Body of former Rwanda king repatriated for burial

Body of former Rwanda king repatriated for burial

The body of Rwanda’s last monarch King Kigeli V Ndahindurwa arrived in Rwanda on Monday, ahead of the burial yet to be communicated.

This followed the ruling of a United States court that the king would be buried in his motherland

A court in U.S. state of Virginia on Friday last week brought to an end prolonged disagreements between close relations of the king that ensued after the death of the 80-year-old ruler.

He died on Oct. 16, 2016 in Virginia and one faction wanted the king buried in the United States while others preferred Rwanda.

Various meetings took place in Rwanda and the United States to try to find common ground, but neither side wanted to compromise.

They decided to seek court intervention.

Boniface Benzinge, a former aide and confidant of the king, led the group opposing the repatriation saying the king had wished not to be buried in Rwanda.

However, in court, the group failed to provide any documents upholding their position.

Nevertheless, King Kigeli’s only surviving sibling, his half sister Speciosa Mukabayojo, led the faction that supported the repatriation of the remains of the last monarchy to Rwanda for burial.

After four days of court deliberations, the group led by Mukabayojo won the case arguing that the King had not obtained citizenship of any other country since he fled into exile in 1961, an indication that he still loved his country of birth and hoped to return some day.

By press time, burial arrangements had not yet been communicated.

Arriving at the Kigali international Airport, the body of the former king was received by his close relatives and some of the Rwanda government officials amid tight security.

Born Jean-Baptiste Ndahindurwa in 1936, took the regal name of Kigeli V upon his rise to the throne in 1959, before he was deposed by the Belgian colonial power.

King Kigeli, an ethnic Tutsi, came to power after succeeding his half brother King Mutara III Rudahigwa, who died in unclear circumstances on July 25, 1959 on the eve of the Hutu “social revolution’’ which sent hundreds of thousands of ethnic Tutsis in exile.

King Kigeli V came to power in 1959, but was only king of Rwanda until 1961, when the monarchy was abolished and he was forced into exile.

The former king was deported to Tanganyika by the Belgian colonial government on Oct. 2, 1961.

He later lived in Uganda, then Kenya, before settling in 1992 in the United States, where he set up King Kigeli V Foundation, a charity helping Rwandan refugees and orphans.


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