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Securocratic state-building: the rationales, rebuttals, and risks behind the extraordinary rise of Rwanda after the genocide

Mcdoom, Omar Shahabudin (2022) Securocratic state-building: the rationales, rebuttals, and risks behind the extraordinary rise of Rwanda after the genocide. African Affairs, 121 (485). 535 – 567. ISSN 0001-9909

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Identification Number: 10.1093/afraf/adac031

Abstract

Both popular perspectives and theoretical characterizations of Rwanda’s remarkable trajectory following the genocide remain polarized more than a generation after the violence. The country has been hailed as a developmental state and denounced as an authoritarian ‘ethnocracy’. I introduce the concept of securocratic state-building in response to this polarization. The construct is intended to capture, first, the regime’s developmental but non-doctrinaire ambitions, synthesizing liberal and illiberal precepts; and second its prioritization of security over liberty, favouring stability over peace. I then draw on a set of interviews with key Rwandan opinion-makers drawn from across the country’s principal political and social divides to elicit the competing rationales given for each of three grand strategic choices made by the regime: why it eschewed competitive politics; why it sought to re-engineer society and efface ethnicity; and why it moved to modernize the state and the economy. The juxtaposition of these opposing opinions exposes a fundamental tension at the heart of the securocratic state-building model: the regime’s aspiration for unity is at odds with its preoccupation with security. This strategic contradiction, I argue, places a question mark over the long-term sustainability of the Rwanda model.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://academic.oup.com/afraf
Additional Information: © 2022 The Author
Divisions: Government
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DT Africa
J Political Science > JC Political theory
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2022 12:15
Last Modified: 23 Nov 2022 10:06
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/116858

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