By David Harris
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Extra resources for Civil War and democracy in West Africa : conflict resolution, elections and justice in Sierra Leone and Liberia
National conferences as a part of political transitions, events that have so far been largely confined to francophone African states in relatively peaceful environments, are another possible post-conflict avenue. indd 31 7/25/2011 5:28:00 PM 32 CIVIL WAR AND DEMOCR ACY IN WEST A FRICA Zaïre. e. 109 A reliance on civil society, a theme that emerged in national conferences and generally in the 1990s, is, however, fraught. 110 There are certainly very important societal processes, notably the contribution to conflict resolution of elders’ councils in Somaliland and local cathartic processes in many post-war settings.
109 A reliance on civil society, a theme that emerged in national conferences and generally in the 1990s, is, however, fraught. 110 There are certainly very important societal processes, notably the contribution to conflict resolution of elders’ councils in Somaliland and local cathartic processes in many post-war settings. However, to place the peace-making onus on civil society is asking too much of non-combatant, embryonic and often marginal organisations. Decentralisation has featured in some thinking111 – the unhealthy concentration of power and aspirations at the core may be addressed in this way.
There have indeed been a disproportionate number of traumatic conflicts in Africa. indd 14 7/25/2011 5:27:57 PM INTRODUCTION 15 entirely any references to African ‘culture’ or, indeed, to rational selfinterest as explanatory factors of the extreme forms of African violence, Thandika Mkandawire looks instead at the players, often urban dwellers seeking power in the urban centres forced to fight in an alien countryside where the state has receded. 48 Inevitably, extreme forms of violence have local explanations, which are often linked to, on the one hand, extreme conditions, and on the other inadequate or extreme leadership.