chapter  3
Political involvement
Pages 27

In this chapter the avenues ex-combatants perceived as open to them for political participation will be investigated. Formerly, the ex-combatants have used violence as a form of political expression (Utas 2003, p. 15); the question now is what alternatives do they see as being viable in the new regime? Where and how do they involve themselves in politics? Previous knowledge of excombatants’ political participation is sketchy at best; not enough research has been done on this essential issue. Often the return to peace can lead to a sense of powerlessness for ex-combatants (see e.g. West 2000, pp. 180f, 188, 191; McKay 2004, pp. 19, 25; Nilsson 2008; Utas 2003, pp. 15, 229f). This would give cause to expect a sense of frustration among ex-combatants, making them a least likely case for political participation (although possibly more likely for violent participation if this frustration builds up). However, there is some evidence from Uganda that experience with violence can lead to more extensive participation, among both ex-combatants and survivors (Blattman 2009; Blattman and Annan 2009).