Chapter 2 SPLM and State-Building: Playing the “Fragile State” Card

In: State-building South Sudan
Sara de Simone
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This chapter focuses on SPLM’s state-building attempts during the civil war and on how its experience of guerrilla government shaped its state-building project for post-war Southern Sudan. Particularly, it analyzes the strong relationship developed in the latest years of the civil war between the rebel movement and international agencies providing humanitarian aid to Southern Sudan. The chapter argues that international programs represented a new thrust of externally led state-building efforts aimed at establishing a central, unique source of authority capable of controlling the “liberated areas”. Similarly to that of colonial times, this thrust only partially influenced the local process of state formation in Southern Sudan, but provided valuable resources that the local politico-military elite exploited to strengthen its positions and to pursue its agenda. The ability of the SPLM leadership in implementing strategies of extraversion to capture external resources, as well as the depoliticizing discourses around international state-building intervention made this convergence possible, with SPLM governance structures progressively turning into state structures through international support. Such programs contributed strengthening the civil character of the SPLM and to configure what, by the end of the 2010s, already looked like an independent state.

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