Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
While serving as defense minister, he overthrew his cousin Grégoire Kayibanda on July 5, 1973. During his 20-year dictatorship he favored his own ethnic group, the Hutus, and supported the Hutu majority in neighboring Burundi against the Tutsi government. He was the leader of the Mouvement Républicain Nationale pour la Démocratie et le Développement party. In the early 1990s a rebellion against the Rwandan government began when rebels from the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), a mostly Tutsi group, crossed the border from Uganda.
Habyarimana was killed in a plane crash along with Cyprien Ntaryamira, the president of Burundi, on April 6, 1994. Some now allege that the plane had been shot down on orders from the current President Paul Kagame, while he was leader of the RPF. Following the death of Habyarimana, Hutus who believed that his government had been too moderate took over the government and began a genocide against opponents. Within four months, 936,000 Rwandans were massacred in the Rwandan Genocide, mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
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