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Another Take on the Risk of Mass Killing in Rwanda

In a new post on African Arguments, Bert Ingelaere and Marijke Verpoorten ask rhetorically if state-led mass killing could happen again in Rwanda and answer with an unequivocal yes.

“The risk of mass violence against civilians remains high. This is not necessarily because of the continuity in the (hidden) awareness of ethnicity, or economic uncertainties, but is largely due to the visionary authoritarian character of the regime with its peculiar political culture and the path-dependency of a society that went through episodes of mass violence.”

They cite our statistical risk assessment as a corroborating piece of evidence, but their analysis draws mostly on their own understanding of the history of Rwanda's political economy and the episodes of violent conflict it has periodically produced. Ingelaere and Verpoorten also propose a specific remedy: make foreign aid conditional on concrete steps toward democratization.

“In theory, aid conditionality can provide considerable leverage: donor support grants represent over 40% of Rwandan government expenditures. In practice, donors have not used this leverage to demand changes in Rwanda’s domestic political landscape, and operate under the assumption that economic progress is the main route to peaceful cohabitation in Rwanda. This assumption is wrong. We believe that we will only be able to say that state-led mass violence against civilians in Rwanda will never happen again if there is also a gradual change in the governance strategy.”

You can read their whole essay here.