Rebel Rulers

Rebel Rulers: Insurgent Governance and Civilian Life during War

Zachariah Cherian Mampilly
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Rebel Rulers
    Book Description:

    Rebel groups are often portrayed as predators, their leaders little more than warlords. In conflicts large and small, however, insurgents frequently take and hold territory, establishing sophisticated systems of governance that deliver extensive public services to civilians under their control. From police and courts, schools, hospitals, and taxation systems to more symbolic expressions such as official flags and anthems, some rebels are able to appropriate functions of the modern state, often to great effect in generating civilian compliance. Other insurgent organizations struggle to provide even the most basic services and suffer from the local unrest and international condemnation that result.

    Rebel Rulers is informed by Zachariah Cherian Mampilly's extensive fieldwork in rebel-controlled areas. Focusing on three insurgent organizations-the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka, the Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD) in Congo, and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in Sudan-Mampilly's comparative analysis shows that rebel leaders design governance systems in response to pressures from three main sources. They must take into consideration the needs of local civilians, who can challenge rebel rule in various ways. They must deal with internal factions that threaten their control. And they must respond to the transnational actors that operate in most contemporary conflict zones. The development of insurgent governments can benefit civilians even as they enable rebels to assert control over their newly attained and sometimes chaotic territories.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6297-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xviii)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xix-xxiv)
  6. 1 INTRODUCTION: Governing Rebels
    (pp. 1-24)

    On June 30, 1963, Isaya Mukirane, a leader of the Bakonzo people of northwestern Uganda, declared the formation of the Rwenzururu Kingdom after leading a secessionist campaign from the newly independent Ugandan state.¹ Earlier, President Milton Obote had proclaimed a state of emergency over the mountainous region seeking to undermine the kingdom’s existence (Rubongoya 1995). But despite the best efforts of the Ugandan government, the rebel monarchs did not buckle. Instead, Rwenzururu leaders, in addition to their military wing, organized a complex governmental bureaucracy composed of eleven ministries headed by a cabinet. They also developed a legislature and a public...

    (pp. 25-47)

    Consider the following. The areas controlled by Sri Lanka’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam during the past two decades in the north and east of the country were knit together through a politico-judicial architecture that directly mimicked the façade of the Sri Lankan state.¹ As central as the insurgents’ military ability to control the territory was the performative aspect of the Tiger state, which included impressive physical edifices as well as elaborate costuming of all personnel, who were organized into sophisticated bureaucratic arrangements across military and civil lines. It was no secret that LTTE leaders sought to replicate the trappings...

    (pp. 48-92)

    On a visit to the lakeside city of Goma in eastern D.R. Congo in 2004, I rode through a rotary in the center of town then under the control of the RCD-Goma rebel organization. Workers wearing ragged uniforms displaying the insignia of a defunct municipality were busy tending to a freshly planted garden of flowering shrubs. Struck by the incongruity of attending to the cosmetic appearance of a rotary when surrounded by the combined destruction from years of war and a debilitating volcanic eruption, I asked my boda-boda (motorcycle taxi) driver whether these types of superfluous public works projects were...

  9. 4 THE TWO FACES OF THE TIGER: Sri Lanka’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
    (pp. 93-128)

    During the war in Sri Lanka, crossing into insurgent territory from land controlled by the incumbent government felt no different than crossing the militarized border between India and Pakistan.¹ A mile of no-man’s-land walled off with razor wire separated the Government of Sri Lanka’s (GoSL’s) immigration post from its LTTE facsimile. On both sides of the partition, uniformed young men and women dutifully asked similar questions in different idioms—Tamil and Sinhala. Baggage was slowly unpacked and repacked haphazardly. And though the atmosphere was tense, both sides exhibited an eerie calm in their interactions with outsiders. A foreign visitor was...

  10. 5 BUILDING A NEW SUDAN: The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army
    (pp. 129-166)

    Before my first visit to New Sudan, I wandered around Kampala, Uganda, in search of a “visa” from the SPLM/A’s representative in the city. I was told to find the offices of an aid organization run by Sudanese exiles with close ties to the rebel group. But after presenting our request to the director in front of a room filled with Southern Sudanese, we were met with blank stares and abject silence.¹ Dismayed but not defeated, we managed to arrange a meeting with an SPLA commander at a popular Kampala café frequented by Sudanese exiles. Over milky tea, Commander Riak...

  11. 6 RESURRECTING BULA MATARI: The Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie-Goma
    (pp. 167-208)

    In 1964 Pierre Mulele, a deputy of Patrice Lumumba—the deposed prime minister and former independence leader—began a rebellion in the western Congolese province of Kwilu. He soon came to control an area the size of Belgium, where he ruled his followers with a mix of socialist rhetoric and assurances of magical protection. Despite limited resources, Mulele attempted to organize an ambitious governmental structure within his territory, distinguishing between the military and political commands, with departments focused on medical welfare, social affairs, and popular support (Welch 1975). Soon after, in the eastern part of the country (contemporary South Kivu),...

    (pp. 209-230)

    In the preceding pages I put forth a framework for understanding variation in insurgent governance systems, stressing how a rebel command’s interactions with a constellation of actors shape civilian administration through the interactions’ influence on specific insurgent structures and governance practices. The previous three chapters illustrated aspects of the framework by examining the range of outcomes produced by the governance efforts of insurgencies in Sri Lanka, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Though the case studies provided observable support for several of the propositions, they do not focus directly on the causal mechanisms that link the various hypotheses to...

  13. 8 RULES AND RESISTANCE: New Agendas for Studying Insurgency and Governance
    (pp. 231-256)

    Narratives of war often spotlight the martial elements. Strategy, weaponry, soldiering, violence, and casualties constitute the basic jargon with which we discuss civil war, privileging the bellicose over the humdrum of daily life. This is true even in the face of evidence that the costs of war are disproportionately borne by those with no military ties beyond living in areas where the conflict is active, as Carolyn Nordstrom eloquently notes above. Casualty numbers, which include more civilians than combatants, reflect this simple reality.

    Indeed, studies have confirmed that “battle deaths,” the number killed by military operations, including soldiers and civilians...

    (pp. 257-264)
  15. References
    (pp. 265-280)
  16. Index
    (pp. 281-294)