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NAYCOM engages youth on elections non-violence

January 22, 2018 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma 

NAYCOME

The National Youth Commission, with funding from Child Fund Sierra Leone, has in a one-day symposium engaged youth groups across the country on non-election violence.

Speaking at the well attended symposium by youth groups last Thursday, 18th January, 2018, at the Presidential Lounge,Siaka Steven Stadium, Chairman of the National Youth Council, Prince Tholley, said the theme for the 2017 International Youth day made it clear that young people are  prepared for  non-violence in the March 7th elections.

He said  the country’s population is dominated by youth below the age of 35 years and that they were also aware that those young people have the strength and intellect, adding that  if they are involved  in the process, the 2018 elections  would be peaceful.

He said the symposium was to discuss issues and way forward on non-violence during the elections.

According to him, there have been only two main political parties in the country-the All People’s Congress (APC) and the main opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP) –adding that the emergence of new political parties is making the political arena very much too tough.

He said all the parties depend on a specific set of individuals that can maintain or disturb the peaceful process of the elections; hence it is good to engage youth on non-violence.

He informed youth that they have a greater role to play before, during and after elections in ensuring that the country has peaceful elections come March 7th, this year.

Director of Youth at the Ministry of Youth Affairs, Rev. Charles Moinina, said the revised youth policy has to do with principles that apply to young people because much is expected of them in society.

He said they rely heavily on young people for the development of the country and that whenever they wanted to maintain peace they work with the youth because they can easily be used as agents to achieve peace.

He called on young people to be the backbone of development and not to be violent people.

He reminded them that Sierra Leone is now at the stage of conducting elections and that there has already been unprecedented violence across the country, of which people are of the strong belief that young people are the cause.

Speaking on behalf of the Civil Society, Africa Regional Director of Peace Africa Alliance Consulting, Education and Training Centre (PAACET), Charles Lahai, said the symposium underscored the importance of youth in the country to demonstrate responsibility because election is not about only the voting day.

He said youth were now considered as  force for good and that they should  put hands together to build a better Sierra Leone.

He further that reports and other baseline evidence studies have shown that youth are playing important role in nation building and that the meeting could help to create a positive mindset among youth in the country.

Also speaking, Director of Planning and Inter Agency Relations at the Office of the National Security, Francis Langumba Keili, reminded all that the country is approaching elections and that engagement of such nature was  much important especially for them at the security sector- as they have a great role to play in ensuring everybody goes about their business unharmed.

He disclosed that they have started working to ensuring peace before, during and after elections, and that they have found out that the issue of youth violence is taking the form of regionalism and ethnicity, which is now a key security threat they were working on.

He noted that they would face security challenges in the March 7th elections far worse than in 2007 and 2012, especially when they have done their threat assessment in the sixteen electoral districts across the country.

He said in 2012 they manned 6,000 plus polling stations across the country, but in 2018 they would man 11,200 polling stations because constituencies have been increased, coupled with an  increased number of political parties.

He said violence was applied in almost all the bye-elections in the country over the years because politicians were using drugs and alcohol on the youth to cause problem.

Commissioner of the National Youth Commission, Anthony A. Koroma, said the meeting has a lot to impact on the youth  so that they could contribute positively to youth participation in the forth coming elections.

He called on them to take the massage of the meeting to others that were not in attendance and tell them that it is time for youth to play their roles and responsibilities and abstain from any form of violence before, during and after election.

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