Constructing Democracy in Transitioning Societies of Africa: by Susanna D. Wing (auth.)

By Susanna D. Wing (auth.)

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66 Central to this conception is the idea of dual authority involving both traditional and modern forms of governmental authority. 69 Such arrangements require a willingness to act experimentally, in order to address the particular realities of each state. 70 Rather than the dichotomy between modern and ancient that Tully finds in North America, where hidden constitutions have struggled to survive under the yoke of modernism, the ancient constitutions of Africa are widely respected both by governing officials and by local communities.

In societies in transition, in which constitutional government is relatively unstable, challenges to traditional authority threaten governmental authority in general. How then can such societies cope with this conflict over rights? Legally, international charters and declarations ratified by Mali overrule both Malian constitutional law and tradition; however, practice rarely leads to cases being brought before the courts. To the extent that women’s rights are protected by the constitution we can argue that, at least in theory, all women are recognized as equal citizens.

The Éspace d’Interpellation Démocratique (EID) or Question and Answer Assembly, discussed in chapter six, was an annual event established during Konaré’s term in office that was followed on radio and television by many urban residents not attending the forum. The debates allowed for the spread of discussion of human rights violations, and thus a broader understanding of these rights. Importantly, the EID spawned similar events including a regional EID in Sikasso in 2001. Women’s associations have led the way through seminars in rural areas that focus on women’s political activism and civil rights.

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