n African Renaissance - Neopatrimonial impunity in post-war Liberia and the regional resonance

Volume 10, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1744-2532
  • E-ISSN: 2516-5305


Neopatrimonial politics has become one of the key subjects amongst political scientists due to the ubiquity of cases that fit this phenomenon. In essence, the concept refers to the confusion observable in many developing countries across the globe between the public and private spheres or public office and the office holder in a given state. In its general sense and with reference to African politics the theory argues that the African governing elite use public bureaucratic institutions as a façade. In reality, political authority for the day-to-day running of the state lies primarily with a small oligarchy controlled by a ruling "strongman". This article uses Liberia as a case study to elucidate this concept. Other cases from Africa are cited to illustrate the points discussed with reference to Liberia. The conclusion is that President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has unwittingly joined other African leaders who use public office to consolidate their power.

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