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Decentralisation and Constitutionalism in Africa

Edited by Charles M. Fombad, Nico Steytler


The end of the Cold War and the wave of democratic changes that took place afterwards in Africa led to a return to multiparty democracy within the paradigm of constitutionalism and respect for the rule of law. One of the critical steps that numerous African countries took in the 1990s to promote constitutionalism was to decentralise power, marking a departure from the heavily centralised systems of governance inherited from the colonial period. The centralisation of power, typically characterised by the personalisation and concentration of power in the hands of leaders and privileged elites in capital cities, was a crucial enabling condition for the repressive regimes of the recent past. For the first time since independence in the 1960s, however, there was an attempt—one still under way—to disperse and share powers at all levels of governance. Although numerous studies have looked at aspects of Africa’s decentralisation efforts—some of them by way of a comparative perspective—hardly any have critically examined its diverse manifestations in contemporary constitutional design and its implications for fostering constitutionalism. This book attempts to examine the variety of types and degrees of decentralisation found across Africa, and hopes not only to further understanding and appreciation of current trends, tendencies, and patterns and point to new directions for future research, but also to facilitate cross-national learning and cross-fertilisation of ideas among African governments still in the throes of an uncertain transition.

Bibliographic Information

Charles M. Fombad, editor

Nico Steytler, editor

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