The focus on non-centralism includes proclaimed federations, countries with some federal arrangements, and local governments with some autonomy. Given the enormity of peace, governance and development challenges facing many African countries, research on the role that non-centralism can play in addressing these challenges is vital, and should pursue the following agenda: first, because unitary states often engendered ethnic-based conflicts, their functionality should be examined. Second, has federalism been able to resolve these conflicts and hold countries together by accommodating minority groups? Third, could other forms of territorial accommodation of ethnic groups provide peace dividends, such as autonomy arrangements and secession? Fourth, could autonomous local government facilitate a more democratic and developmental state? Fifth, what causes the gap between non-centralist policies and laws, on one hand, and practice on the other, including the role of the political traditions of centralism, the patrimonial state, and the absence of constitutionalism?
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