Intractable Concepts and Conflicts: Evaluating power sharing agreements in Africa

Title: Intractable Concepts and Conflicts: Evaluating power sharing agreements in Africa
Authors: Bergin, Melanie
Date: 2013-09-09
Abstract: Power sharing has been attempted Angola, Comoros Islands, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo, Chad, Cote d‘Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Dijibouti, Liberia, Mali, Somalia, South Africa and Sudan. Kenya, Madagascar, and Zimbabwe have also implemented power sharing arrangements as means of managing post-electoral violence. The logic of power sharing is built on the notion that through designing institutions composed of elite coalitions, proportional representation, group autonomy, and minority vetoes conflict can be effectively managed. This logic is built upon pervasive essentialist conceptions of identity which can over determine the way in which ethnicity is a salient organizing force within states. Evaluating the historical development of the state and identity in Africa shows that assumptions about ethnicity, and the assumptions behind institutional engineering, ignore the complexities of power relations and societal dynamics. This obscures the relationship between political and civilian actors, and denies their agency to be proponents of both peace and war. Looking outside these assumptions it is clear that power sharing has not operated as it was intended across the continent and the implementation of such agreements can exacerbate the exclusion of various groups within a country.
CollectionAffaires publiques et internationales - Mémoires // Public and International Affairs - Research Papers