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Wednesday, 8 March, 2000, 22:23 GMT
New Rwandan prime minister named
pierre-celestin rwigema
Prime Minister Pierre-Celestin Rwigema who has resigned
By Chris Simpson in Kigali

President Pasteur Bizimungu has appointed Bernard Makuza, currently the ambassador to Germany, as Rwanda's new prime minister.

Mr Makuza takes over the job nine days after departure of his predecessor Pierre-Celestin Rwigema who resigned after coming under fierce criticism in both the press and in the Rwandan parliament.

Like Mr Rwigema, Barnard Makuza is from the predominantly Hutu democratic republican movement, the MDR.

Mr Makuzu is likely to find himself heading a new ministerial team - government sources having hinted that an important cabinet reshuffle has already been prepared.

Mr Makuzu's two predecessors both resigned from the post in controversial circumstances.

Smeared

Faustin Twagiramungu fled Rwanda in 1995 and has since run a political campaign against the government from exile in Belgium.

Pierre-Celestin Rwigema stepped down last month saying he had been smeared and victimised in both parliament and the national press.

Like the two previous prime ministers, Mr. Makuza is from the predominantly Hutu democratic republican movement, the MDR and was a party choice.

The MDR was a powerful force in Rwandan politics in the years leading up to the genocide of 1994 but was heavily split between Hutu extremists and a much more liberal wing.

A government source said Mr Makuza had been a prominent moderate lucky to escape with his life in 1994.

Mr Makuza re-enters domestic politics at a difficult time for Rwanda. Along with the departure of Prime Minister Rwigema, the past few months have seen the resignation and flight of the speaker of parliament, Joseph Sabarenzi and a wave of speculation about so-called negative forces working against the current government including a royalist faction wanting to restore the Rwandan monarchy.

The recent assassination of a presidential advisor outside his home, has also raised questions about security in the capital Kigali and the use of violence to settle grievances.

Vice-president Paul Kagame recently berated reporters for exaggerating Rwanda's problems, pointing out the country was in a difficult phase of transition and Rwandans needed to find more permanent institutions to govern their lives.

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See also:

06 Mar 00 |  Africa
'Assassination' in Kigali
28 Feb 00 |  Africa
Rwandan PM resigns
18 Mar 99 |  Africa
Eyewitness: Rwanda's survivors
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