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FIRST STAMPS under mandate 1 December 1924.

Two African kingdoms ruled by German East Africa until World War I. Captured by Belgian troops in 1916. Stamps of Belgian Congo with dual overprints in French and Flemish were used at Belgian Field POs in the west sector, and as far east as Tabora from July 1916. It was mandated at the peace settlement to Belgium, and confirmed as a trust territory under the United Nations on 13 December 1946. On 1 July 1962 they became separately independent as Rwanda and Burundi (see below).


FIRST STAMPS 1 July 1962 inscribed 'Republique Rwandaise'.


Belgian, subsequently the Rwanda Franc of 100 centimes..

Had become a republic while still under trusteeship, and stayed thus until independence on 1 July 1962.

The majority Hutu population rebelled against the feudal Tutsi rule in 1959-62, leading to the massacre of thousands of Tutsis. Large numbers fled to Uganda. The first President of the republic was deposed in 1973 and was replaced by a military government under general Habyasima, who established a one-party state.

Armed Tutsi exiles repeatedly attempted to invade Rwanda in the 1960s and 70s but were always defeated by the Hutu army. Continued Hutu-Tutsi conflict left thousands dead over a period of 30 years.

In October 1990, Rwanda was invaded by the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) of exiled Tutsis and some moderate Hutus, who were against the one party system. The invaders forced the one-party Government to introduce a multi-party Constitution in 1991. When the Government refused to honour the 1992 Peace Agreement, the RPF advanced on Kigali and forced the Government to begin negotiations again. This resulted in a peace accord in August 1993, known as the Arusha accord. This accord provided for a transitional period under a broad-based government including the RPF until the 1995 elections and a presence of United Nations forces in the country during this period.

President Habyarima who had retained the presidency during this period, died on 6 April 1994 in a plane crash, probably caused by a rocket attack by extremists of the Hutu army. This army and militia then carried out a pre-planned act of genocide against the Tutsi minority and moderate Hutus. 500,000 preople were massacred in three months. The civil war began again and the RPF gradually re-established control over the country and forced the defeated government troops and 2 million Hutu refugees out of the country. Finally, on 18 July 1994, the RPF declared victory and established a government of National Unity.

Between 50,000 and 60,000 Hutu refugees died of disease in refugee camps in eastern Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) in the summer of 1994. French troops with drew from their 'safe zone' in the south-west of the country in September 1994 and were replaced by RPF forces that gradually returned most of the refugees in the zone to their homes. UN forces (UNAMIR II), which included British troops, were also deployed to deter revenge attacks by either side.

After November 1994, there was a gradual return of the refugees to Rwanda. It is estimated that 200,000 returnd from Uganda, but by December 1995, 500,000 refugees remained in Tanzania and over a million in Zaire. UN forces left the country in March 1996 and the killings by both sides continued and Hutu attacks in central and western Rwanda were frequent in the first half of 1998.

Rwanda has supported a rebellion in the Democratic Republic of Congo (qv) led by the Congolese Democratic Rally, a Congolese Tutsi Group. Rwandese troops have also been deployed in the Congo.

Local elections took place on 29-31 March 1999, the first for nine years and the transitional National Assembly was extended for four further years in June 1999.


FIRST STAMPS inscribed 'Royaume de Burundi', 1 July 1962 inscribed 'Republique du Burundi', 28 November 1966 (overprints), inscribed stamps from February 1967.


Belgian, subsequently Burundi franc of 100 centimes.

On gaining independence from Belgium, Burundi became a kingdom from 1962-1966 when it became a republic. After a coup in 1987, the Military Committee of National Redemption came to power led by Major Buyoya, a Tutsi.

Although most of the population is Hutu, political and military power has always remained in the hands of the Tutsi minority. Since the 1960s, Hutu attempts to overthrow the ruling power has resulted in ethnic massacres. The Tutsi dominated army attempted a coup in 1993 in which the president was killed. The Government regained control in December, but the two months of civil war had resulted in 50,000 dead and 500,000 refugees.

It was agreed to form a coalition government in 1994 with a Tutsi prime -minister and a Hutu president. However, the government was unable to prevent attacks by the Tutsi army or the Hutu militia being made on each others communities. The fighting is estimated to have claimed 200,000 lives in 1993-95.

In July 1996 the army again seized power and Major Buyoya was re- installed as President. Political parties were banned and the National Assembly was suspended until October 1996. Clashes between the army and the Hutu militia together with the massacre of civilians has continued. More than 100,000 refugees remain in camps in Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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