African youth from various political organizations in their respective countries are exchanging views on how they can learn from one another to contribute to preventing and mitigating electoral and political violence.
This is happening in Kigali at the Third Annual Youth Summer School Academy 2019, themed ‘Youth Contribution to the Prevention and Mitigation of Electoral and Political Violence in African countries’.
Seven participants from each country are from main ruling and opposition parties from Guinea Conakry, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Ghana and Zimbabwe.
One of the participants, Ewald Quaye Garr, the manager of political parties at the Institute of Democratic Governance in Accra, Ghana said that Rwanda has been an example for other countries of how it’s people managed to solve the challenges that they had 25 years ago.
“They (Rwandans) learned from their culture, what they had. Other countries should also look within and see what they have in their culture, their values to design the free world and contribute to reducing political violence,” he said.
Meanwhile, the event is taking place in Kigali, at Lemigo Hotel jointly organized by the National Consultative Forum of Political Organizations (NFPO), the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA)and the African Union (AU).
Louis Antoine Muhire, the CEO of Rwanda Cooperation Initiative, said that the main challenge Africa is facing is that its people do not understand its values and culture.
According to him, the costs of this is ignorance of our values and culture which leads to confusion.
He adds that when people are confused, they end up getting involved in violence.
“If you don’t understand where you came from, things will not be positive. You will not even know where you are going.”
Meanwhile, some believe in youth engagement and inclusion as well as policy implementation among others, in mitigating acts of violence.
Opening the workshop on Monday, NFPO Spokesperson, Christine Mukabunani, noted that NFPO has been institutionalized as a permanent platform for political dialogue, consensus and national cohesion.
“We believe youth cadres from African countries are the future political leaders,” she said.
She added that, “Countries may have well written laws, policies and programs, but the most important thing is their implementation and the commitment of leadership and all citizens to achieve tangible result.”
Ambassador Salah Hammad, the Head of the African Governance Architecture (AGA) Secretariat at the African Union (AU) said that the AU has introduced a number of norms to ensure youth participation in democratic process, and urged youths to key into them.
“The Africa we want cannot be built without active youth participation,” he said.
Maurice Mboula Jean-Claude, Senior Program Officer for IDEA Africa, said that Africa’s youth population is almost 1.32 billion as of 2019.
He noted that this presents opportunities and challenges for the continent’s peace and development agenda.
“We are asking them to draft their national youth-led strategies to prevent electoral and political violence. This is the first time that we are bringing together youth from different parties; ruling parties, opposition, militias to discuss the root cause of the problem,” he said.
Meanwhile, each country is selected with a criterion of having upcoming election in the current calendar year, 2019 and national political dynamics.
Some of the common reasons youth say may lead them to get involved in electoral and political violence is unemployment or underemployment, high monetization of politics, under representation, winner- takes- all- system, limited civic education, failed political promises, and misunderstanding of power, among others.