Pasteur Bizimungu

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Pasteur Bizimungu
President of Rwanda
In office
19 July 1994 – 23 March 2000
Preceded by Théodore Sindikubwabo
Succeeded by Paul Kagame
Personal details
Born 1950
Gisenyi, Rwanda
Political party Rwandan Patriotic Front (1990-2000)
Party for Democratic Renewal (2001- )
Spouse(s) Serafina Bizimungu

Pasteur Bizimungu (born 1950) was the fifth President of Rwanda, holding office from 19 July 1994 until 23 March 2000.

Early life[edit]

A Hutu, Bizimingu was born in the Gisenyi prefecture of Rwanda.[1] According to the academic Filip Reyntjens, Bizimungu had ties to radical anti-Tutsi groups as a student in the 1970s, but later joined the RPF. He served as President of Rwanda after the 1994 Genocide.

Relationship to MRND[edit]

In the 1980s and '90s, Bizimungu worked within the Hutu MRND government which ruled Rwanda until 1994. Prior to 1990, Bizimungu had close ties to Hutu president Juvénal Habyarimana.[2] During this period, he held several positions, including director-general of Electrogaz, the national electricity company.[1]

In 1990 he joined the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) after his brother, a colonel in the Rwandan Armed Forces, was murdered.[3] At the time, the RPF was just beginning its invasion of Rwanda from Uganda.[1] Bizimungu lived in exile in Belgium, serving as the party's information officer.[4] In 1993, he helped negotiate the 1993 Arusha Accords, ending the three-year Rwandan Civil War.[1]

After Habyarimana's death in a plane crash on 6 April 1994, ethnic extremists unleashed the Rwandan Genocide.


In July 1994 the RPF gained control of the country and established a national unity government. The RPF leader, Paul Kagame, was chosen as vice president, and Bizimungu became president.

During Bizimungu's administration, many believed that he was merely a figurehead, and Kagame held the real power.[3] Bizimungu soon found himself in conflict with Kagame over what Bizimungu argued was unjustified repression of dissent.[1] Critics accused Bizimungu of corruption, alleging that he had blocked Parliament's attempts to censure corrupt ministers, refused to pay compensation to evicted residents on one of his building sites, and dodged Rwandan taxes by registering two of his trucks in the Democratic Republic of Congo.[3]

Bizimungu resigned in March 2000 in a dispute over the make-up of a new cabinet, and Kagame became president.[4]

Party for Democratic Renewal[edit]

In May 2001, Bizimungu founded a new political party, the Party for Democratic Renewal (PDR), known as Ubuyanja in Kinyarwanda. It was almost immediately banned by the government, which accused it of being a radical Hutu party. Bizimungu was arrested, and Amnesty International named him a prisoner of conscience.[5]

He was placed under house arrest for continuing the operations of the party on 19 April 2002 and charged with endangering the state. On 7 June 2004 he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for attempting to form a militia, inciting violence, and embezzlement. He received a five-year sentence for each of these convictions, which were to run consecutively.[1]

On 17 February 2006, Bizimungu's appeal, based on the fact that he was convicted of crimes different from those with which he was initially charged, was denied by the Supreme Court.[6]

He was released on 6 April 2007, having been pardoned by Kagame. Kagame gave no explanation of the pardon.[4] As of April 2011, PDR co-founder and later co-defendant Charles Ntakirutinka remained in prison, and was named an Amnesty International "priority case."[7]


Bizimungu's wife is Séraphine Utamuliza. He has one son, and two daughters, Alexander Tabera, Nicole Tamara, and Carine Cyuzuzo. [1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "From president to prison". BBC News. 7 June 2004. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  2. ^ "The Three Victors Who Will Lead Rwanda". The New York Times. 20 July 1994. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c "Analysis: Why Bizimungu mattered". BBC News. 23 March 2008. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c Arthur Asiimwe (6 April 2007). "Rwanda's ex-president freed from prison". Reuters. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  5. ^ "Rwanda: Number of prisoners of conscience on the rise". Amnesty International. 7 June 2002. Retrieved 22 January 2012. 
  6. ^ "Rwanda's ex-leader loses appeal". BBC News. 17 February 2006. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 
  7. ^ "Charles Ntakirutinka, prisoner of conscience". Amnesty International. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Théodore Sindikubwabo
President of Rwanda
19 July 1994 – 23 March 2000
Succeeded by
Paul Kagame