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Africa 2006,

The original inhabitants of Rwanda were the Pygmies or Twa, today numbering barely 1% of the total population. The simple version of history has the Tutsi (Nilotic) cattle breeders arriving in the area from the 15th Century and subjugating the Hutu inhabitants. In reality, the situation is much more complex as boundaries of race and class became less distinct over the years as a result of intermingling. Some put part of the blame for the racial animosity that led to the recent mass-scale killings on the shoulders of German and Belgian colonial rulers who pitched the Hutu against Tutsi for their own gain. When Burundi and neighboring Rwanda were incorporated into German East Africa in 1899, they had been kingdoms for several centuries headed by mwamis (kings). After Germany's defeat in World War I these nations were transferred to Belgium under the joint name of Ruanda-Urundi. They were, however, "separated at birth" when they gained their independence in 1962. After periodic outbursts of violence, conciliation between Hutu and Tutsi leaders finally seemed to be in the making when Pres. Juvenal Habyarimana, under international and domestic pressure, be gan reforms in 1994. The reform process was, however, short-lived as Habyarimana perished in an aircraft downed by a rocket near Kigali on 6 April 1994, along with the president of neighboring Burundi. The next day, the Rwandan government mobilized the country's ethnic Hutu majority in a genocide against the Tutsi and moderate Hutus, a campaign that claimed over 500,000 lives in under one hundred days. Maj. Gen. Paul Kagame and his Tutsi-dominated multi-ethnic Front Patriotique Rwandais or Rwanda Patriotic Front (FPR) invaded from Uganda and defeated the Rwanda regime in July 1994. Shortly afterwards, Kagame was appointed Vice President and Defense Minister, and in March 2000 he was sworn in as President. The FPR formed a coalition government with Paul Kagame as a Tutsi serving as president and Bernard Makuza, leader of the Hutudominated Mouvement Démocra-tique Républicain or Republican Democratic Movement (MDR), appointed prime minister. Although much of the country is now at peace, members of the former regime continue their efforts to destabilize the northwest area of the country.