Between Pyongyang and Singapore: the Rwandan State, Its Rulers, and the Military

  • Will Jones


Rwanda has long suffered from outsiders’ projections. Whether as the Belgians’ enfant chéri, the donor darling of the post-genocidal period, or the recent incarnation of the RPF as the African ruling party everybody loves to hate,1 polemical castings of Rwandan politics saturate the discourse. They are ideology dressed as scholarship, and tell more about the authors of these discourses than about Rwanda itself. A more temperate analysis of the prospects for the current Rwandan political dispensation requires us to proceed unencumbered by assumptions about how Rwanda ‘should’ work, or judgments based on its failure to imitate Washington-consensus plati-tudes about what constitutes ‘good governance’. I want to argue that:
  1. 1.

    Both the characterisations of Rwanda as a shining example of the African Renaissance, and as a vicious dictatorship tottering on the brink of collapse overstate the case. Instead:

  2. 2.

    The Rwandan state functions beyond the dreams of most contemporary African state-builders, and success is built on factors which are unlikely to change, but may, under specific circumstances.

  3. 3.

    In spite of the continued functioning of the Rwandan state, the elite’s position is precarious.



Great Lake Region Naval Postgraduate School Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper World Bank Policy Research Working Bank Policy Research Working Paper 
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© Will Jones 2012

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  • Will Jones

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