Agathe Uwilingiyimana (uwiliɲɟijimɑːnɑ May 23rd, 1953 - April 7th, 1994), sometimes known as Madame Agathe, was a Rwandan and moderate Hutu politician. She served as Prime Minister of Rwanda from July 18, 1993 until her assassination on April 7, 1994, during the early stages of the Rwandan genocide.
Agathe Uwilingiyimana, one of the most influential women in Rwandan history, was born in 1953 in the town of Nyaruhengeri, about 140 km southeast of Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, of farming parents. Shortly after birth, the family emigrated from Butare to work in the Belgian Congo. Her father moved the family to Butare when Uwilingiyimana was four years old. After the success in the public exams, she was educated at the Notre Dame des Cîteaux high school and obtained the certificate to teach humanities at age 20.
In 1976 she obtained a high school diploma in mathematics and chemistry. She worked as a math teacher in Butare. The same year, she married Ignace Barahira, a fellow student from his village. Their first son was born after the year; They would have five children.
In 1986, she created a Cooperative Society of Sorority and Cooperation among the staff of the Butare academic school and his high-profile role in the self-help organization told the Kigali authorities that they wanted to appoint those responsible for organizing the discontent in the south of country. In 1989 she became director of the Ministry of Commerce.
She joined the Republican Democratic Movement (MDR), an opposition party, in 1992 and four months later she was appointed Minister of Education for Dismas Nsengiyaremye, the first prime minister of the opposition under a power distribution scheme negotiated between the president Juvénal Habyarimana and five major opposition parties. As Minister of Education, she abolished the system of academic ethnic quota, granting public school places and scholarships for ranking of open merits. This decision won her the enmity of the Hutu extremist parties.
On July 17, 1993, after a meeting between President Habyarimana and the five parties, Agathe Uwilingiyimana became the first female prime minister of Rwanda, replacing Dr. Nsengiyaremye, the man who had appointed her Minister of Education and the exoneration of the quel was unpopular with the other parties. On the day of his appointment, Nsengiyareme suspended the militancy to the MDR of Uwilingiyimana, which had opposed the formation of any interim government excluding the rebel Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).
The Habyarimana-Uwilingiyimana government was still dominated by the Hutus and had the desperate task of successfully negotiating a peace agreement with the Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR), the Tutsi-dominated guerrilla movement. An agreement between Habyarimana, the five opposition parties (ostensibly directed for Uwilingiyimana) and the RPF was finally reached on August 4, 1993. According to the "Arusha agreements", the government MRND would occupy the transitional presidency, and the Prime Minister would be Faustin Twagiramungu of the MDR.
President Habyarimana officially dismissed her as prime minister eighteen days after her appointment to office, but she remained for eight months until she died in April 1994. However, she was repudiated by all Hutu-dominated parties, including her own MDR and the ruling party of President Habyrimana, which held a press conference in January 1994 in which he attacked Uwilingiyimana for being a "political destroyer."
The talks between President Habyarimana, Uwilingiyimana and the Rwandan Patriotic Front never ended, and the president's plane was shot down by rocket at 8:30 p.m. on April 6th, 1994. From the death of Habyarimana until her assassination in the morning (approximately 14 hours), Prime Minister Uwilingiyimana was the head of the constitutional government of Rwanda.
In an interview on Radio France on the night of President Habyarimana's murder, Uwilingiyimana said there would be an immediate investigation. She also said, in her last recorded words:
"There are shots, people are terrified, people are in their homes lying on the ground. We are suffering the consequences of the death of the head of state, I think"
After these words, she was raped and murdered by Hutu supremacists lead by Innocent Sagahutu, after which her position was wrongfully taken by Jean Kambanda who incited the genocide.