By Yusufu S. Bangura
The President of Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, (SLAJ), Ahmed Sahid Nasralla said young people must played active role in promoting peace and non-violence in the upcoming elections.
He made this statement on Wednesday 7th June during a one day election sensitization symposium organized by Equals Sierra Leone at Peace Mesum, Special Court in Freetown.
The topic for the symposium was ‘Promoting the culture of peace and non-violence elections in 2023’
“I want young people to know that they have a vital role to play in promoting peace and non-violence before, during and after the June 24th general elections because over the years, youths are the main people that perpetrate violence in the country, so am encouraging them not to engage in any violence activity that will destroy their future,” he said.
President Nasralla highlight the significance of peaceful and non-violent elections in fostering democratic values and ensuring social harmony in the country because young people have a vital roles and contributions they can make to upheld the peace of the country.
He said the entire society including political leaders, citizens, civil society organizations, and media have a role to play in promoting a culture of peace during elections.
He added that youths can actively participate in the electoral process by registering to vote, volunteer as election observers or assist in voter education initiatives to raise awareness about the importance of peaceful election.
He emphasize that non-violent elections allow for the free expression of diverse opinions, fostering political participation and inclusivity because peaceful transitions of power through elections strengthen democratic institutions can inspire trust in the electoral process.
He mentioned that there are so many roles young people can play to maintain a peace and stability in the country which are active participation and engagement, awareness raising, promoting inclusive participation, harnessing technology for positive change, role models and change agents among others.
“Young people have a powerful voice and can advocate for peaceful elections through various channels, such as social media, community gatherings, or public events. They can also use their creativity to develop campaigns, slogans, and visual materials that promote peace, tolerance, and non-violence during elections,” he said.
While speaking on harnessing technology for positive change, he said young people are often at the forefront of utilizing technology for social change because they can leverage digital platforms to spread messages of peace, non-violence, and civic responsibility.
He further said young people needs to develop innovative apps, websites, or social media campaigns messages that provide accurate and reliable information about elections, candidates, and voting procedures before going to the polls.
In the area of role models and change agents, SLAJ president said young people can serve as role models by embodying the values of peace, tolerance, and non-violence in their own lives and interactions, adding that they can also demonstrate peaceful and respectful behaviour to inspire others.
“I want to encourage young leaders to make good use of their platforms by sharing stories of successful peace building initiatives, highlighting the positive outcomes of non-violent elections coming 24 June. By actively engaging in these roles, they can contribute significantly to the promotion of peace and non-violent elections, ensuring a brighter future for their societies,” he encouraged them.
He concluded by calling for collective action and commitment from all stakeholders to ensure that elections are conducted in a peaceful and inclusive manner because peaceful elections cannot only benefit individual nations, but it can contribute to global peace and stability.