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Determinants of successful secessions in post-colonial Africa : analyzing the cases of Eritrea and South Sudan.

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Post-colonial Africa has been riddled by numerous secessionist conflicts. Since the dawn of independence in the 1960s a number of African countries have experienced rebellions involving ethno-linguistic groups or marginalized regions demanding territorial separation from the state in order to establish new independent nations. This includes: Angola (Cabinda), Comoros (Anjouan and Mohedi), The Democratic Republic of Congo (Katanga, South Kassai) Ethiopia (Eritrea, Ogaden, and Oromia, Afar), Mali (Tuaregs), Niger (Tuaregs), Nigeria (Biafra, Niger Delta), Senegal (Casamance), Somalia (Somaliland) and Sudan (South Sudan). However, despite the prevalence of secessionist conflicts in the continent only two cases have succeeded resulting in the establishment of new states: Eritrea in 1993 and South Sudan in 2011. This research seeks to explain the determinants of successful secessions in post-colonial Africa. This objective is achieved through an analysis of the dynamics of secession in Eritrea and South Sudan. Without any pretensions to establish theoretical causal generalizations, the study examines the conditions that have evolved out of the particular experiences of Eritrea and South Sudan to contend that both domestic and international politics play a decisive role in determining the outcome of secessionist conflicts in the continent. The research favors the qualitative methodological approach, makes use of descriptive data gathered from secondary sources and is informed by the theoretical assumptions of Wood‟s comparative analytical framework on secession and Coggins‟ international-level model of state birth.


M.A. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg 2014.


Secession -- Eritrea., Eritrea -- Politics and government., Secession -- South Sudan., South Sudan -- Politics and government -- 21st century., Theses -- Political science.