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From Soldiers to Politicians: Transforming Rebel Movements After Civil War

Jeroen de Zeeuw, editor
From Soldiers to Politicians: Transforming Rebel Movements After Civil War
ISBN: 978-1-58826-580-7
ISBN: 978-1-62637-349-5
2007/296 pages/LC: 2007024805

"This book covers an important topic, the transformation of armies and paramilitaries into political actors.... The contributors are known experts in their field and the quality of the case studies is very high."—Susan L. Woodward, The Graduate Center, City University of New York

"The case studies are excellent, well-written and carefully researched—and will attract a broad readership."—Terrence Lyons, George Mason University

"The lessons learned and the questions posed in this study are of great importance. The waves of rebellion are not yet behind us. Studying and learning from the underlying reasons for rebellion is a matter of high relevance for governance, national as well as international."—Jan Pronk, former UN Special Representative for Sudan


In the transition from war-torn societies to stable multiparty democracies, what is the role of former rebel leaders? Can rebel movements effectively transform themselves from military to political organizations? From Soldiers to Politicians explores when and how militias succeed in reorienting their goals and practices toward legitimate political activities.

The authors present eight theoretically grounded country studies, focusing in each on the historical background of the rebel movement, its (attempted or successful) transformation into a political party, and the factors explaining success or failure. Bridging the academic-policy divide, they identify concrete lessons from previous transformations processes, as well as options for future international involvement.


Jeroen de Zeeuw is a social development specialist at Timu Community Development Associates. He is coeditor, with Krishna Kumar, of Promoting Democracy in Postconflict Societies.


  • Understanding the Political Transformation of Rebel Movements—J. de Zeeuw.
  • El Salvador: The Success of the FMLN—C. Wade.
  • Mozambique: RENAMO's Electoral Success—C. Manning.
  • Sierra Leone: The Marginalization of the RUF—P. Richards and J. Vincent.
  • Burundi: The Deficient Transformation of the CNDD-FDD—W. Nindorera.
  • Palestine: Hamas's Unfinished Transformation—P. Scholey.
  • Sudan: The Incomplete Transition from the SPLA to the SPLM—J. Young.
  • Afghanistan: Political Parties or Militia Fronts?—A. Giustozzi.
  • Sri Lanka: The Continued Armed Struggle of the LTTE—C. Smith.
  • International Involvement in Rebel-to-Party Transformations—L. van de Goor and J. de Zeeuw.