Pol19


Politics after war: armed actors in post-conflict societies [CRG African Politics and International Relations] 
Convenorss:
Giulia Piccolino (Loughborough University)
Ewa Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs (Folke Bernadotte Academy)
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Stream:
Politics and International Relations
Location:
Appleton Tower, Seminar Room 2.14
Sessions:
Wednesday 12 June, 8:45-10:15 (UTC+0)

Short Abstract:

The panel looks at the role of former armed groups in post-conflict societies in Africa, including both armed actors who have taken power and become state rulers and armed actors that continue to play a role as opposition parties or organized interest groups.

Long Abstract

After the end of armed conflicts, formerly armed actors often continue to play an important role in post-war politics. While transforming warring actors to politicians can sometimes play a vital role for the gradual transformation from war dynamics to peaceful politics, it may also entrench militant norms, violent behaviour and war-time rethorics. This panel encourages contributions that explore the transformation of armed actors and its impact on political governance. We encourage both the submission of papers dealing with former insurgents in power and those addressing issues pertaining to formerly armed groups or individuals who establish themselves as opposition parties or run as political candidates in post-war elections. Since decolonization, many former insurgent groups have attained power in Africa. While the first generation of liberation movements initially enjoyed broad popular support, more recent rebellions have been strongly identified with a particular ethnic or socio-political constituency, with an important share of the population questioning their legitimacy. We also welcome papers that explore the dynamics of reintegration and (re)mobilization of armed actors in post conflict societies or the role of former combatants as interest groups or veteran organisations. Although the literature often identify them as potentially disruptive actors, many have remobilized peacefully to ask for reintegration benefits or protest against government's failures. In spite of growing research on these topics in recent years, we still lack a an understanding of the effects of rebel-to-party transformations on the dynamics of post-war governance.

Accepted papers:

Author:

Christine Cheng (King's College London)

Paper short abstract:

This study shows how extralegal groups emerged in the aftermath of Liberian civil war as a product of livelihood strategies and the political economy of war. It systematically analyzes how they took control of natural resource enclaves in three sectors of the economy: rubber, diamonds, and timber.

Paper long abstract:

In the aftermath of the Liberian civil war, groups of ex-combatants took control of natural resource enclaves. These groups were widely viewed as the most significant threats to Liberia's hard-won peace. This study shows how extralegal groups emerged as a product of livelihood strategies and the political economy of war. It systematically analyzes their trajectory in three sectors of the Liberian economy: rubber, diamonds, and timber.

This chapter introduces the concept of extralegal groups— how they emerge, develop, and become entrenched over time. It explores their dual nature as threats to the state and as local statebuilders. An extralegal group has a proven capacity for violence, works outside the law for profit and provides basic governance functions to sustain its business interests. This framing shows how political authority can develop as a by-product of the commercial environment, even where the state has little or no presence. In fact, the predatory nature and historical abuses in the name of the state means that government is not always more trusted or better able to look after the interests of local populations than an extralegal group.This sheds new light on violent non-state actors, allowing us to view them as part of an evolutionary process of state-making, rather than simply as national security threats. The findings offer a counterpoint to the prevailing narrative, arguing that extralegal groups have a dual nature and should be viewed as accidental statebuilders driven to provide basic governance goods in their bid to create a stable commercial environment.

Authors:

Arnim Langer
Tarila Ebiede

Paper short abstract:

This article analyzes the post-amnesty politics in Nigeria's Niger Delta region. We argue that the implementation of the Post Amnesty Programme (PAP) has empowered ex-militant leaders to become influential political and economic actors in the Niger Delta.

Paper long abstract:

This article analyzes the post-amnesty politics in Nigeria's Niger Delta region. We argue that ex-militant leaders have risen to become influential political and economic actors since the implementation of the Post Amnesty Programme (PAP) for armed groups in the Niger Delta. Our argument suggests that the rise of ex-militant leaders as 'new big men' in the Niger Delta is a direct - yet unintended - outcome of the design and implementation of the PAP. We explain how ex-militant leaders were co-opted economically through the award of lucrative security contracts. Our findings show that ex-militants gained more power in their communities as they were given control over the access to the PAP programme. Ex-militant leaders subsequently used their positions of economic influence and power to become and remain influential political actors as well, thereby fundamentally changing politics at the community as well as state-level in the Niger Delta Region. This article also seeks to build on theories of neopatrimonialism, especially how patronage politics manifest in the context of peacebuilding in societies emerging from armed conflicts.

Author:

Alison Brettle (King's College London)

Paper short abstract:

This paper looks at the role state brokers play in engendering the political integration of ex-combatants in Rwanda—a context marked by a strong state presence, but where the regime lacks the legitimacy and trust.

Paper long abstract:

After violent conflict, people such as former military commanders, businessmen and local or religious leaders take on a heightened importance, often acting as powerful channels through which politics and governance are conducted. These individuals act as brokers—conduits between communities who would not otherwise be connected, such as ex-combatants and political elites.

Whilst existing research has focused on the importance of brokerage in areas where the formal state is weak and fragile, we know less about what it looks like where the formal state is strong and institutionally present, as in Rwanda. Who acts as state brokers for Rwandan Hutu ex-combatants? How can state brokers legitimise the Rwandan state and the ex-combatants it seeks to politically integrate? Using Social Network Analysis and original fieldwork conducted with over 150 ex-FDLR members, this paper argues that in Rwanda state brokers are individuals who belong to both the Rwandan Hutu "imagined community", and the Rwandan community of the current regime. These individuals may be former combatants, but are often members of the state security forces. They engender political integration through providing ex-combatants with personalised political and prestige resources. Ultimately, when the state is present but legitimacy and trust are absent, state brokers personalise the state: they demonstrate the practical instrumental and relational benefits that ex-combatants can gain through loyalty to and membership of the Rwandan state.

Author:

Johanna Nilsson (Uppsala University )

Paper short abstract:

This article explores RENAMOs dual identity as political party and armed force. It provides an actor-centered analysis of RENAMOs motivations for, and logic of violence, after the 2014 general election. It aims at understanding how violence is motivated, how violence and politics becomes diffused.

Paper long abstract:

Violence and politics are often seen as two contrasting concepts, they should not co-exist in a democratic political system. The reality is however that violence is often used for political leverage. Many post-conflict countries in Africa have political actors that are former armed forces, increasing the tension between violence and politics. Current literature focuses to a large extent on the success or failure of such political parties, but we know little of the motivations and the logic behind the use of violence as expressed by the actors when they choose to resort to violence. This article focuses on understanding RENAMOs (Resistência Nacional Moçambicana) logic of violence after the 2014 general election. RENAMO, the main opposition party in Mozambique, are today existing on the border between political party and rebel movement, they could today be seen as a rebel political party. They were transformed into a political party in 1992 after 16 years as a rebel movement and has since held a strong position as opposition party. The last couple of years have however seen a reversal in RENAMOs identity and actions, going back to the use of rebel warfare. The 2014 general election was the starting point for increased use of violence to gain political leverage against the government. This article provides an empirical in-depth analysis of the motivations behind the use of violence as expressed by RENAMOs elite politicians after the 2014 general election.