No. 3: The Legislature.
Within the political system, the Legislature, together with the judicial branch,
should serve as the principal checks and balances on the Executive. Given the composition of the new
Congress elected in April 2000, and the increased public support for the political opposition, this arena
could become a more important forum for policy debate and new leadership development. Given the
current uncertainty and polarization, however, we recommend caution in entering into this arena, starting
with a formal sector assessment for legislative strengthening and a preference for complementary civil
society based activities.
No. 4: The Media.
Freedom of expression and the exchange of competing views and information are
essential to check and balance arbitrary use and abuse of Executive power, as well as to enable
competition to take place. The main drawback in the media area is that the practical recommendations on
how USAID assistance could help are limited in their anticipated impact. Specifically, if a major
problem is financial weakness of the broadcast media, and hence self censorship to avoid government
retribution, monitoring the media and providing support to journalists and media owners who are
threatened and harassed would to cope with the problem, but would not address the root causes. Some
other donors are already engaged in this effort in a minor way, but given its overall importance USAID
could make a real contribution by drawing national and international attention to the problem as well as
contributing modest resources.
No. 5: Descentralization and Local Government.
Local government has the potential to serve as a
check against the abuse of executive authority by exercising its power as a decentralized unit of
government. An arena in which new political leadership sometimes emerges, local government assistance
also may serve to increase quality competition among politicians. Additionally, local government is
attractive to donors because it lends itself to tackling inclusion issues getting people more involved in
democratic governance close to home, reinforcing democratic practices and attitudes.
However, the likely impact of USAID assistance to local government will be seriously constrained by the
size of the current D/G program budget, and by the absence of real decentralization coming from the
national policy level. While we recommend specific, low cost actions in this area within existing USAID
programs and budget levels, we would only recommend expanding these efforts if more overall funding
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