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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 14: Governance and group-differentiated citizenship in the African countries

A Constitutional Political Economy Approach

John M. Mbaku

Extract

Constitutional provisions have been used to accommodate difference, especially in countries with significant levels of diversity. Some scholars argue that while the protection provided by constitutional provisions is adequate for many forms of diversity, some forms of difference can only be fully accommodated through special legal or constitutional measures, which are above and beyond the common constitutional rights of citizenship. These special measures include “self-government”, “polyethnic”, and “special representation” rights. In addition to the fact that some of these special powers can pose a threat to integration and nation-building in Africa, they may not produce the anticipated benefits to the group. For example, while a minority group might desire increased self-government powers in order to enhance its ability to maintain its cultural identity, such a group must understand that greater integration into the larger political community can produce improved access to opportunities for economic growth and development.

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