of the Tutsis who settled in Uganda played a significant part in the guerrilla war that brought Museveni to power 1986. As a result, some of these exiles rose to senior positions in the Ugandan regime. The RPF invasion of Rwanda from Uganda began on 1st October 1990, while Museveni and Habyarimana were attending a United Nations conference in New York. Uganda denied all knowledge or complicity in the invasion. In a briefing to the defence attaches of foreign embassies on 3rd October, Ugandan army commander Major General Mugisha Muntu, said that the scale of the desertions had caught the army by surprise and the military intelligence staff were ‘highly embarrassed’ (6).

On the same day the Vice Chairman of the National Resistance Movement, Kigongo, issued a statement that the army was sealing the border with Rwanda and that deserters forced to return here would be disarmed, arrested and charged with desertion (7). Yet, according to the Human Rights Watch ‘Arms Watch Project’ there is no evidence that any were arrested.

On the contrary, RPF Commander Paul Kagame travelled often and openly to Kampala where he met with journalists, foreign supporters and diplomats throughout the war, but was never arrested. The project also concluded that there was ‘institutional complicity’ based on findings that ‘…Uganda provided weapons, munitions and other military supplies to the RPF. These included munitions, automatic rifles, mortars, artillery and Soviet-designed Katyusha multiple rocket systems… and that Uganda allowed the rebel movement to use its territory as a sanctuary for the planning of attacks, stockpiling of weapons, raising of funds and movement of troops’ (8).

In a speech the following year, Museveni made this guarded admission, ‘The truth of the matter is that these people conspired, took us by surprise, and went to Rwanda, which was not particularly difficult…. . We had some information that the Banyarwanda in Uganda were up to something, but we shared it with the Rwandan government. They actually had, or should have had, more information because, after all, it was their business, not ours, to follow up who was plotting what.’ (9) Eight years after the event, Museveni admitted his support. He told other heads of state that, while the Banyarwanda in the Ugandan army, the National Resistance Army (NRA), had informed him in advance ‘of their intention to organise to regain their rights in Rwanda’, they had launched the invasion ‘without prior consultation’. Significantly, he continued, even though ‘faced with [a] fait accompli situation by our Rwandan brothers’, Uganda decided ‘to help the Rwandan Patriotic Front materially, so that they are not defeated because that would have been detrimental to the Tutsi people of Rwanda and would not have been good for Uganda’s stability’ (10).

With the signing of the N’Sele ceasefire agreement in July 1992, a commitment was made that all foreign troops would leave Rwanda after the effective establishment of a neutral monitoring group (NMOG), under the auspices of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). President Museveni’s position as chairman of the Organisation of African Unity in 1991 and 1992 helped him render NMOG less than effective in monitoring troop movements across the mountainous border between Uganda and Rwanda. RPF dissidents speak of their military centre of Nakivale, just inside Uganda (11). According to James Gasana, Rwandan Minister of Defence at the time, when the RPF launched their offensive of 8 February 1993 its forces were boosted by three elite battalions of the NRA (12). Gasana alleges that ‘close to 40,000 people of Hutu ethnicity were massacred by the rebels in the prefectures of Ruhengeri and Byumba’ (13).

The role of the United States

The war waged by Uganda and the RPF was facilitated by the United States in various ways. President Museveni was favoured by the United States as the foremost of the representatives of what they viewed as Africa’s ‘new leaders’ (along with Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea). In addition to supporting the style of governance pursued by these leaders, the United States also supported them as proxies in its efforts to deal with the ‘terrorist’ state of Sudan (14). Support for Museveni’s government was reflected in the levels of aid it received and in favoured treatment as far as negotiations on debt payments were concerned. Between 1989 and 1992, the U.S. alone provided almost $183 million in economic aid enabling Uganda to finance the invasion. This sum is as much as all U.S. aid to Uganda over the previous 27 years.’ (15)

Bruce Jones gives the following account of American knowledge of Uganda’s role in the invasion:

‘The fact that the FAR was caught off-guard was in part a function of U.S. intelligence. In December 1989 Habyarimana had asked the U.S. Department of State to verify Rwandan intelligence reports of RPF mobilization along the Ugandan border. Herman Cohen, then assistant secretary of state for African affairs, recalls that he consulted with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which reported it had no intelligence on troop activity in southern Uganda, having ‘turned off’ the CIA’s monitoring presence there. Unwilling to reveal that U.S. intelligence was not watching events in the region, Cohen reported back to Habyarimana that the United States had no intelligence on troop activity, without clarifying why. Evidently, Habyarimana took Cohen at his somewhat disingenuous word. In point of fact, U.S. intelligence sources (‘turned on’ after Habyarimana’s visit) later confirmed what many observers suspected: that the NRA was providing direct support to the RPF inside Uganda, including transporting arms from depots in Kigali [author’s note: this is clearly a mistake, Jones must have meant Kampala] to the border for RPF use, making Ugandan military hospitals accessible to RPF casualties, and keeping civilians clear from strategic crossings into Rwanda, which had previously been unguarded.’ (16) Cohen was later to write that ‘hindsight reveals that RPF preparations in Uganda were hard to miss’ (17).

