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With the Citizen Dialogues Madagascar project reaching its end, the nine participants involved in the radio component took part, from 16 to 28 October 2017, in a final session for perfecting the devising of radio programmes that allow citizens to express their views.
This time, the emphasis was placed firmly on election-related problems – a key issue for the media in Madagascar, which will need to perform the dual role of not only monitoring and scrutinising the voting process during the elections that will be held in the country next year, but also conveying the expectations of the people and putting their questions across.
"The media do not have the resources for collecting information in remote areas. During elections, their coverage is also biased towards the richest candidates. They speak little about the manifestos being put forward by the candidates, and rarely take citizens into account," explains Mbolatiana Raveloarimisa, Executive Secretary of the Coalition of Madagascan Radio Stations.
From the country's electoral code to ethical rules to citizen's concerns about the upcoming elections, a great many subjects have been tackled, and have formed the subject of various debates over the airwaves, which have been made possible thanks to the involvement of contributors from the Independent National Electoral Committee for Transition (CENI) and its local radio stations, or from the CSO KMF-CNOE, who are already working to raise citizen awareness about the electoral process and the opening of the lists, which is scheduled for December. Other actors and partners of the project, such as the Andohatapenakale Development Council (CDA), the Coalition of Madagascan Radio Stations, as well as various municipal mayors, have also actively contributed to the following radio debates, recorded in front of a public audience:
How are the media covering the elections from a citizen-based perspective?
What expectations do CSOs and citizens share, and how are they working together?
The 2018 elections: rules, procedures and issues.
In what ways do traditions positively and negatively impact the electoral process?
After two weeks' work, each of the participating journalists set about producing five debates focusing on election-related issues.
“This training has allowed me to better pinpoint the key issues surrounding the elections. I've also learnt how to organise a public debate more effectively, gather the necessary material, and contact guests. I will continue this work with my three other colleagues from radio stations in Mahajunga, so that we can conduct debates in close synergy!" Louis-Eugène Rakotonirina (RNM Mahajunga)
The final stage of the project is the Citizen Dialogues competition, which will take place in December 2017 and will reward the best radio productions focusing on the theme of the citizen-led control of public initiatives.