What will make the Libyan rebels' government-building attempts successful?
Guest blogger Laura Seay interviews the author of a book on governance by rebel groups about what Libya's National Transitional Council will need to do to build a stable government.
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Mampilly: This is a question I often get when talking to activists from around the world, but especially Sri Lankan Tamils. Tamils and South Sudanese activists actually met many times during their respective peace talks during the early 2000s in Norway. Indeed, they have long studied and professed sympathy for each other's struggles and strategies. Both communities were facing similar crises (state oppression of a minority community never accepted as an equal part of the nation) and conditions on the ground (long standing insurgencies fighting conventional wars from territory under their control). If you had asked me or many others which insurgency seemed more likely to achieve its goals, based on the capacity of their militaries and those of the incumbents they were fighting, the LTTE seemed more likely to succeed. But we know what happened in both cases. From my perspective, the key difference was American patronage for the South Sudanese struggle, which the Sri Lankan Tamils never had. Without it, I doubt the SPLA would be where it is today.Skip to next paragraph
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The challenges for the newly independent Government of South Sudan (GoSS) have much to do with the SPLA's governance performance during the war, which was lacking in many ways. Specifically, SPLA administrators working through a body known as the Civil Authority of New Sudan became heavily dependent on religious groups and international NGOs to provide services like education and health, and on traditional authorities to develop a system of justice and ensure social order. As a result, the South Sudanese population became accustomed to looking towards non-state actors to meet their daily needs. If you look at the actual governance performance of GoSS today you can see many of the same dynamics as leaders continue to focus on the admittedly challenging security situation while ignoring basic service provision. As I argue in the book, these patterns of governance can be sticky and will undermine the legitimacy and authority of a new government if not transformed systematically. Unfortunately, thus far, the SPLA has not proven up to the task.
One other thing to think about is what might have happened had the North African revolutions swept through a non-divided Sudan as they did in neighboring Egypt. It is at least possible that instead of two Sudans today, a unified Sudan might have succumbed to the pressures from protesters and begun a process of democratic reform. Ironically, this was more in tune with what the SPLA and its late leader, John Garang, had always called for.
TiA: What does your research tell us about likely outcomes for the success or failure of the NTC in Libya? Based on what we know today, do they strike you as more similar to the RCD-Goma, the SPLM, or the LTTE?