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Power-sharing in Africa's war zones: how important is the local level?

[journal article]

Mehler, Andreas; Tull, Denis M.; Zanker, Franzisca; Simons, Claudia

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Abstract Research on power-sharing in Africa remains silent on the effects of national peace agreements on the sub-national level. Conversely, most armed conflicts originate and are fought in (or over) specific areas. A plausible hypothesis would be that for power-sharing to have the desired pacifying effect throughout the national territory, it needs to be extended to the local level. Based on fieldwork in six former hotspots in Liberia, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) we find that there is hardly any local content, including local power-sharing, in national agreements. However, contrary to our hypothesis, neither local content (inclusion of actors or interest) nor local-power-sharing (either introducing a local power balance or monopoly) are indispensable to effectively bring about local peace, at least in the short-term. On the contrary, it might even endanger the peace process. The importance of the sub-national level is overestimated in some cases and romanticised in others. However, the history of spatial-political links, centralised policies, and the establishment of local balances or monopolies of power ultimately play an important role.
Keywords Liberia; Burundi; Democratic Republic of the Congo; war; civil war; conflict; domestic security; political power; peacekeeping; peace process; West Africa; Central Africa; Africa
Classification Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture; Peace and Conflict Research, International Conflicts, Security Policy
Free Keywords power-sharing
Document language English
Publication Year 2013
Page/Pages p. 681-706
Journal The Journal of Modern African Studies, 51 (2013) 4
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0022278X13000645
ISSN 1469-7777
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications
This publication is with permission of the rights owner freely accessible due to an Alliance licence and a national licence (funded by the DFG, German Research Foundation) respectively.