Rwanda: Former Rwandan Prime Minister Faustin Twagiramungu Has Died, at 78 years old

Faustin Twagiramungu on a political campaign in Rwanda, on September 8, 2003

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Sources in Brussels, Belgium told AfroAmerica Network that Faustin Twagiramugu, a former Prime Minister of Rwanda who was a refugee in Belgium, has passed away. According to the sources, he died from short illness.  

Faustin Twagiramungu was born in Cyangugu, Rwanda on August 14, 1945. He is well known as the son-in-law of the former Rwandan President  Grégoire Kayibanda and Rwandan political leader. Grégoire Kayibanda was a Rwandan politician and revolutionary who was the first elected President of Rwanda from 1962 to 1973. An ethnic Hutu,  Grégoire Kayibanda  was a pioneer of the Rwandan Revolution and led Rwanda's struggle for independence from Belgium, replacing the Tutsi monarchy with a republican form of government.

Political  Journey.

Faustin Twagiramungu went to  study in Canadian universities in Quebec, Canada in 1968 and returned to Rwanda in 1976.  In Rwanda he managed a government owned international transport company, known as Société des Transports Internationaux au Rwanda (STIR).
In 1991, when the former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana introduced the multi-party, Faustin Twagiramungu relaunched the party, Mouvement Democratic Republicain (MDR),  co-founded and led by his late father-in-law  Grégoire Kayibanda, before his government was overthrown in a military coup in 1973.
During the Rwanda civil war of 1990-1994, Faustin Twagiramugu allied with the rebels of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). 
When the RPF took power in 1994, after allegedly assassinating the former Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and the former Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira, the RPF leaders appointed Faustin Twagiramungu as the Prime Minister.
Based on their agreement, the government led by Faustin Twagiramungu was due to last for five years before the general elections were held.

As soon as he became Prime Minister,  he started criticizing  the RPF leadership for systematic massacres of Hutu civilians across the entire county.
Due to his criticisms, in 1995, just after one year as the Prime Minister, he was forced to resign by the commander of the RPF army,  the current Rwandan dictator General Paul Kagame, who was then acting as Vice-President and the de facto country leader. 

Due to continued threats and harassments by the RPF leaders and military commanders, Faustin Twagiramungu then quickly fled to Belgium after resigning.  After he fled to Belgium, General Paul Kagame  extended the period  before the general elections from 5 to nine years.


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Exile, Death Threats, and Political Activism.

In 1997,  in Brussels, Belgium, Faustin Twagiramungu and Seth Sendashonga, another disillusioned Rwandan who had joined the Rwandan Patriotic Front,  launched  an exiled opposition party called the Democratic Forces for Resistance (FRD).

On May 16, 1998, Seth Sendashonga, who had survived an earlier attempts on his life for denouncing systematic massacres of  civilians in Rwanda and the region  by Rwandan Patriotic Army, was assassinated in Nairobi, a murder committed by  the Rwandan government of culpability. In  fact, in 2001, a Kenyan court found that the murder of Seth Sendashonga was political and blamed the agents working for the Rwandan government.
 In 2003,  eight years after fleeing to  Belgium,  Faustin Twagiramungu, believing that the security and political situation had improved , returned to Rwanda run for the presidency as an independent candidate. 
 Once on the ground, he found out that the political situation and human rights in Rwanda had rather worsened. He was not allowed to freely run his political campaigns and was, in the end declared, the looser of the elections, with  less than 4% while General Paul Kagame was declared the winner with 95% of the votes. 

Fearing retaliations and potential assassination due to open his questioning of electoral process and results, he fled again to Belgium, where he has lived until his passing.

Once back in Belgium, he continued his political activism. He founded an political opposition party to the Rwandan Patriotic Front government. The pary, known as  Rwandan Dream Initiative (RDI-Rwanda Nziza). In 2013 there were rumors that he wanted to return to politics in Rwanda.  On April 4,  2014, only two days after Paul Kagame had visited Brussels, Belgium,  Faustin Twagiramungu was informed by the Belgian police and state security that his life was in danger. He and his family members were  provided with police protection for several days.  Later, the international media, including The Globe and Mail reported that "there is mounting evidence that Mr. Kagame's agents are involved in organized efforts to kill exiled dissidents".

Since then, he has been active on social media, political activities, and other social events, focusing on the political, human rights, and social situation in Rwanda and the Great Lakes Region of Africa.

 He died in Brussels, Belgium on December 2, 2023, at the age of 78, surrounded by his family.

@AfroAmerica Network 2023



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