From rebel governance to state consolidation - Dynamics of loyalty and the securitisation of the state in Eritrea

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This paper discusses Eritrea as a contemporary case of state-making grounded in war, a fact that has resulted in the emergence of one of the 'hardest' states in sub-Saharan Africa. The state-making process in Eritrea is looked at with a focus on the legacies of liberation movement governance in the changing dynamics of state consolidation from 1993 to this day. Those dynamics are analysed by reverting to Hirsch-man's categories of 'loyalty', 'exit' and 'voice'. Hirschman's framework is chosen because the category of loyalty and resulting dynamics illuminate particularly well the transitions within the Eritrean state making process.It is shown that the parameters of war that have resulted in the creation of the Eritrean state have led to a particular kind of state characterised by a high degree of loyalty, visible in the propensity of large segments of the population to associate with state activities. Over time and partly based on military defeat in renewed warfare, the exit option has gained prominence particular among the young generation. This has resulted in a drive towards state securitisation combined with measures to make exit a pillar of power consolidation. Those dynamics have not considerably altered the loyalty of Eritrea's transnational citizenry to the wider project of state consolidation. The paper concludes that state consolidation in Eritrea can thus far be analysed as a successful shift from fostering voice via politics of mobilisation to controlling exit and voice in ways that keep citizens tied to the state project. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)793-803
Number of pages10
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012


  • Eritrea
  • Loyalty
  • Rebel governance
  • Securitisation
  • State consolidation

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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