Rwanda: an Army with a State?

Reyntjens says of Rwanda’s role in the Great African War:

Although it is the smallest country in the region, it is there that the epicentre of the crises lay. Without it, the conflicts would not have developed to such an extent. On the one hand, the 1994 genocide is a fundamental reference: as a consequence of both the old regime’s resistance to change and the deliberate strategy of tension conducted by the RPF, not only were hundres of thousands of Tutsi killed, but the Rwandan civil war also resulted in the violent restructuring of the whole region. On the other hand, the RPF – incapable of managing its victory – chose exclusion, ethnic domination and the military management of a political space, a mode of management which it extended beyond Rwanda’s borders. Encouraged by its moral high ground and by the ineptitude of the so-called international community, the new regime explored the limits of tolerance, crossing one Rubicon after another, and realised that there were none. (Military) success is intoxicating: the Rwanda Patriotic Army (RPA) went from war to war…The status of regional superpower acquired by this very small and very poor country is truly astonishing, and it was obtained through the force of arms, which was allowed to prevail because of the tolerance inspired by international feelings of guilt after the genocide. Paraphrasing what was said in the late 19th century about Prussia, Rwanda became an army with a state, rather than a state with an army, and it emerged as a major factor of regional instability.

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