Vulnerable Youth is a Deadly Weapon
Written by Amb. Timothy R. Yoko
Edited by Joshua T. Gbarnah
Liberia is expected to go to election comes 2023 that is about 22-23 months from now if the election be held in October as always.
Violence perpetrated by supporters of politicians during the December 8, 2020, midterm Senatorial Elections drew local and international attention and this I hope should not be repeated.
Many young people served as actors during these events as a greater proportion of the youthful population has continuously been used by politicians to trigger violence during elections.
It is an undeniable fact that young people must be seen playing positive roles in promoting peace, governance, and democracy.
More awareness raising for youth is required, which could be done in several ways like, holding dialogue meetings, town hall meetings, focus group discussions, training workshops, establishment of more tertiary and skills learning institutions, provision of micro credits in the forms of revolving loan schemes, establishment of local cooperatives and so on.
Engaging young people and other socially excluded groups, such as women and persons living with disabilities actively into the mainstream of promoting peace and non-violence, as well as enhancing peaceful democratic transition and enhancing an efficient system of governance, has remained a challenge.
I believe by integrating young people into the mainstream of peace, and decision-making processes, the likelihood of eruption of violence and bad governance would be minimized. All of us need to know by now that unless the vulnerability of young people is addressed, early warning signs of conflicts for potential election – related violence are visible.
These early warning signs including a prevalence through the media of aggressive languages and hate speeches between and among political parties and supporters; rumors of politically motivated attacks; violent activities of politically charged youth; drug abuse etc. As well as assaults on women has taken over the social media and is seen in communities around us.
All this could prove to be inciting and could undermine any electoral process.
The need for political actors to be focused on inclusive approaches to prevent violence in the ongoing by-elections will serve as a dress rehearsal for 2023 general and presidential elections.
We all know that prevention is cheaper and cost-effective but debate around how and why prevention works is often left unaddressed.
Elections can establish the ground for good governance when effectively managed.
At times, pre-and post-election processes can spur widespread political violence especially in fragile societies. Preventing election violence before its eruption is not just a possibility, but the advisable option to utilize and reinforce existing or established early warning mechanism. However, politicians continue to fail the commitment of prevention.
Preventing election violence is more than just holding free and fair elections; yet we need to remember that a peaceful electoral process is not a guarantee for good democracy. National authorities like (CDC Government) bear the primary responsibility of ensuring that an electoral process is transparent, inclusive, and peaceful.
Political parties, local media, Civil society organizations including women and youth can also play a constructive role, only if given the space to participate, and is accorded the opportunity to express their grievances.
Democracy remains a constant struggle for the equal and active participation of civil society organizations including women, youth and the physically challenged in all spheres and at all levels, particularly with respect to contributing to a more inclusive, free, fair, and credible elections as well as decision – making in wider context of governance arrangements and more inclusive approaches.
I believe this is time for the CDC government to open the space for inclusion.
The role of religious and traditional leaders in the entire pending electioneering process is also important because these are people that have their own government and people that they control.
Do you know that some women listen to their religious leaders then their marriage husband? Yes, ask the religious community!
Having an open civic space is critical to every democratic election and there is no doubt that civil society has a key role to play in reducing election-related conflict dynamics and promoting a peaceful electoral environment.
A national dialogue will also contribute immensely to the consolidation of peace, thus subsequently enhancing prospects for sustainable peace and a developmental process that would lead to consultative national development.
It can also reduce the tendencies of tensions, malice and grudges among political parties, politicians and political supporters. In order to continue upholding clear democratic values, the security apparatus, including the police must act professionally in their service delivery beginning now and during the entire electoral process.
The security apparatus must also ensure neutrality (not CDC or CPP Police, ruling government or opposition police) and maintain the proper observation and upholding of human rights and democratic standers at all levels, in according the relevant provisions enshrined in the constitution that links to all electioneering processes to achieve the realization of peaceful, credible, free, and fair elections.
Voting being a civil right and responsibility, no movement of citizens on voting day should be restricted, because acting otherwise will not only contravene constitutional but global human rights standards in general.
As 2023 gets closer, I believe this is time for the government to engage CSOs, youth and women groups for them to begin playing their roles in promoting peace amongst the youth of the country.
I am from one of the best counties (Bong) in Liberia. I want to use this medium to call on our politicians in the county not to use the young people in these elections for violence purposes.
Let’s educate them about peace and good governance.
PART 2 OF THIS ARTICLE WILL FOCUS ON WHAT LIBERIAN CALLS ZOGOES DIRECTLY.
This article was written by Timothy R. Yoko
Mr. Yoko is reading Mass Communication @ Smythe Institute of Management and Technology University