In a post-civil war setting, those in power often argue there is a choice between liberal democracy and stability. Does this trade-off actually exist? Should democratic elections be the priority for a state recovering from a civil war, or does running elections carry the risk of revived political violence? If liberalization takes a back seat to stability, how long can a ruling party continue to maintain a closed system before outsiders become radicalized, once again putting stability at risk? Should development organizations view elections as the primary feature of democracy, or is there a broader notion of democracy that must be taken into account? Is there a right sequence to building a liberal democracy? This thesis will apply these questions to Rwanda, which many analysts have hailed as an example of successful post-conflict reconstruction. However, a deeper look reveals an illiberal democracy effectively dominated by one-party rule. It engages in foreign entanglements and suffers a continuing refugee crisis. International aid groups continue to praise Rwanda, seemingly ignoring the political situation and perhaps abetting authoritarianism. Applying post-conflict theory to Rwanda will reveal answers to the above questions while also generating policy recommendations for lawmakers in Kigali.

Endnotes.pdf (152 kB)