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Proposals booklet on multiple legitimacies - paper n° 2010-04

For a new institutional engineering that codifies multiple legitimacies : Proposals for rebuilding the State

By Assane Mbaye (Alliance pour Refonder la Gouvernance en Afrique, April 2010)

How can the African State be rebuilt on the basis of lessons learned from observing what has happened in the past? After independence, the new States were blinded by the temptation of uniformity with the imported Nation-State model.

An approach to the State set up by colonisation and later imposed by post-colonial powers and international financial institutions was implemented. Then, in the 1990’s, came decentralisation policies with con-substantial weaknesses. How can this experience be put to use to rebuild the State? More precisely, how can the African State be institutionalised? This proposals booklet hopes to answer these questions.

The Alliance for Rebuilding Governance in Africa has used this document to explain its vision of African Nation-States, communities of citizens yet also communities of peoples, States that are necessarily traversed by a social diversity that has historically rebelled against their boundaries. This social diversity requires, indeed it demands, that pluralism be the organising principle in the search for unity. And this social diversity is particularly prevalent and important at the local level.

The identity of the Nation-State, the principle of pluralism and local territories are brought together in an approach to governance to implement the programme to rebuild the State in Africa through three major proposals:

  • recognise pluralism and apply it to a new engineering of local institutions that reflect the diversity of power and its foundations;

  • recognise pluralism and incorporate the diversity of local territories and powers in rebuilding constitutionalism;

  • and, finally, use pluralism to organise law and justice by creating bridges between the State order and extra-State orders, in particular and for example by giving social mediation official status in the resolution of conflicts.

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