Separating the sheep from the goats among Africa's separatist movements

Bruce Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Currently at least 12 separatist/secessionist movements are engaged in negotiations or
campaigns of violence (guerrilla and regular armed conflict) in Africa. But though
they are agreed on the need for radical constitutional change, they are not agreed on
the solutions. More than that, they rarely maintain a unity of aim within their ranks at
any given moment of time, or a consistency of aim over time. It is these shifting
political objectives and the nature of the calculations behind them that this article
intends to examine.
At every stage of the conflict, the movements’ leaders have to assess the advantages
of a secessionist policy as opposed to a separatist (or re-negotiated unitary state)
policy. This article finds that among the most crucial factors to be weighed are popular
support, state response, international recognition, and personal opportunities.
There are important consequences of this shifting of political objectives. It makes
typologies based on their political objectives and/or methods of limited value; political
support problematic; attempts by governments to induce separatist leaders to defect or
compromise worthwhile; certain elements in the population of the homeland more
vulnerable; and factionalism, the biggest hindrance to successful separatist movements.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-86
JournalTerrorism and Political Violence
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2001

Bibliographical note

The full text of this item is not available from the repository.
This is an electronic version of an article published in Terrorism and Political Violence 13 (1), 66-86. Terrorism and Political Violence is available online at:


  • separatist movements
  • africa
  • politics


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