Warlord Democrats in Africa

Ex-Military Leaders and Electoral Politics

Edited by Anders Themnér


The first systematic study about what effect the electoral participation of ex-military leaders in Africa has on post-war security

Post-war democratization has been identified as a crucial mechanism to build peace in war-ridden societies, supposedly allowing belligerents to compete through ballots rather than bullets. A byproduct of this process, however, is that military leaders often become an integral part of the new democratic system, using resources and networks generated from the previous war to dominate the emerging political landscape.

The crucial and thus-far overlooked question to be addressed, therefore, is what effect the inclusion of ex-militaries into electoral politics has on post-war security. Can 'warlord democrats' make a positive contribution by shepherding their wartime constituencies to support the building of peace and democracy, or are they likely to use their electoral platforms to sponsor political violence and keep war-affected communities mobilized through aggressive discourses?

This important volume, containing a wealth of fresh empirical detail and theoretical insight, and focussing on some of Africa's most high-profile political figures – from Paul Kagame to Riek Machar to Afonso Dhlakama – represents a crucial intervention in the literature of post-war democratization.

Author Bio

Anders Themnér is a senior researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute and an Assistant Professor in Peace and Conflict Studies at the Department of Peace and Conflict Research (Uppsala University).

Table of Contents

  • Introduction: Warlord Democrats: Wartime Investments, Democratic Returns? - Anders Themnér
  • 1. Pompier-pyromanocracy: Mbusa Nyamwisi and the DR Congo’s Inflammable Post-settlement Political Order - Judith Verweijen 
  • 2. Apotheosis of a Warlord: Paul Kagame - Lars Waldorf
  • 3. Discourses of Peace and Fear: The Electoral Navigations of Sekouh Conneh and Prince Johnson in Post-war Liberia - Carrie Manning and Anders Themnér
  • 4. Afonso Dhlakama and RENAMO’s Return to Armed Conflict since 2013: The Politics of Reintegration in Mozambique - Alex Vines
  • 5. From Warlord to Drug Lord: The Life of João Bernardo ‘Nino’ Vieira - Henrik Vigh
  • 6. Shape-shifters in the Struggle for Survival: Post-war Politics in Sierra Leone - Mimmi Söderberg Kovacs and Ibrahim Bangura
  • 7. Riek Machar: Warlord-Doctor in South Sudan - Johan Brosché and Kristine Höglund
  • Conclusion: Ambiguous Peacelords: The Diminishing Returns of Post-war Democracy - Anders Themnér


‘A much needed volume taking us beyond the simple solutions so forcefully propagated by the international community in the aftermath of civil wars.’
Mats Utas, author of African Conflicts and Informal Power

‘This collection of excellent articles provides evidence for the wide scope of opportunities and constraints facing former warlords in peacetime.’
Andreas Mehler, University of Freiburg

‘A valuable corrective to broad-brush takes on post-conflict governance on the continent. Through detailed case studies it accomplishes that most rare feat: thinking African politics on its own terms.’
Danny Hoffman, University of Washington

‘Brings together a superb team of specialists. This book will be of great value to those seeking to understand the complex transformations that characterize ending violence and building post-war political orders.’
Terrence Lyons, George Mason University

‘A major work. Extremely insightful and clear, it is likely to spur a new research programme in the study of post-conflict politics and state-building. It should be widely read.’
William Reno, Northwestern University

‘An excellent collection of essays. The political economy analysis it offers should be of particular interest to those – quite especially the UN – trying to build peace and secure durable political settlements to long-running conflicts.’
Mats Berdal, King’s College London

'I would recommend this book to scholars and general readers interested in studying the dynamics of the state, institutions, and political leadership in post-Cold War Africa.'
Paul Chiudza Banda, African Studies Quarterly


Publication Date: 15 April 2017
264 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781783602483
Hardback: 9781783602490
eBook ePub: 9781783602513
eBook PDF: 9781783602506
eBook Kindle: 9781783602520

Appears in

Why is peer review so important?

Learn more about the various types of peer review, why it’s so important, what the social and political considerations of peer review are and how we use it at Zed Books.