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Countering threats, stabilising politics and selling hope: examining the Agaciro concept as a response to a critical juncture in Rwanda

Behuria, Pritish (2016) Countering threats, stabilising politics and selling hope: examining the Agaciro concept as a response to a critical juncture in Rwanda. Journal of Eastern African Studies, 10 (3). pp. 434-451. ISSN 1753-1055

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Identification Number: 10.1080/17531055.2016.1250871

Abstract

The political settlements literature [Khan, M. Political Settlements and the Governance of Growth-enhancing Institutions. School of Oriental and African Studies Working Paper, 2010. Accessed June 19, 2014. http://eprints.soas.ac.uk/9968; North, D., J. Wallis, and B. Weingast. Violence and Social Orders: A Conceptual Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009] has assigned a privileged role to rents as instruments used by ruling elites to maintain political stability. Since then, there has been some attempt [Hickey, S. Thinking about the Politics of Inclusive Development: Towards a Relational Approach. Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre Working Paper No. 1, 2013; Hudson, D., and A. Leftwich. 2014. From Political Economy to Political Analysis. Development Leadership Programme Research Paper 25, Birmingham] to highlight how ideas may play a similarly important role in contributing to political stability. This article explores how ruling elites in Rwanda responded to a ‘critical juncture’ in 2012 when donors withdrew foreign aid after they alleged that the Rwandan Patriotic Front government was supporting rebel groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ruling elites then used an idea – Agaciro (a Kinyarwanda word, which means dignity or self-respect) – as one instrument to maintain political stability and legitimise its revised development programme in Rwanda. Ruling elites have also used the rhetoric around Agaciro to target the younger generation in Rwanda. This paper argues that Agaciro is symbolic of the vulnerabilities faced by ruling elites in Rwanda today. These vulnerabilities are a specific outcome of the Rwandan developmental strategy, which combines neoliberal market-led reforms, with some developmental state-like policies. The Agaciro concept was also operationalised, with the creation of an Agaciro Development Fund (AgDF) in 2012. The AgDF was legitimised on the basis of a commitment to self-reliance (among elites) during a time where symbolic coalition building among elites was important for political stability. However, Agaciro is also used to project the country’s development strategy (particularly in relation to entrepreneurship and financial inclusion) as one of opportunity, instead of acknowledging the severe inequality that has been associated with development in Rwanda thus far.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rjea20/current
Additional Information: © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Sets: Departments > International Development
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2017 11:40
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2019 11:50
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/69580

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