The politics of decentralisation reforms in Sierra Leone are unpredictable and instructive. This article, based on fieldwork, analyses party politics within the context of decentralisation, arguing that the imperatives of post-conflict decentralisation are not necessarily embedded in technical considerations, but in processes of political compromise and accommodation. Decentralisation has helped facilitate the re-emergence of the old political order, in that the country’s main political parties have secured a consensus through which they have reconfigured the post-conflict state on their own terms. This study reveals that the narrative of a ‘divide’ within the political class is exaggerated, and illustrates the homogeneity and interconnectedness of its interests. The extent to which the ‘peace’ will be sustained by this compromise is uncertain, but this framing is useful in understanding the political economy in which ‘fragility’ and ‘peace’ co-exist, illuminating the political class’s agency, as well as its ability to ‘unite’ against ‘others’.
- Sierra Leone, Sierra Leone People’s Party, All People’s Congress, decentralisation, politics, development