n Africa Insight - State security and trans-border ethnic polarity in the Great Lakes Region of Africa the DRC/Rwanda Imbroglio

Volume 45, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0256-2804


The artificiality of African continental boundaries inherited from colonialism has created ethnic microcosms that have engendered diplomatic challenges in the post-colonial era, principally between two countries that share a common border and ethnic group. This paper examines the synthetic, complex and violent diplomatic relations between the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. In doing so, the importance of cross-border local level dynamics, which manifests itself in the regional and national realm, are emphasised. The role of traditional chiefs, community leaders and, more importantly, ethnic leaders, in shaping the 'larger picture' of Rwanda/DRC relations are expounded upon. The 1994 genocide and the first and second Congolese wars have been fundamental in shaping this relationship. The presence of a series of alliances and the quasi-absence of the state in the DRC has transformed such local dynamics to the continental level. The paper seeks to suggest how local cross-border dynamics between Rwanda and DRC have shaped and influenced international relations between the two countries.

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