|3rd Prime Minister of Burundi|
19 October 1961 –7 June 1963
|Preceded by||Louis Rwagasore|
|Succeeded by||Pierre Ngendandumwe|
|Minister of Interior of Burundi|
September 1961 –October 1961
|Preceded by||Jean-Baptiste Ntidendereza|
|Succeeded by||Jean Ntiruhama|
|Died||28 April 2003|
|Spouse(s)||Rose Paula Iribagiza|
AndréMuhirwa (1920 –April 28,2003) was a Burundian politician as a member of the Union for National Progress (Union pour le Progrès national,UPRONA) and the third Prime Minister of Burundi from 19 October 1961 to 7 June 1963. His term coincided with Burundi's independence.
AndréMuhirwa was born in 1920 in Murete,Ruanda-Urundi. He was the son of Mbanzabugabo,a prominent chief.He belonged to the Batare lineage of the Ganwa ethnicity. Following the death of his father in 1930 and his protests over the former's appointed successor,the Belgian Residency forced him into exile with his brothers in Tanganyika. Muhirwa and his brothers returned to Burundi in late 1931. With the assistance of a Catholic priest, he studied at the Groupe Scolaire de Astrida,graduating in 1942. From then until 1944 he served as a clerk in the Bururi District Office.
In 1944 Muhirwa was granted the small chiefdom of Buhumuza in the Ruyigi territory. The chiefdom was distant from his place of origin,and he later recounted in an interview that while presiding over it he felt as if he were still in exile.In 1952 he married Rose Paula Iribagiza,the daughter of the Mwami (king) of Burundi,Mwambutsa IV of Burundi. The marriage was part of a deal struck by Muhirwa with the monarchy to assume his father's chiefdom,with the assistance of Chiefs Ntitendereza and Barusasiyeko. He was granted the chiefdom the following year. Afterwards he became a staunch supporter of Bezi lineage Ganwa and grew close to the monarchy. He retained good relations with the Mwami even after he separated from Iribagiza.
In 1958 Muhirwa became a supporter of Crown Prince Louis Rwagasore and later joined the Union for National Progress (Union pour le Progrès national,UPRONA)—Rwagosore's political party—becoming its vice-president. In October 1960 he fled Urundi and went to Tanganyika,but returned in August 1961 to help Rwagosore prepare UPRONA for the 1961 elections. Following UPRONA's victory in September,Rwagosore appointed Muhirwa as Minister of the Interior in his government.On 13 October Rwagosore was assassinated,and Muhirwa was appointed Prime Minister of Burundi to replace him on 19 October. The Legislative Assembly gave him its confidence in a vote,50 to two. Jean Ntiruhama replaced him as Minister of Interior. Muhirwa subsequently accused the Belgian administration,namely Governor-General Jean-Paul Harroy,of being complicit in Rwagasore's murder. At the Legislative Assembly's session on 22 October Muhirwa,citing the distraction of "recent events",declined to offer a government program and the body sat aimlessly for the next few months.
The death of Rwagosore stoked divisions in UPRONA,and fueled a rivalry between Muhirwa and a Hutu politician,Paul Mirerekano. Both claimed to be the heirs to the late prime minister's legacy and both sought to become president of UPRONA in his wake.Muhirwa initially claimed the presidency,arguing that since he had taken over Rwagasore's place in government he was entitled to lead the party. Mirerekano contested this on the grounds that Rwagasore had made him interim party president in mid-1961. A caucus of several UPRONA leaders met on 4 July 1962 to settle the dispute and confirmed Muhirwa's ascension to the party presidency. Mirerekano refused to concede,and at the Mwami's intervention,an UPRONA mass congress was held in September,which led to both men being assigned vice presidencies in the party. The leadership dispute led to the coalescing of two factions in the party,with Muhirwa leading the "Casablanca group" and Mirekano leading the "Monrovia group". The former was generally anti-West in its political orientation,while the latter took a more moderate stance on the West.
"The Government of Urundi seeks independence, not just autonomy. It wants to be responsible and knows that it can be."
Muhirwa to the United Nations Trusteeship Council, 13 June 1962
As prime minister, Muhirwa opposed the retention of Belgian troops in Urundi following the colony's independence.He attended ceremonies to mark the independence of the Kingdom of Burundi on 1 July 1962, and subsequently submitted Burundi's request for membership to the United Nations. He also signed the promulgation order for the new Constitution of the Kingdom of Burundi alongside Mwambutsa and Minister of Justice Claver Nuwinkware.
During his tenure, Mwambutsa increasingly involved himself in national politics.In March 1963 Muhirwa ordered the arrest of three Monrovia leaders—including the President of the Legislative Assembly—for allegedly conspiring against the government, but the Mwami intervened and ordered their release. On 1 June, Muhirwa announced his appointment of a new Minister of Public Works. This prompted the Mwami to deny the selection, arguing that the crown was entitled to choose its ministers. On 7 June a motion of no confidence was tabled against his government in the Legislative Assembly for his previous imprisonment of its presiding officer. Faced with growing parliamentary opposition and the monarchy's interventions, Muhirwa gave Mwambutsa his resignation that day. The Mwami appointed Pierre Ngendandumwe as the new Prime Minister. Despite this, Muhirwa retained his position in UPRONA and remained influential in national politics as the leader of the Casablanca group. In 1964 he was made Minister of State in Prime Minister Albin Nyamoya's government.
In 1965 Muhirwa was co-opted into the Senate.Following the failure of a Hutu-led coup attempt later that year, he directed government retaliation against Hutu intellectuals. In 1966 he orchestrated the July coup that crowned Charles Ndizeye as Mwami Ntare V. Following Captain Michel Micombero's coup that November, he was arrested. He was later released and on 28 November 1967 appointed to a sinecure position with the Bujumbura port authority.
In 2001 he co-founded the Parliamentary Monarchist Party (Parti Monarchiste Parlementaire, PMP).
Burundi originated in the 16th century as a small kingdom in the African Great Lakes region. After European contact, it was united with the Kingdom of Rwanda, becoming the colony of Ruanda-Urundi - first colonised by Germany and then by Belgium. The colony gained independence in 1962, and split once again into Rwanda and Burundi. It is one of the few countries in Africa to be a direct territorial continuation of a pre-colonial era African state.
Louis Rwagasore was a Burundian prince and politician who served as Prime Minister of Burundi from 28 September 1961 until his assassination two weeks later. Within Burundi, Rwagasore's reputation enjoys nearly-universal acclaim, and his assassination is commemorated annually with large ceremonies. He remains relatively unknown internationally in comparison to other leaders of independence movements in the Great Lakes region.
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