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Politics and Reconstruction in Post-genocide Rwanda: A Re-appraisal. “Peace, Security and Development” Conference , Mbarara University of Science and Technology May 23-25, 2013. In 1994 the RPF inherited a devastated country

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politics and reconstruction in post genocide rwanda a re appraisal

Politics and Reconstruction in Post-genocide Rwanda: A Re-appraisal

“Peace, Security and Development” Conference, Mbarara University of Science and TechnologyMay 23-25, 2013

the rpf took to thinking outside the box of conventional politics

In 1994 the RPF inherited a devastated country

  • Even the most optimistic analysts doubted it would be anything but a failed state for the foreseeable future
  • Extraordinary situation that called for an extraordinary response
The RPF took to thinking ‘outside the box’ of conventional politics
urugwiro consultations gacaca courts decentralisation new constitution

Only armed and well resources political group in the country

  • Motivated to share power rather than monopolise it and shut other groups out
  • Gov’t of national unity: with pre-existing political parties
  • Only MRND & CDR excluded – but individual, untainted members free to participate
Urugwiro consultations: gacaca courts, decentralisation, new constitution
post genocide political settlement therefore highly inclusive

The 2003 National Constitution based on several rounds of grassroots consultations.

Highlights:

  • Power sharing entrenched – RPF versus other parties – 50/50 cabinet
  • Other positions: President, President of the Senate, Speaker of Parliament, Prime Minister, Supreme Court President
  • National consultative forum of political parties
Post-genocide political settlement therefore highly inclusive
slide5

Foundation stones of the political settlement:

  • Commitment against a revival of ethnic sectarianism
  • Belief in development as the principal path to reconciliation
  • Pursuit of formally ruled-governed rather than clientelistic political competiton

The 10-party consensus resting on these foundation stones & the rejection of winner-takes-all politics explains the exclusion of some political organisations

slide6

The consensus also underlies the post-1990s internal political stability

  • The stability has in turn facilitated the pursuit of development and social change, of which achievements include: rapid declines in maternal & child mortality; expansion of access to health, education, safe water & electricity; increased food security; reduction in poverty rates; etc.
Key questions: will social change eradicate ethnic sectarianism? How long will political consensus last? Jury still out.
new media friendly legislation access to information self regulation

Media in Rwanda

  • More than 10 radio stations; more than 15 newspaper titles
  • Few newspapers publish regularly - limited readership; lack of financial sustainability
  • Limited readership, lack of skills and of financial viability greater (print) media enemies than government hostility
  • Fair amount of self-censorship in electronic & print media – progressively declining, though
New media-friendly legislation: access to information, self-regulation
slide8

Civil society

  • There are thousands of civil society groups (if cooperatives are included)
  • History of fraught relations with the government, especially human rights NGOs (seen as too much under foreign influence)
  • In recent years development NGOs have abandoned adversarial contestation with the government & opted for collaboration – increasingly in service provision, advocacy & policy influence via round-table consultations
Lack of financial resources, skills, and capacity for engagement greater hindrances than GoR hostility
slide9

Conclusions

  • Rwanda hardly a democracy in a conventional sense – but also not the iron-clad dictatorship of popular imagination
  • Ample space for political parties, media organisations and civil society to influence policy than claimed by enthusiastic GoR/RPF/Kagame critics

Most important: GoRcommitted to democratisation – but not through the route most familiar to democracy exporters & activists – great learning of East Asian lessons