Managing Dissent in a Post-genocide Environment: The Challenge of Political Space in Rwanda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)


This article analyses how political space, defined here as the ability of actors other than the government to critically engage in debate on government policy and practice, is being constituted in post-genocide Rwanda. Using evidence from interviews with civil society activists and examples from the Rwandan Government's post-genocide policies, it explores the kind of political space which results from an interplay of potentially competing influences. These include the promotion of a liberal approach to democracy, favoured by many of Rwanda's donors, and a more tightly-managed and limited transition which is both preferred by and beneficial for the RPF Government. The article shows that although space could be seen in some areas as opening, this trend is hampered by government actions, including legislative and shadow methods, by donor reluctance to pressure the ruling RPF and by fear within civil society of tackling politically sensitive issues. In conclusion, the author suggests that this fear is reinforced by government policies which narrow perceptions of political space, exacerbated by perceived abandonment of civil society by donors, and that in combination these factors pose a long-term challenge to more openly contested politics in Rwanda.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-251
Number of pages27
JournalDevelopment and Change
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2010


Dive into the research topics of 'Managing Dissent in a Post-genocide Environment: The Challenge of Political Space in Rwanda'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this