Princes’ Progress Reconstruction and Authority in Eritrea and Rwanda

"Eritrea and Rwanda are among Africa’s smallest and poorest states. Substantial military resources, and expertise, have enabled both countries to exert dispropor-tionate influence over regional security. Aggression and authoritarianism have not prompted matching responses from donor nations. While President Paul Kagame’s leadership of Rwanda has been championed as “visionary”, President Isaias Afwerki is accused of transforming Eritrea into a rogue, pariah state. These notes argue that popular perceptions of these comparable, though seldom compared, countries have been simplistic – and polarised. From the outset, the presidents of Eritrea and Rwanda have emphasised their zero tolerance for corruption, and commitment to gender equality, education and good government. Vigorous development programmes in both countries have been driven by authoritarianism. Dissent and ethnic or religious divisionism are not tolerated in either country. Power is concentrated in the hands of the president and a small circle of senior advisers and military commanders. Arbitrary arrests, disappearances, and politically-motivated prosecutions are commonplace. "