Accepted paper:

State brokers and the political reintegration of ex-combatants in rwanda


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.

panel Pol19
Politics after war: armed actors in post-conflict societies [CRG African Politics and International Relations]