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Party of the Hutu Emancipation Movement
Parti du Mouvement de l'Emancipation Hutu
Abbreviation Parmehutu
Founder Grégoire Kayibanda
Founded June 1957 (1957-06)
Dissolved July 1973 (1973-08)
Succeeded by Republican Democratic Movement (1991)
Headquarters Kigali, Rwanda
Ideology Hutu supremacy[1] Auturky, Anti-colonialist, Anti-Tutsi

The Party of the Hutu Emancipation Movement (French: Parti du Mouvement de l'Emancipation Hutu, Parmehutu), also known as the Republican Democratic Movement – Parmehutu (Mouvement démocratique republicain – Parmehutu, MDR-Parmehutu), was a political party in Rwanda. The movement emphasised the emancipation of Hutus who had been enslaved by Tutsis for 400 years. Just like the civil rights movement in the USA, Parmehutu fought for equality and social justice. Parmehutu was the most important party of the "Hutu Revolution" of 1959–61 that led to Rwanda becoming an independent republic and Hutus gaining equality and roles in the higher echelons of government.[1]


The party was founded by Grégoire Kayibanda in June 1957 as the Hutu Social Movement, a party of Hutu nationalists who fought for the emancipation of the oppressed Hutu majority. It was renamed on 25 September 1959, and dominated the local elections in 1960, winning 2,390 of 3,125 elected communal council seats and 160 of 229 burgomasters.[2]

In 1961, parliamentary elections were held alongside a referendum on the Tutsi monarchy of Mwami Kigeri V. MDR-Parmehutu won 35 of the 44 seats in the Legislative Assembly, whilst the referendum saw the end of the monarchy. Kayibanda appointed a government of Hutus, and became president after independence in July 1962. By 1965, it was the only legal party in the country, and the 1965 elections saw Kayibanda run unopposed for the presidency and the party win all 47 National Assembly seats.

Under the Parmehutu rule Tutsis were severely discriminated against, persecuted and repeatedly massacred,[3] leading to hundreds of thousands of Tutsi fleeing the country. The 1963 Tutsi massacres were described by Bertrand Russell as the worst since the Holocaust; in 1967 another 20,000 Tutsi were killed.[4]

In the July 1973 coup, Kayibanda was ousted by his cousin Major-General Juvénal Habyarimana who, like other leaders from Rwanda's north (abakonde), felt marginalised by the Southern-dominated Parmehutu regime.[5] The Parmehutu party was suspended and was officially banned two years later when Rwanda became a one-party state under Habyarimana's new National Revolutionary Movement for Development (MRND), which was dominated by Hutu from the northern and northwestern parts of the country.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Niesen, Peter (2013). Political party bans in Rwanda 1994–2003: three narratives of justification. Ethnic Party Bans in Africa. Routledge. p. 113. 
  2. ^ Somerville, Keith (2012). Radio Propaganda and the Broadcasting of Hatred: Historical Development and Definitions. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 164. 
  3. ^ Mckinney, Stephanie L. (2012). Narrating genocide on the streets of Kigali. The Heritage of War. Routledge. p. 160–161. 
  4. ^ Aspegren, Lennart (2006). Never again?: Rwanda and the World. Human Rights Law: From Dissemination to Application — Essays in Honour of Göran Melander. The Raoul Wallenberg Institute human rights library. 26. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. p. 172–173. ISBN 9004151818. 
  5. ^ Somerville, p167