Rwanda - Country history and economic development

1894. The first European, German Count Von Geotzen, visits what is present-day Rwanda.

1918. Following World War I, Rwanda becomes a protectorate of the League of Nations under Belgian rule.

1926. The Belgian colonizers issue identity cards distinguishing the Tutsis from the Hutus.

1959. The Hutus rebel against the Belgian colonizers and the Tutsi elite, forcing the Tutsi monarch and more than 150,000 Tutsis to flee the country.

1961. Rwanda is established as a republic. The Party of the Hutu Emancipation Movement (PARMEHUTU) wins a majority of the seats in the National Assembly, and the assembly votes against the return of the Tutsi king.

1962. Belgium grants Rwanda independence, and the PARMEHUTU party changes its name to the Democratic Republican Movement whose leader, Gregoire Kayibanda, becomes the country's president.

1963. Exiled Tutsis unsuccessfully attempt to take over Rwanda, and the Hutus respond by massacring the Tutsis.

1973. General Juvenal Habyarimana topples President Kayibanda, accusing him of favoring southern Hutus, and suspends all political activities.

1975. Habyarimana creates the National Revolutionary Movement for Development (MRND) as the country's lone political party.

1978. President Habyarimana is given another 5-year term in single-party elections and a new constitution is ratified. Habyarimana is reelected in 1983 and 1988.

1989. Coffee prices plummet, famine increases, and the country turns to the World Bank for assistance. Following a World Bank reform plan, Rwanda liberalizes trade, divests state enterprises, devalues the Rwandan franc, and reduces government subsidies .

1990. Central African nations and Belgium send troops to Rwanda to help the Habyarimana regime defend itself against an attack from a rebel group of Tutsi exiles from Uganda.

1991. A new constitution is ratified that states Rwanda is a multiparty democracy.

1992. The price of coffee continues to plummet and Rwandan coffee trees are uprooted because coffee growers are unable to earn a living. The World Bank imposes more privatization, with proceeds going to service Rwanda's external debt . Ethnic tensions between Hutus and Tutsis rise.

1994. President Habyarimana dies after his plane is shot down. The Hutus set out to massacre all Tutsis within the country, and hundreds of thousands of Tutsis are killed. An external Tutsi rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, takes control of Rwanda, and forms the Transitional Government of National Unity to oversee a return to normalcy.

1996. The Rwandan government tacitly supports a rebel, Laurent Kabila, from Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) to assist in securing Rwanda's border from the Interhamwe and ex-FAR operating from the Congo. Rwanda backs Kabila's efforts to overthrow the government of the Congo. At the same time, huge numbers of refugees who had fled during 1994 return to the country.

1998. President Kabila expels Rwanda's forces from the Congo and Rwanda in turn supports rebel groups in the Congo seeking Kabila's ouster.

2000. Major General Paul Kagame, a Tutsi, is elected president of Rwanda in a special parliamentary vote, but the government is still considered to be in transition.

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