Topic: Juvenal Habyarimana

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Juvénal Habyarimana (March 8, 1937 – April 6, 1994) was President of the Republic of Rwanda from 1973 until 1994. During his 20-year rule he favored his own ethnic group, the Hutus, and supported the Hutu majority in neighboring Burundi against the Tutsi government. On April 6, 1994, he was killed when his airplane, also carrying the President of Burundi, Cyprien Ntaryamira, was shot down close to Kigali International Airport. His assassination ignited ethnic tensions in the region and helped spark the Rwandan Genocide.

On July 5 1973, while serving as defense minister, Habyarimana seized power by overthrowing Grégoire Kayibanda and ousted the then-ruling Parmehutu party. In 1975, he created the Mouvement Révolutionaire National pour le Développement as the country's only legal party. The government stayed almost entirely in military hands until 1978, when a new constitution was approved in a referendum. At the same time, Habyarimana was elected to a five-year term as president as the only candidate. He was reelected in single-candidate elections in 1983 and 1989. However, in 1990, he dismantled the one-party state and allowed the formation of other parties.

Habyarimana's closest advisers were his wife Agathe and the akazu ("little house"), an informal group of Hutu extremists from his home province.

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