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Title:Countering threats, stabilising politics and selling hope: examining the 'Agaciro' concept as a response to a critical juncture in Rwanda
Author:Behuria, Pritish
Periodical:Journal of Eastern African Studies (ISSN 1753-1063)
Geographic term:Rwanda
Subjects:economic development
political stability
political ideologies
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/17531055.2016.1250871
Abstract:The political settlements literature has assigned a privileged role to rents as instruments used by ruling elites to maintain political stability. Since then, there has been some attempt 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. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]