Different aspects of exile have become a prominent topic in conflict research. Scholars have examined the influence of refugees and diaspora groups on armed conflict, particularly through ideological and / or material support, and the effects of exile return after conflict. Negotiation and mediation research has dealt with fragmentation and splits in leadership – exile and local – during peace processes. The topic of how exile leadership shapes armed groups’ characteristics and the conduct of war has not yet been tackled systematically.
The paper will examine the characteristics of civil wars involving exile leadership of armed groups based on the examples of the African National Congress (ANC) / Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) in South Africa and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) in Indonesia. By choosing armed groups that existed prior to the move of core leadership components into exile, within and between comparison of the effects is possible. The focus of the paper is an analysis of the influence of exile leadership on other characteristics of rebel movements, such as ideology, structure, strategy, and external support. It will also consider the larger effects on the ongoing conflict and develop options for engaging groups with exile leadership.