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Title:From patronage to peacebuilding? Elite capture and governance from below in Sierra Leone
Author:Labonte, Melissa T.ISNI
Periodical:African Affairs: The Journal of the Royal African Society (ISSN 1468-2621)
Geographic term:Sierra Leone
Subjects:political elite
Abstract:Sierra Leoneans have long seen their governance institutions as unresponsive and inefficient. Following the civil war, the government adopted a plan of fiscal, administrative, and political decentralization to mitigate widespread corruption, enhance accountability, and reverse the over-concentration of central authority in Freetown. The key institutions of decentralization, the chieftaincy system and local councils, play important but uneven decisionmaking, management, and implementation roles, making the process prone to elite capture. This article analyses the peacebuilding implications resulting from variation in strategies to counter elite capture in decentralization. It argues that the UN's variation of this approach, which focuses on relations between elites, has yielded few positive results. A second variation, employed mainly by international and national nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), focuses on rebalancing asymmetries between elites and non-elites, and has been more effective in sensitizing non-elites to demand good governance and accountability. The challenges of redressing power imbalances between chiefdom actors and non-elites remain, and in addition to continued, robust oversight of local councils, the chieftaincy system requires deeper reforms to guard against further marginalization of non-elites and to achieve liberal peacebuilding goals. Notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]