Bureaucrats at war: The resilient state in the Congo

Rebels often portray themselves as state-like to legitimize their rule, yet little is known about their on-the-ground relations with the administrators of state power—official bureaucrats. Drawing on internal armed group records from the Democratic Republic of Congo, this article argues that rebels’ state-like image is more than a simple veneer: Bureaucrats actively sustain state institutions and recruit rebel support during war.

 It develops a theory of the sources of leverage that bureaucrats use to negotiate with rebels. These interactions entail dual struggles to sustain the structures and symbols of state power and to shape the distribution of control over these institutions during war. 

On first front, bureaucrats can use their official status to market the symbols of state legitimacy—official certificates, codes, and paperwork—to rebels. On a second, to recruit protection for administrative posts. Pre-existing routines of noncompliance, like parallel taxes and sabotaged information, can use bureaucratic discretion and opacity to limit rebels’ takeover of state structures. This view from the ground demonstrates the real-time continuity of bureaucratic practice through daily paperwork and exchange during war. 

It contributes to research on rebel governance by illustrating new competitions for wartime statehood and illustrates the empirical practices of states seen as ‘juridical’ or weak.

Source: https://academic.oup.com/afraf/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/afraf/adaa001/5788230

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