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Securing Reform? Power Sharing and Civil-Security Relations in Kenya and Zimbabwe

by Alexander Noyes


While international actors use power sharing to resolve a vast range of conflicts in Africa and view state security reform as critical to achieving durable peace, there is a distinct lack of studies that examine the relationship between power sharing and security sector reform. This paper argues that, in the cases of Kenya and Zimbabwe, two main factors have determined the divergent security reform outcomes of the respective power-sharing governments: the degree of political influence within the security sector and the strength of the security reform content of the power-sharing agreement. In Zimbabwe, the rise of “security politics” gave the security sector a high degree of political influence, which, combined with weak security reform content in the power-sharing deal, resulted in little movement on security reforms. In Kenya, the state’s loss over the control of violence gave rise to the practice of “militia politics,” leading to a low degree of political influence in the security sector, which, when coupled with strong security reform content, facilitated considerable—albeit halting and not fully implemented—progress on state security reforms.

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Alexander Noyes is a research associate in the Africa Program at the Institute for Defense Analyses. The research for this paper was conducted while the author was a graduate student at the African Studies Centre at Oxford University. He has conducted fieldwork in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, and Angola, and his work has appeared in various publications. The author would like to thank Nic Cheeseman for his indispensable guidance throughout, David Anderson and Dorina Bekoe for their advice and comments, Gypsy Moore for her editing prowess, two anonymous reviewers for their helpful feedback, and the dozens of individuals interviewed for their generosity and candor. All remaining errors are his own.