Predatory rebellions and governance: The national patriotic front of liberia, 1989–1992

William S Reno*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

10 Scopus citations


Rebels focused on profit sometimes provide civilian governance, contrary to the expectations of political economy and “new war” analysts. But the governance that these rebellions supply differs considerably from that of insurgents trying to win the hearts and minds of non-combatants. Charles Taylor's NPFL controlled most of Liberia between 1990 and 1992. The chaotic environment that it created would appear to help substantiate that a “greed” approach means rebels do not govern. In fact, it was integral to maintaining a distinctive political regime. Its war was not “new” and the spaces it controlled were not “ungoverned.” Violence and patronage were integral to the NPFL regime. In both respects NPFL leaders extended political practices they had learned in prewar Liberia, especially from President Samuel Doe's regime. Violence served accumulation. Maintaining insecurity facilitated personal loyalty to political leaders and military commanders. Profits from commercial ventures went into the pockets of leaders and commanders. The veneer of a government administration, legislature, and courts was constructed primarily for an unsuccessful effort to gain international recognition and for additional opportunities to collect bribes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationRebel Governance in Civil War
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781316182468
ISBN (Print)9781107102224
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

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