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Michel Micombero

Last modified: 7 December 2008
René Lemarchand

December 2008

Cite this item

René Lemarchand, Micombero, Michel, Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence, [online], published on 7 December 2008, accessed 21 September 2014, URL : http://www.massviolence.org/Micombero-Michel, ISSN 1961-9898

Born in the commune of Rutovu, in Bururi province, Micombero served as President of Burundi’s First Republic (1966-1977), until his overthrow by Jean-Baptiste Bagaza, also from Bururi. Before he seized power from Mwami Ntare on November 28, 1966, Captain Micombero combined the functions of Prime Minister and Minister of Defense under Mwami Ntare’s short-lived government (July 8-November 28, 1966). The capture of power by the army propelled him to center stage, first as the Head of the National Revolutionary Council (NRC), consisting of seventeen army officers, twelve of whom were Tutsi, and then as the central figure in the Bururi “lobby”, whose key members in the government appointed in 1968 were Artémon Simbananiye, Albert Shibura and Francois Gisamare, all three of Tutsi-Hima origins. As the most radical opponents of the northern-based Tutsi-Banyaruguru, suspected of plotting a return of the monarchy, they did not hesitate to bring bogus charges against them in 1971, with Micombero’s tacit approval. All three served as Micombero’s inner cabinet during the 1972 genocide, but it is widely believed that it was Micombero himself who personally ordered the assassination of ex-king Ntare. After dissolving the government on April 29, Micombero emerged as the central actor in the organization of the killings, beginning with the brutal repression of Hutu suspects in Bururi, the physical elimination of all Hutu troops within the army, and the transformation of regionally-based repressive measures into a country-wide genocide. He was overthrown on November 1, 1976, by his own cousin, Jean-Baptiste Bagaza, thus ushering the birth of the Second Republic.

For further reference:

Chrétien, Jean-Pierre & Dupaquier, Jean-Francois, 2007. Burundi 1972 : Au bord des genocides, Karthala.

Lemarchand, René, 1970, Rwanda and Burundi, London: Pall Mall Press.

Lemarchand, René, 1994, Burundi: Ethnic Conflict and Genocide, Cambridge: Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Cambridge University Press.

Nsanze, Augustin, 2007, Le Burundi Contemporain: L’Etat-nation en question (1956-2002), Paris: L’Harmattan.

Online Encyclopedia of Mass Violence® - ISSN 1961-9898