The constitution of December 1978 provided for a unitary republic with executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The executive was headed by a president elected for a five-year term who presided over the council of ministers and was commander in chief of the armed forces. The secretary-general of the National Revolutionary Movement for Development, the sole legal political party, was empowered to act in the president's stead in the case of incapacity. The president shared legislative power with the country's unicameral legislature, the National Development Council, which consisted of 70 members.
A new constitution was adopted on 18 June 1991. It legalized independent parties. The executive branch consisted of an elected president and a prime minister and a Council of Ministers chosen from the legislature. The unicameral legislature continued the name, National Development Council.
The 4 August 1993 Peace Accord signed with the RPF called for a 22-month transition period leading to multiparty elections and the establishment of several new institutions. By 1994, the Rwandan patriotic Front had established control of the country, instituting a government of national unity, headed by President Pasteur Bizimungu, himself a Hutu.
In May 1995, the 70-seat transitional national assembly (TNA) created a new constitution. In early 2000 Bizimungu resigned, accusing the Tutsi-controlled parliament of unfairly investigating his allies on corruption charges. The vice president, Paul Kigame was inaugurated 22 April 2000, the country's first Tutsi president since independence from Belgium in 1962. In 2001 four additional seats—two for women and two for youth—were added to the TNA.