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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 8: The importance of legitimacy for compliance and constitutional maintenance in Africa

A Constitutional Political Economy Approach

John M. Mbaku

Extract

Respect for and voluntary acceptance of the law by a majority of citizens is critical to the maintenance of law and order in any country. In fact, it is very difficult to maintain a constitutional order if the majority of citizens do not voluntarily accept and respect the law. Citizens are not likely to voluntarily accept and respect the law if they do not view the constitution and hence, the governmental regime, as legitimate. Legitimacy is enhanced if (1) the laws are those that the people can and are willing to obey; (2) the people see the law as a mechanism for organizing their private lives; and (3) citizens, especially members of minority ethnic and religious groups, see the law as protecting their beliefs and practices, as well as their customs and traditions, from infringement by state- and non-state actors.

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