The Rwanda government has mourned the passing of the country’s last monarch King Kigeli V Ndahindurwa, who died early Sunday in Virginia, United States, at the age of 80.
“It is with sadness that the government of Rwanda has learned of the passing of Kigeli V Ndahindurwa, the former King of Rwanda,” said the statement released by the office of the government spokesperson on Tuesday.
“The government of Rwanda has not yet been informed by the family regarding the final resting place and funeral arrangements,” the statement said, adding that the government was ready to provide any necessary support when the family make their preferences known.
King Kigeli V rose to throne in 1959 but was only king of Rwanda until 1961, when the monarchy was abolished and he was forced into exile.
During the exile, the king had lived in countries including Uganda and Kenya, before settling in 1992 in the United States, where he set up the King Kigeli V Foundation, a charity helping Rwandan refugees and orphans.
The king was reported to have demanded formal recognition of his return communicated to all Rwandans. However, the government of Rwanda did not agree on his terms.
According to a statement released by the king’s estate on Monday, several parties have expressed interest in assisting with any final expenses and the King’s staff is touched by the overwhelming kindness and generosity of supporters and well-wishers in the time of grief.
“His Majesty vigorously supported self-betterment through education, so any donations to educational institutions that support Rwandan students in His Majesty’s name would be greatly appreciated. For any supporters who specifically wish to help off-set final expenses of His Majesty, donations will be accepted,” the statement said.
King Kigeli, an ethnic Tutsi, came to power after succeeding his half brother King Mutara III Rudahigwa, who died in 1959 on the eve of the Hutu “social revolution,” which sent hundreds of thousands of ethnic Tutsis in exile.