Kigeli V Ndahindurwa, the last Tutsi Monarch of Rwanda, died on Sunday, October 16, 2016. He has been living in exile in the US since early 1990's, where he applied for a political asylum in 1992, after criss-crossing Eastern African countries, from Congo, Tanzania, Burundi, Uganda, to Kenya.
Kigeli, who was driven into exile less than a year into his reign, became the monarch of Rwanda in 1959 after his half-brother, Mutara III Rudahigwa, died suddenly under mysterious circumstances. Mutara Rudahirwa, having no children, left the throne to his half brother in a contested succession, that some at the court viewed as not compliant with the usual Rwandan royal customs. Kigeli Ndahindurwa's reign also coincided with a wave of independence movements across Africa and the rising discontent among the majority ethnic Hutus, maintained under a virtual slavery by both the
Belgian Colonial power and the Tutsi monarchy. Hutus overthrew the monarchy after the 1959 Hutu revolution. Kigeli Ndahindurwa was overthrown as King in January 1961, when Rwandan masses, in a United Nations sponsored referendum, with huge turnout of 95%, voted to abolish the monarchy; 80% of voters rejected the monarchy and the Kingdom, opting for a Republic.
Kigeli Ndahindurwa, complaining that the elections were rigged, with the complicity of Belgium, returned to Rwanda to reclaim his throne. Belgian colonial administrators placed him under house arrest, and later deported him to Tanzania in October 1961
In 1994, when a group of Tutsis, mostly descendants of those from Kigali V Ndahidurwa's courtiers and army troops took over power in Rwanda, there were speculations and rumors of the imminent return of Kigeli to Rwanda. However, in public statements and media, Kigeli Ndahindurwa maintained his stance of returning to Rwanda as a King and only if the people decided to reestablish the Tutsi monarchy. On several occasions, he confirmed accounts of having communications with the current Rwandan leader, General Paul Kagame. According to sources that participated to those conversations, General Paul Kagame, whose parents and grand parents were the pillars of the Tutsi monarchy, invited Kigeli Ndahindurwa to return to Rwanda, but a as simple citizen. Kigeli Ndahindurwa rejected the offer.
Kigeli Ndahindurwa has been, on several occasions, mentioned of being links with some political movements opposed to the current Rwandan government. He has consistently denied such associations, claiming to be the King of all Rwandans. He was especially linked to the Rally of the Rwandan People (RPR - Inkeragutabara), based in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and mostly composed of Tutsis, who defected from the ruling Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). RPR with Rally for Unity and Democracy (RUD-Urunana), have created a coalition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Some leaders of NDC contacted for this story did not confirm or deny having contacts with Kigeli V Ndahindurwa, only saying that they were "saddened by the death of another Rwandan, especially a patriarch, in exile, because of General Kagame's regime that has denied to Rwandans like him across the World, their basic rights to live in their country."