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confidentially speaking

The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 28th March 2024

Thirty years on Rwanda and Congo-Kinshasa are haunted by a murderous history

Patrick Smith

Thirty years after the genocide in Rwanda, President Paul Kagame remains omnipresent on the national and regional political scene. He is certain to secure another term with a Soviet-style vote share in July's election. He has made no attempt to groom a successor and could serve two more five-year terms. Some in Rwanda and the region fear that the post-genocide reconciliation is far shallower than the government claims.

Though he has handed over his mantle as the African Union's de facto leader on reform to Kenya's William Ruto, Kagame's diplomatic skills are as sharp as any rival's. The United States and France have stepped up criticism of Kigali's support for M23 in eastern Congo-Kinshasa but have done little to constrain it. Kigali has emerged as an investment hub and – to Kenya's chagrin – an alternative international conference host to Nairobi. Rwanda depends on aid flows for over 60% of its budget, but neither the US nor European states are prepared to use this to pressure Kigali on Congo-K.

The European Commission signed an agreement to import critical raw materials from Rwanda, much to the fury of Congo-K, just days after the dispute over M23 dominated February's AU summit. Kagame's government has been paid over £300 million by Britain to process asylum seeker claims. The scheme is yet to see a single person flown to Rwanda and is likely to be abandoned by an incoming Labour government.