Structural violence and the struggle for state power in Rwanda

ABSTRACT: The 1994 Rwandan genocide occurred despite the existence of a peace and power sharing agreement (the Arusha Accords) to which all parties to the conflict had ostensibly subscribed.  This paper addresses the failings of the Arusha peace and power sharing process and makes three core arguments.  The first is that the Arusha process was a part of the problem because it heightened tensions within élite circles and provided a channel through which aspirant élites could pursue their dangerous goals. The Arusha Accords also failed, and this is the second argument, because they neglected (or worsened) the structural conditions of life for the vast bulk of ordinary Rwandans.  The concluding section of the paper examines post-genocide Rwanda and how the legacy of the Arusha Accords hasbeen used to legitimise new forms of repression.   Again, and this is the third core argument of the paper, a seemingly reasonable political agreement to share power is being co-opted for a very different purpose—to legitimate the power of a new ruling élite.