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Timeline: Rwanda heads to August elections

KIGALI (Reuters) - Rwanda heads to the polls on August 9 for the second time since the 1994 genocide. Here is a timeline of events in Rwanda since then.

April 6, 1994 - Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundi President Cyprien Ntaryamira killed in a rocket attack on their plane. Habyarimana’s death triggers 100-day orgy of violence, perpetrated mainly by Hutus against Tutsis and moderate Hutus. About 800,000 people are killed. The Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) starts new offensive.

April 7, 1994 - Presidential guards kill moderate Hutu Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiwimana, who had tried to calm tensions.

July 1994 - RPF seizes control of Rwanda after driving 40,000-strong Hutu army and 2 million civilian Hutus into exile in Burundi, Tanzania and Zaire (later Democratic Republic of Congo).

August 1996 - Rwandan troops, disguised as Zairean rebels, launch invasion of Zaire. Thousands of civilians are killed while hundreds of thousands of Hutu refugees return to Rwanda.

Dec 27, 1996 - Rwanda’s first genocide trial opens under the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR).

June 1997 - Rwandan strongman Paul Kagame admits his troops invaded Zaire and helped install Laurent Kabila as new president there.

August 1998 - Rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda take up arms against Congolese President Laurent Kabila.

March 23, 2000 - Hutu President Pasteur Bizimungu resigns after falling out with his Tutsi-dominated ruling party.

April 17, 2000 - Vice-President Kagame is elected president by members of parliament and ministers.

July 30, 2002 - The presidents of Rwanda and the DRC sign a peace pact aimed at ending years of atrocities.

Aug 25, 2003 - Rwanda holds its first elections since the 1994 massacres. Kagame wins. The opposition rejects the result.

Nov 20, 2004 - Leaders from 11 Great Lakes countries, including Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC, sign the Dar es Salaam Declaration, pledging to end the genocide and hunger that have killed 3 million over the previous 10 years.

Jan 14, 2005 - Rwanda says 1 million of its citizens -- an eighth of the population -- are expected to face charges in traditional or “gacaca” village courts. The hearings begin three days later.

November 24, 2006 - Rwanda breaks off diplomatic ties with France in protest at a French judge’s call for Kagame to stand trial over the killing of Habyarimana.

January 23, 2009 - Rwanda arrests Tutsi Congolese warlord Laurent Nkunda. The UN had accused elements of Kagame’s regime of backing his 5-year rebellion. His detention is seen as part of a peace deal between the arch foes.

November 29, 2009 - The Commonwealth admits French-speaking Rwanda as its 54th member.

-- On the same day, France and Rwanda agree to restore diplomatic relations.

February 25, 2010 - President Nicolas Sarkozy says France made serious errors of judgment over the 1994 genocide.

June 19, 2010 - Ex-army chief of staff Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa is shot and wounded in South Africa, where he fled after falling out with Kagame.

June 25, 2010 - Critical journalist Jean Leonard Rugambage is shot dead after publishing a story linking Rwanda security services to dissident general Nyamwasa’s shooting. The government firmly denies responsibility.

July 13, 2010 - Police say they have arrested Saidati Mukakibibi, an unregistered journalist who works for independent newspaper Umurabyo, for comparing Kagame with Hitler.

July 14, 2010 - The Democratic Green Party’s vice president, Andre Kagwa Rwisereka, reported missing since July 13, is found dead. His truck was found close to the southern city of Butare.

July 16, 2010 - Victoire Ingabire, head of the unregistered United Democratic Forces party, facing charges of spreading ethnic hatred and funding Rwandan rebels in DR Congo, calls for a boycott of the August elections as she and some would-be candidates have been barred from standing.

July 20, 2010 - Kagame says it is not his responsibility to create a strong opposition, as he launches his re-election campaign at a rally in the national stadium.

August 9, 2010 - Presidential elections.

Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit