Joseph Bamina

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Joseph Bamina (1925 – 15 December 1965) was a Burundian politician and member of the Union for National Progress (French: Union pour le Progrès national) (UPRONA) party. [1] Bamina was Prime Minister from 26 January to 30 September 1965, [2] and President of the Senate of Burundi in 1965. [3] He and other leaders of the government [4] were assassinated on 15 December 1965, [1] by Tutsi soldiers during a reprisal effort to stop a coup by Hutu officers. [4]

Life and work

Bamina was a Hutu who was trained at university [5] at a time when the colonial powers of German and Belgium had given most opportunities to Tutsis, limiting Hutus to training for the Catholic priesthood. [4]

In 1961, Burundi held elections to determine the post colonial government with the multi-ethnic UPRONA party winning 90% of the seats which were shared between Hutus and Tutsis. [4] In 1962, the Tutsi monarch (the Mwami) [1] decreed that UPRONA leadership would be determined by an election from the rank and file members of the party, and Bamina was elected the party president. [6] The vice president of the party, Paul Mirerekano, had hoped to win the position of president and he refused to participate with the other leaders of the party, instead leading a split in the party which became known as the Monrovia group and consisted of most of the Hutu members (the remaining Tutsi wing identified as Casablanca). [6]

The Monrovia faction recognized the People's Republic of China in 1964, contrary to the desires of the Mwami. [5] In January 1965, the Mwami tapped Pierre Ngendandumwe, a Hutu, to form a new government as Prime Minister, [4] in part because of his stance against Chinese and communist influence in the country. [7] Ngendandumwe was assassinated by Tutsis shortly thereafter, and on 24 January, [8] Bamina was named temporary Prime Minister and national elections were slated for the spring. [4] As Prime Minister, Bamina cut off relations with communist China on 30 January and ordered the Chinese diplomatic staff out of the country, [9] [10] with government troops surrounding the Chinese embassy. [7]

The Hutus won the May elections, garnering 80% of the seats. [11]

Bamina was elected President of the Senate on 4 September. [12] After the Mwami overruled the senate's selection of a Hutu as prime minister and instead appointed a Tutsi [4] Hutu officers in the army staged a coup in October, [13] but Tutsi soldiers countered and executed many of the Hutu members of the government, including Bamina on 15 December 1965. [4]

Bamina had been married to a Tutsi woman. [5] His widow, Mary Roche Bamina, is president of the Bamina Foundation. [14]

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Paul Mirerekano was a Burundian politician. Ethnically Hutu, he worked as an agronomist for the Belgian colonial administration in Ruanda-Urundi before starting a successful market garden in Bugarama. Politically, he was a nationalist, monarchist, and advocate for Hutu civil rights. He was a leading member of Louis Rwagasore's political party, the Union for National Progress (UPRONA), and in 1961 served as the organisation's interim president. Rwagasore's assassination in 1961 fueled a rivalry between Mirerekano and Prime Minister André Muhirwa, as both men claimed to be the heirs to Rwagasore's legacy and sought to take control of UPRONA. The controversy led to the coalescing of two factions in the party, with Mirerekano leading what became known as the Hutu-dominated "Monrovia group". His criticism of Muhirwa and his successor led him to be arrested on several occasions, but in 1965 he was elected to a seat in the National Assembly representing the Bujumbura constituency. The body subsequently elected Mirerekano its First Vice-President on 20 July. In October Hutu soldiers launched a coup attempt which failed, but led to the outbreak of ethnic violence. The government believed Mirerekano helped plan the coup attempt and executed him. His reputation remains a controversial subject in Burundi.


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Political offices
Preceded by
Pié Masumbuko
Prime Minister of Burundi
Succeeded by
Léopold Biha