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The Arusha Accords (also known as the Arusha Peace Agreement, or Arusha negotiations) were a set of five accords (or protocols) signed in Arusha, Tanzania on August 4, 1993, by the government of Rwanda and the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), under mediation, to end a three-year Rwandan Civil War. Organized by the United States, France and the Organisation of African Unity, the talks began on July 12, 1992, and lasted until June 24, 1993, with a final week-long meeting in Rwanda, July 19 to July 25, 1993.
The Arusha Accords established a Broad-Based Transitional Government (BBTG), including the insurgent Rwandese Patriotic Front and the five political parties that had composed a temporary government since April 1992 in anticipation of general elections. The Accords included other points considered necessary for lasting peace: the rule of law, repatriation of refugees both from fighting and from power sharing agreements, and the merging of government and rebel armies.
Of twenty-one cabinet posts in the transitional government, the Mouvement Républicain National pour la Démocratie et le Développement, the former ruling party, was given five, including the Defence portfolio. The Rwandese Patriotic Front got the same number, including the portfolio of the Interior and the role of Vice-Prime Minister. The major opposition party, the Mouvement Démocratique Républicain, was given four posts, including the office of Prime Minister, assigned to Faustin Twagiramungu. The Parti Social Démocrate and the Parti Libéral were each given three portfolios, while the Parti Démocrate Chrétien was given one. It is important to note that, because of political impasse and preparations by hardliners towards the genocide that would occur in April 1994, the Arusha Accord never created a broad based transitional government, so although each group was to be given different cabinet portfolios, this never materialized. Juvénal Habyarimana and the MRND stalled the negotiations.
The Rwandan Patriotic Front was granted participation in the national assembly. The Accords also provided for establishment of a military composed of sixty percent government troops and forty percent from the Rwandan Patriotic Front.
It was agreed that the transitional government and national assembly would be established no more than thirty-seven days after the signing of the Accords. The transitional period was limited to twenty-two months, after which general elections would be held.
The delegations signed the protocol on August 3, 1993, and President Habyarimana and RPF president Alexis Kanyarengwe signed the following day.
Intended as a negotiation for the sharing of power between the rebels and the Rwandan government, the talks produced an agreement that favored the Rwandese Patriotic Front because of disagreements within the government. The opposition Foreign Minister, Boniface Ngulinzira, rather than Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana, led the government delegation, and Habyarimana repeatedly vetoed the delegation's decisions. The Arusha Accords stripped many powers from the office of the President, transferring them to the transitional government. Some observers stated that President Habyarimana never intended to abide by the outcome of the talks: in November 1992, midway through the talks, Habyarimana referred to the Arusha Accords as "pieces of paper". Hutu racial nationalists aligned with President Habyarimana continued to be strongly opposed both to sharing power with the former insurgency and to the Accords, which called for them to lose control of the army and the government without compensation.
On October 5, 1993, the United Nations Security Council commissioned Resolution 872 (1993), which established the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR). Its objective was assistance in and supervision of implementation of the Arusha Accords. The initial UN presence was 2,548 military personnel, largely Belgian soldiers. The head of the mission was Jacques-Roger Booh-Booh.
On April 6, 1994 the airplane of Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira (also a Hutu) was shot down as it flew towards the Kigali airport. Responsibility for the attack is a matter of contention, with both the Hutu extremists and the RPF under suspicion. The assassination was a catalyst for the Rwandan Genocide. It was one of several assassinations that occurred with similar political motives as moderates were targeted by the CDR, the hardline faction once part of the MRND. Soldiers of UNAMIR were present before, during, and after the violence. The limitations of the UN, due to national sovereignty and the need to remain impartial when conducting Chapter 6 peacekeeping operations, led to the impotence of UNAMIR to do anything more than bear witness to the genocide. International powers such as France, the UK and the US did not have the political motivation to send troops or financial support for UNAMIR, although many of these countries were able to remove their foreign nationals from danger.
- Dallaire, Romeo (2004). Shake Hands with the Devil.
- Melvern, Linda (2000). A people betrayed: the role of the West in Rwanda's genocide (ill. ed.). Zed Books. ISBN 978-1-85649-831-9.
- Tracing the roots of the Accords Details international pressure leading to the Arusha talks, the talks themselves, and their failed implementation.
- Undercurrent Journal analysis An argument that the 163 articles of the Arusha Accords could have been adjusted to create a consensus supporting them.
- The United Nations page on UNAMIR, including the mandate, background, facts and figures, etc.