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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Patterns of State Collapse and Reconstruction in Central Africa: Reflections on the Crisis in the Great Lakes Region
Author:Lemarchand, RenéISNI
Year:1997
Periodical:Afrika Spectrum
Volume:32
Issue:2
Pages:173-193
Language:English
Geographic terms:Congo (Democratic Republic of)
Burundi
Rwanda
Subjects:political stability
State collapse
Politics and Government
Ethnic and Race Relations
Abstract:The aim of this article is to reflect on what the current crisis in the Great Lakes region tells us about the patterns of decay and collapse affecting the State systems of Rwanda, Burundi and Zaire (now renamed the Congo Democratic Republic) and briefly consider the prospects for reconstruction. After an overview of the human costs of the crisis and its geopolitical implications, the author challenges the conventional wisdom about 'the clash of civilizations'. He argues that this model is inappropriate to explain the agonies of Rwanda and Burundi, which is made abundantly clear by their remarkable cultural homogeneity. Political exclusion rather than clashing civilizations is the key to conflicting identity formation in these States. What Huntington (1996) refers to as the 'kin country syndrome' is basic to an understanding of the process of escalation in the Great Lakes. Where ethnic fault lines cut across national boundaries, conflict tends to spill over from one arena to the next. In the catalogue of forces that conspired to the collapse of the State in the three countries, one common denominator emerges: the extension of the dysfunctions of the State to the military. Given the extreme fluidity of the regional context, any attempt to assess the prospects for reconstruction must be highly speculative. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. in French and German.
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