‘The State Stops at PK 12’ – i.e. 12 kilometres from the capital, Bangui.
The situation described by this statement, often heard in the Central African Republic, seems to conform to the objectives of the currently fashionable policies of decentralisation and structural adjustment – for example, to end ‘too much state’. However, the absence of the state in the rural areas of the CAR is so striking that the position in certain respects has almost reached the level of caricature. It also reflects the more general situation in other parts of the continent where the excesses of a centralised, over-staffed post-colonial régime can coexist perfectly with the pronounced absence in the rural areas of certain functions which are commonly supposed to be provided by the state, including basic administration and justice, as well as social, educational, and health services.
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