Following a devastating civil war, Liberians elected their first democratic government in 2005, hoping for peace and stability. Since then, NDI has been working with legislators to develop lasting institutions and practices that will improve the legislature's effectiveness. As part of the Institute's work to connect lawmakers with their constituents and foster an environment of open and substantive public policy debate, NDI has partnered with STAR radio to launch a weekly radio program: The Legislative Spotlight.
The roundtable discussion features different topics and legislators each week, and has helped lawmakers to have productive discussions on key issues with constituents who call in to the program. Legislators are exposed to diverse opinions from across the country and go on to make more informed decisions about legislation under consideration. It also provides a platform for lawmakers to explain at length their positions on legislation before they vote on the bills.
The show launched in August with an episode featuring two members of the Joint Legislative Modernizations Committee (JLMC), a group of senators and representatives charged with identifying the legislature's challenges and recommending viable remedies. The members discussed current legislation as well as plans for improving the legislature. Listeners have been able to learn about the legislative process and what their elected representatives are doing in Monrovia.
So far, program topics have included a bill leading to legislative redistricting and a constitutional referendum to revise electoral laws. Other episodes have focused on controversial electoral reform legislation, the national budget and women's political participation featuring members of the Women's Legislative Caucus of Liberia.
Senator Blamoh Nelson praised STAR radio for creating a mechanism for legislators to receive feedback from constituencies and allowing senators and representatives to inform the Liberian people about what the legislature is doing.
STAR radio, an independent Liberian news and information station, is one of the only public access radio stations in Liberia that provides national coverage on a reliable basis on FM and shortwave. The station offers programming in 18 local languages and reaches an estimated 65 percent of the population. Its programming is also rebroadcast on rural affiliate stations across the country.
NDI's programming in Liberia is funded by the United States Agency for International Development.
Pictured above: Members of the Women's Legislative Caucus of Liberia discuss the establishment, role, responsibility and activities of the caucus. From left to right: Sen. Clarice Jah, Rep. Regina Teah, Rep. Alomiza Ennos and STAR Radio host Kota Dogba
Published November 6, 2009