Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Local governance and ethnicity in Sierra Leone
Author: Mbawa, Henry
ISNI:       0000 0004 2747 0862
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2012
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Recent local governance reforms in post-war Sierra Leone emphasise the need to extend the benefits of citizenship to rural inhabitants. Yet, these reforms have tended to focus on the establishment of local councils as the main means to enhance political participation and development, ignoring the salience of unequal relations between ethnic groups, the role of chieftaincy, and historically complex centre-local relations. This thesis focuses on the relationship between Sierra Leone's dual local government system and inter-ethnic relations, and the implications for centre-local relations. It examines the extent to which recent post-war local governance reforms address the type of colonial and post-colonial politics that had disenfranchised the vast majority of rural Sierra Leoneans. The thesis also examines whether top-down reorganisation of local democratic politics can provide sufficient autonomy for local institutions to influence the attainment of local citizenship. The thesis found that the attainment of rural citizenship has increasingly come to be defined by emerging contestations and negotiations between ethnic groups in both local councils and chieftaincy. These interactions and contestations have their roots in the colonial imagination, but have also been shaped by the turpitude of Sierra Leone's post-colonial politics characterised by ethno-political divisions and centralisation. The thesis concludes that the ability of local government institutions- particularly local councils-to influence inter-ethnic relations is severely undermined by the failure of post-war local governance reforms to deal with the legacy of Sierra Leone's complicated centre-local relations and incorporate chieftaincy, which enjoys some legitimacy and support among rural inhabitants due to its proximity and influence over rural socio-economic life. Consequently, devolution has created significant opportunities for an indirect central takeover of local politics and intensified local ethnic conflicts. This situation is made possible through a veiled triangle of centralisation characterised by limited fiscal resources, power, and centralised ethno-political mobilisation within the council system. In this context, chieftaincy has emerged as the main conduit through which these inter-ethnic relations are negotiated because of the relative autonomy it enjoys from central . political elites.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available