National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development
|Succeeded by||Forces for the Defense of Democracy
(not legal successor)
Hutu Power Radio (Radio)
|Political position||Right-wing to Far-right|
The National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (Mouvement républicain national pour la démocratie et le développement) was the ruling political party of Rwanda from 1975 to 1994 under President Juvénal Habyarimana. Between 1975 and 1991, when it was known as the National Revolutionary Movement for Development (French: Mouvement Révolutionaire National pour le Développement, MRND), the MRND was the only legal political party in the country. It was dominated by Hutus, particularly from President Juvenal Habyarimana's home region of Northern Rwanda. The elite group of MRND party members who were known to have influence on the President and his wife – as well as to be responsible for the planning of the Rwandan Genocide – are known as the akazu.
The party was established by Habyarimana in 1975, following his 1973 coup that ousted the first post-independence president Grégoire Kayibanda and the banning of his Parmehutu party, which had been dominated by Hutus from southern Rwanda. The MRND succeeded the Parmehutu in its position of the dominant state party. A new constitution was approved in a 1978 referendum, making the country a one-party state in which every citizen had to belong to the MRND.
Presidential elections were held in 1978 with Habyarimana as the sole candidate. He was re-elected with 99% of the vote. Parliamentary elections followed in 1981, with two MRND candidates contesting each of the 64 seats. Habyarimana was re-elected again in 1983 and 1988, whilst parliamentary elections were held under the same system in 1983 (with the National Assembly enlarged to 70 seats) and 1988.
The party's name was changed after the legalisation of opposition parties in 1991. The youth wing of the party, the interahamwe, later developed into a militia group that played a key role in the Rwandan Genocide. After Habyarimana's death in April 1994, hardline elements of the party were among the chief architects of the genocide; the Coalition for the Defence of the Republic (CDR), which played a significant role, was originally a hard-line faction of the MRND that became a separate party.
Habyarimana was described as relatively moderate, though he (and his regime) are said to have used propaganda methods of the extreme right, ethnically discriminating against the Tutsi (albeit less extreme than their predecessors), advanced a conservative social agenda and were anti-communist.
The party had institutional structures that paralleled the government structures at each level, down to the sector and cell. Habyarimana was the president of the party, and as such was the only candidate for president of the republic. However, in a minor concession to democracy, voters were presented with two MRND candidates at Legislative Assembly elections. After the RPF invasion in 1990, members of the MRND created the magazine Kangura.
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