Reality TV show seeks honest civil servant in graft-hit Liberia

By Kieran Guilbert

DAKAR, (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Featuring contestants from a caretaker and nurse to a lawyer, a reality television show in Liberia is on the hunt for a different kind of star – a civil servant who embodies honesty in a country often blighted by accusations of corruption.

Integrity Idol is asking the public to vote for the most honest civil servant in the West African nation, as part of a drive to promote greater integrity among bureaucrats and tackle a perception of graft and mismanagement within the government.

Ebola-hit Liberia, which recently announced three new cases more than two months after being declared free of the virus, has been dogged with reports of state corruption as it recovers from years of civil war and the world's worst known Ebola outbreak.

The country has stabilised, secured debt relief and attracted billions of dollars in investment under the rule of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who has been in power since 2006, but her opponents have accused her of corruption and nepotism.

Rights advocates say many of the country's resource deals are marred by fraud and do not give the state adequate revenue, and Liberia's anti-corruption watchdog said in April $800,000 spent on the Ebola response was not properly accounted for.

"Too often the approach to issues of accountability and integrity is naming and shaming – which has proven ineffective," said Lawrence Yealue from Accountability Lab, which organised the inaugural Integrity Idol in Nepal last year. READ MORE OF THIS STORY ON UK DAILY MAIL


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