In the era of international peacebuilding, how does a rebel group seek to legitimate its rule once it is in power? This thesis is primarily concerned with this question. By applying legitimation theory (Beetham 1991; Chabal & Daloz 1999) in a descriptive, exploratory case study, the thesis analyzes how the Sudan People s Liberation Movement (SPLM) seeks to consolidate its rule during the current peace process in southern Sudan. The process is assumed to be dependent on internal as well as external factors.
With its multiethnic composition, complicated and war-torn history, as well as a generally low level of development, southern Sudan is considered a difficult case in terms of peacebuilding. SPLM emerged from Sudan s second civil war (1983-2005) as the South s main rebel group, but several local groups complicate the situation. Intergroup grievances in the region are considerable.
The main findings indicate that SPLM has the willingness to address the issues at stake but lack the institutional capacity to do so. Also, maintaining and further legitimating their power are dependent on external parties, and the latter s interests diverge to a considerable extent. Of particular concern is the role of the National Congress Party (NCP), SPLM s Islamist senior partner in the national government, which seems to undermine or simply ignore the parts of the peace agreement that seriously challenge its power.
The findings provide some nuances for existing theories about peacebuilding (Doyle & Sambanis 2000; Paris 2004) and civil war resolution (Walter 2002). Most importantly, though, they indicate that legitimation theory can fill a void in peace research concerning local actors. By encompassing other theories into one comprehensive framework, legitimation theory can provide a greater overview of the overall peacebuilding picture.