The hidden costs of power-sharing: Reproducing insurgent violence in Africa
African Affairs
abstract
This article analyzes some factors underlying the spread of insurgent violence in Africa. It focuses on the impact external factors have on power struggles on the continent. The first of these is the unsteady support for democracy from Western donors, which has impeded more far-reaching domestic changes in much of Africa. Second are wider changes in the international setting that dramatically enhanced the international standing of armed movements in the post-1989 period. The article argues that the interplay of both factors has induced would-be leaders to conquer state power by violent rather than non-violent means. This becomes particularly evident in regard to Western efforts to solve violent conflict through power-sharing agreements. The hypothesis is put forward that the institutionalization of this practice for the sake of ‘peace’, i.e. providing rebels with a share of state power, has important demonstration effects across the continent. It creates an incentive structure would-be leaders can seize upon by embarking on the insurgent path as well. As a result, and irrespective of their effectiveness in any given case, power-sharing agreements may contribute to the reproduction of insurgent violence.