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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 12: Enhancing the protection of minority rights in Africa: consociational democracy

A Constitutional Political Economy Approach

John M. Mbaku

Extract

For many years, both political scientists and legal scholars have studied how to govern divided societies. The main issue has been to determine the type of governance system that is most suited for plural (or divided) societies—that is, those with significant levels of ethnic, religious, social, and cultural diversity. One of those scholars is Dutch political scientist, Arend Lijphart, who studied his native Holland, itself a divided society, and developed a model called consociational democracy. Consociational democracy, whose main focus is inter-elite accommodation, was promoted by Lijphart as a model of government capable of dealing effectively with the problems of political fragmentation. Unfortunately, the elite-accommodation model is a top-down, elite-driven, and non-participatory process and, hence, it is not likely to provide Africans with sustainable and stable governing systems.

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