Post-Conflict Regime Transition in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Case of Eritrea and Namibia



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Most of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa achieved their independence after protracted liberation struggles. What explains the variances in their ultimate political development? Why, for example, did some post-conflict states evolve into democracies, while many others failed to do so? Through a comparative case study of Eritrea and Namibia, this dissertation analyzes the dynamics of political transitions and examines why these transitions vary among countries despite similar historical trajectories. Events leading to elf-governance in Eritrea and Namibia resulted in different outcomes, with Eritrea adopting a non-democratic one-party rule, whereas Namibia began an electoral democratic transition as they attained independence. The selection of these two countries is based on the similarity of their transitions from European colonies to African colonies, as well as the consequential liberation struggles that eventually brought independence to each nation. The case could be made for analyzing the historical transitions of several other countries. However, this study asserts that part of the explanation in this case study can be generalized to include three clear categories that apply to other post-conflict situations. First, this research examines in detail the political cultures of the liberation groups in the two countries. Second, this study explores the strategies devised to end the liberation struggles (either through military victory or negotiated settlement). Finally, this investigation interprets the role of international actors in the development of regime types during the post-independence period in both countries. Comparative analysis provides a rich array of colonial legacies, cultural and political tensions, military strategies, colorful (and destructive) personalities, and democratic initiatives that either failed or succeeded. Taken together, the scholarly literature on these topics provides a stable platform upon which this dissertation’s theoretical structure has been assembled.