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Questioning the State: Constitutionalism and the Malian Éspace d'Interpellation Démocratique

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This article examines Mali's Éspace d'interpellation démocratique and its role in constitutional development in Mali. In Africa generally, despite a wave of political liberalisation in the early 1990s, the rule of law and democratic reforms have failed to take root in many countries. Yet Mali has maintained its standing as a model of democratic change, in the region. Its approach to democracy rests on the broadening of popular participation through various innovative institutions. The 'Éspace', by providing an open forum for dialogue on rights has increased popular awareness of the rule of law and human rights. Such awareness serves constitutional legitimacy and political stability. By helping to close the gap between the power of the state and the people, a forum such as Mali's 'Éspace' allows the population to better understand the obligations of the government to the citizens. The article evaluates the strengths of the forum through an analysis of the participants while at the same time identifying its limitations, the potential for it to turn into a hollow institution unless it becomes more inclusive.
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Keywords: Africa; constitutional development; deliberative democracy; human rights; participation; transition

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-06-01

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