Last week in Burundi, the head the FNL rebel group, famous for recruiting child soldiers, massacring refugees, and leading the front on other fun war pastimes, was integrated into the government. The notoriously vicious Agathon Rwasas, in what seems like the biggest joke on the Burundian population ever, was appointed head of the nation’s social welfare agency.
Additional government positions allocated to the FNL include head of the Joint Mechanism for reviewing the ceasefire, president of commercial services at the Office of Tea in Burundi, and in what seems to be the most strategic international displacement of the FNL members, the second adviser at the Embassy of Burundi in India.
Integrating ex-combatants into government has become standard at the UN. It is generally considered the best way to co-opt socially and politically marginalized leaders into the existing power structure. Anecdotal evidence suggest that ex-combatants generally want to go back to and that appointing rebel leaders into government makes them feel big and powerful. However, little data exists on the outcomes – the impact on local communities, policy making process, and general well being of the population – of these processes. Beyond assumptions, which might not be the strength of the development industry, post-conflict reintegration remains unsubstantiated by evidence.
Until a bit more research comes out though, Burundi takes the cake for appointing ex-rebels into government positions that mock the population!