The invasion took place while presidents Habyarimana and Museveni were in New York attending a United Nations General Assembly debate. Cohen was also there, along with President Bush (senior) and Secretary of State James Baker. In his book, Intervening in Africa: superpower peacekeeping in a troubled continent, Cohen gives an account of how the news of the invasion was received. The annual General Assembly debate began on October 2nd 1990, with the Summit on the Child. It drew an unusually large number of heads of state, including 25 from Africa, all of whom wanted to meet Bush. A coffee morning with Bush was arranged for the African heads of state the following morning at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

‘Afterward, an incredulous Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana told me that in a discussion lasting one hour, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni kept insisting that he knew nothing about the invasion and was not in a position to do anything about it.’…’Later that day, the Belgian ambassador, Herman Dehennin, called to inform me that Museveni had called him with a message for the Belgian government: ‘Please do not send troops to Rwanda to help the Rwandan government cope with the invasion.’ Dehennin also told me that the French ambassador had received a similar call. In other words, Museveni was not such a disinterested bystander after all.’ (18)

The United States was also not a disinterested bystander. While Museveni continued denying his support for the invasion, claiming that the RPF members in the NRA had deserted, the United States made no attempt to put the record straight. It seems that, despite Cohen’s revelations of what he knew, the story of the ‘desertion’ was allowed to become the accepted version, at least for the time being. According to Robert Flaten, American ambassador to Rwanda between December 1990 and December 1993, the US said nothing about the invasion because its embassy in Uganda ‘bought Museveni’s lies about non-involvement.’ (19)

The refusal on the part of the United States to condemn the invasion is revealing when one considers the extent to which it was engaged with promoting democratic reform within Rwanda and in facilitating the return of the Tutsi refugees from Uganda. The RPF justified its invasion by claiming that President Habyarimana was intransigent on these two issues. Many Western observers and journalists echoed this position. However, the United States knew that this claim was disingenuous because of its own involvement. Let us consider first the issue of refugee return.

In February 1988, President Habyarimana visited Uganda to start negotiations on the return of refugees. In a speech in Semuto on 5th February 1988, he stated that the claims of the refugees to return to their country were legitimate and that their continued refugee status was unacceptable (20). A Joint Ministerial Commission was established between Uganda and Rwanda to explore ways of solving the refugee issue. This was followed by a decision by both governments to seek assistance from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to carry out a survey in refugee settlements to determine whether refugees wished to go back to Rwanda or continue staying in Uganda (21). In July 1990, a breakthrough was achieved on the issue between the UNHCR and the governments of Uganda and Rwanda (22).

On 28 September, Habyarimana told the United Nations General Assembly that his government would offer citizenship and travel documents to all Rwandan refugees wherever they were and that it would repatriate all those who wanted to return to Rwanda (23). Rwanda’s minister of agriculture sent teams of agronomists to assess making land available for refugee settlement. Land that was being held for research purposes for the ministry of agriculture was to be acquired for refugee settlement (24). A visit by a delegation of Tutsi refugees was planned for the 25th September, but on that day the visit was cancelled. The reason for the cancellation became evident a few days later, with the RPF’s invasion (25).

Joyce Leader, then assistant secretary to Robert Flaten, the United States ambassador to Rwanda from January 1991 to December 1993, and who was given the job because of her expertise on refugee issues, stated that ‘the right of refugees, mostly Tutsi, to return to Rwanda was one of the principle causes of the RPF invasion….nevertheless, even before the RPF invasion in October 1990, Habyarimana’s government was taking steps with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to plan for the refugee return. Indeed, when the RPF launched its military attack in 1990, plans were in progress for representatives of the refugees in Uganda to return to Rwanda to see for themselves the conditions in Rwanda and to report to their people. This visit, however, never took place as the invasion intervened.’ (26)

Yet, in a statement to a joint hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on African Affairs and the House Subcommittee on African Affairs, Herman Cohen seemed to forget this when he stated that ‘(T)he members of the two Sub-Committees will recall that the crisis in Rwanda did not begin in April, 1994, but in October, 1990 when 3,000 Rwandan Tutsi troops from the Ugandan army invaded their ancestral homeland under the RPF banner. They undertook this operation out of a romantic idea that they could open the doors of Rwanda to the return of several hundred thousand Tutsi refugees who had fled to Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Zaire 25 years earlier. (By decree of the Habyarimana government, the Tutsi refugees were forever prohibited from returning)’ (27).

Let us now consider the issue of Rwanda’s democratic reform process.

In January 1989, Habyarimana declared before the new legislature that there was a need for the reform of the political system. The Secretariat of the MRND was requested to undertake a new study to reform the party in order to make it better equipped to meet the new challenges (28). In addition to these domestic initiatives, French pressure was applied at the Francophone Africa Summit of June 1990, at La Baule, Brittany. At the summit French President Mitterand announced that following the end of the Cold War, the West was urging its partner countries to introduce democratic reforms. He declared France’s willingness to provide military safeguards for the transition process (29).

After La Baule, on July 5th 1990, Habyarimana stated that his ruling party, the Mouvement Révolutionnaire National pour le Développement (MRND) would undergo a revision of its political principles, a kind of aggiornamento, and that the country was going to know a process of democratization by rea

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