Rebels, Revenue, and Redistribution. The Political Geography of Post-Conflict Power-Sharing in Africa


Do rebel elites who gain access to political power through power-sharing reward their own ethnic constituencies after war? We argue that power-sharing governments serve as instruments for rebel elites to access state resources. This access allows elites to allocate state resources disproportionately to their regional power bases, particularly the settlement areas of rebel groups’ ethnic constituencies. To test this proposition, we link information on rebel groups in power-sharing governments in African post-conflict countries to information about ethnic support for rebel organizations. We combine this information with sub-national data on ethnic groups’ settlement areas and data on night light emissions to proxy sub-national variation in resource investments. Implementing a difference-in-differences empirical strategy, we show that regions with ethnic groups represented through rebels in the power-sharing government exhibit higher levels of night light emissions than those regions without such representation. Our findings help to reconceptualize post-conflict power-sharing arrangements as rent-generating and redistributive institutions.

British Journal of Political Science. 51(3): 981-1001.
Felix Haass
Post-Doctoral Researcher