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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 13: Polyarchy, participation and minority rights in Africa

A Constitutional Political Economy Approach

John M. Mbaku

Extract

Another approach to dealing with political fragmentation was developed by American political scientist, Robert A. Dahl. He called his pluralist theory of democracy “polyarchy”. He argued that a political system can only reach the democratic ideal if it meets the following five criteria: effective participation; voting equality at the decisive stage; enlightened understanding; control of the agenda; and inclusiveness. Although Dahl’s model has been criticized by many scholars, Africans can still learn from it, especially when it comes to political participation. For Africans, the main issue is how to design and adopt institutional arrangements that maximize the participation of all groups, including minorities, in political and economic markets.

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