Youth Pledge Peace in 2016 General Elections

Published By UNNGOF |  January 25, 2016

As the Uganda’s general elections draw nearer, there have been indications of possible post-election violence involving youths.  The massive recruitment of crime preventers by Uganda Police Force followed by other youth militia counter groups aligned to opposition candidates can only leave a confirmation of the analysis.

In a bid to avert a likely catastrophe of violence, The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Uganda with support from the US Mission in Uganda, organized a national dialogue to discuss and build consensus among stakeholders and citizens on youth responsibility in promoting peace in the 2016 general elections and beyond. YALI Uganda also partnered with The Youth Coalition on Electoral Democracy, the Electoral Commission accredited organization for the 2016 General Campaign.

YALI is an alumni organization of young Ugandans who participate in the Mandela Washington Fellowship, President Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative. It aims at motivating and engaging young people in leadership development, business and entrepreneurship, civic participation, democracy and governance, sexual and reproductive health information and rights.

The dialogue followed the recent violence witnessed in the presidential campaigns in various areas of the country. The national dialogue was organised under the peaceful participation in electoral processes “I PLEDGE” campaign project that is aimed at enhancing the peaceful participation of youth and women in the February 2016 general elections and beyond in Uganda as voters, educators, supporters or candidates. This dialogue was hosted at Hotel Africana on 14th January 2016 from 9:00am to 4:00pm. It was be attended by 150 participants including government agencies, national and international stakeholders, media houses, and development partners, youth and Civil Society Organizations.

The entire day’s discussion topics rotated around the role of youth and women in fostering peaceful and nonviolent electoral processes.

Dr. Sylvia Tamale in her key note address indicated that youth were both on the receiving and giving end of violence in Uganda. Therefore they need to take charge of the situation and shun all forms of violence.

You simply can’t wish away violence, you must deal with the issues perpetuating it,” said retired Bishop Dr. Zac Niringiye during a panel discussion.

It was indeed very clear that if youth didn’t decide to use non-violent means, they were bound to be manipulated by the politicians. Beyond pledging to be peaceful, it was important that youth demand for an end to the causal issues like calling for disbanding and recruitment of crime preventers by government.  Beyond that youth had to play their fundamental role of casting their vote and voting.

Let us pledge peace and cast our votes,” Charles Mwanguhya; a media practitioner called upon the youth.

The YALI team will drive this campaign in several other districts while mobilizing young people to pledge peace in the coming elections. While the time seemed rather short, the impact will be felt through young people making their individual pledges.