Patterns of State Collapse and Reconstruction in Central Africa: Reflections on the Crisis in the Great Lakes


  • René Lemarchand


In a matter of days last October, a large swathe of eastern Zaire erupted into an orgy of violence, sending tremors through the Great Lakes region and beyond. What brought Armageddon to the shores of Lake Kivu were the search and destroy operations launched by units of Rwanda’s Armée Patriotique Rwandaise (APR) on a Hutu refugee population of over a million people distributed among a dozen camps, many of which had been used as launching pads for cross-border raids into Rwanda and Burundi. The awesome nemesis visited upon the refugees is both epilogue and beginning. It brings to a close the threats posed to the Rwanda state by Hutu extremists, and opens up a new chapter in the tortured history of Zaire (now renamed the Democratic Congo Republic [DCR]). The violence unleashed by the APR had its source in Zaire, but its logic came from Rwanda; the Kabiliste insurrection, on the other hand, has a logic of its own, but its impetus came from Rwanda.