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Protecting Minority Rights in African Countries

A Constitutional Political Economy Approach

John M. Mbaku

In this enlightening book, John Mukum Mbaku analyses the main challenges of constitutional design and the construction of governance institutions in Africa today. He argues that the central issues are: providing each country with a constitutional order that is capable of successfully managing sectarian conflict and enhancing peaceful coexistence; protecting the rights of citizens – including those of minorities; minimizing the monopolization of political space by the majority (to the detriment of minorities); and, effectively preventing government impunity.
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Chapter 7: Process-driven constitutional design, legitimacy and minority rights: the constitution-making process

A Constitutional Political Economy Approach

John M. Mbaku

Extract

While a constitution has many functions, three of the most important are to (1) define and protect the rights of citizens; (2) establish the governing process or machinery of government; and (3) determine how amendments to the constitution would be undertaken. In drafting the constitution, it is important to consider three types of legitimacy—upstream, process, and downstream legitimacy. The final constitutional draft will enjoy upstream legitimacy if the constituent assembly is chosen through free, fair and credible nation-wide elections; process legitimacy if the constituent assembly makes its decisions democratically; and downstream legitimacy if the constitution is ratified through a process that enhances and embodies the popular will (e.g., by nation-wide referendum).

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