This study analyses the special institutions of restraint introduced in order to secure accountable government. Most African countries are equipped with a range of such institutions: Auditor Generals, Ombudsman institutions, Human Rights Commissions, Independent Electoral Commissions, Judicial Services Commissions, Media Boards, Anti-Corruption agencies etc. What purpose do they serve? Under what conditions do they contribute to more accountable democratic governments? Are more such institutions always better? And what are the motivations and dynamics that lead to their establishment? We distinguish between three main forms of institutions of restraint: 1)Institutions aimed at securing economic accountability. 2)Institutions aimed at securing accountability for rights - that is, to expose power-abuse encroaching on citizens' rights. 3)Institutions devised to secure the integrity of the political institutions and the rules of the democratic game.