The Rule of Law and Poverty Eradication in Africa

in African and Asian Studies
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Africa’s struggle against mass poverty and deprivation is examined using a constitutional political economy approach. It is argued that the failure of many African countries to deal effectively with poverty is due to the fact that since independence, these countries have not been able to engage in democratic constitution making to provide themselves with institutional arrangements that guarantee the rule of law. Such institutions must adequately constrain civil servants and political elites, enhance peaceful coexistence, and provide an enabling environment for the creation of wealth. The process to reconstruct and reconstitute African states has been on going since decolonization. The Arab awakening, which began in North Africa, and the pro-democracy demonstrations of the mid-1980s and early-1990s, are a continuation of this effort to secure the laws and institutions that enhance the creation of wealth and provide an enabling environment for the eventual eradication of poverty. Unless the African countries provide themselves with institutional arrangements that guarantee the rule of law, poverty will remain pervasive.

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  • 13

    Ibid. p. 5.

  • 15

    Victor T. LeVine (1964) provides an excellent examination of opportunistic top-down elite-driven constitution making in the un Trust Territory of Cameroons under French administration which gained independence in 1960 and took the name Republic of Cameroon. In fact except for Guinea all French colonies in Africa accepted Charles de Gaulle’s offer of free association as autonomous republics within the Communauté française (French Community) and thus base their constitutions on the French Constitution of 1958. This process effectively deprived the citizens of the francophone African countries of the opportunity to select their own laws and institutions (see also LeVine 1997).

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