Rwanda’s last king Kigeli V dies at 80
The last king of Rwanda, Kigeli V, who ruled the east African nation for less than a year before being forced into exile, finally settling in the United States, has died according to his official website. He was 80.
Born Jean-Baptiste Ndahindurwa, King Kigeli came to power in 1959 and was forced to leave the country the following year, after clashing with the Belgian colonial power. In 1961, the monarchy was abolished.
The king began a life of exile in east Africa, including Kenya and Uganda, before leaving for America, where he settled in the suburbs of Washington in 1992.
Details of his death early on Sunday were not immediately known. “It is with a very heavy heart that we announce that His Majesty King Kigeli V Ndahindurwa, the last King of Rwanda, died early this morning,” read a statement on his website. “He was a devout and dedicated believer and the last anointed African Roman Catholic king to reign over a full country,” it added.
Funeral arrangements, and details on the heir to the throne would be announced at a later date, the statement said.
King Kigeli had come to power after succeeding his half-brother Mutara III, who died in unclear circumstances on the eve of the Hutu “social revolution”, which sent hundreds of thousands of ethnic Tutsi fleeing.
Most of them did not return home to Rwanda until after the 1994 genocide, which left some 800,000 dead, mostly from that minority.
Kigeli V is a Tutsi, but the tradition is that the monarchy represent all Rwandans of all ethnicities. In September 1961, the monarchy was abolished by referendum and Rwanda gained independence the following year.
While in the US, the exiled monarch led the King Kigeli V Foundation to aid Rwandan refugees.