Youth from six African countries are meeting in Kigali for the Annual Youth Academy where they will exchange ideas on how to strengthen their capacities and skills to become more effective agents of positive and constructive change in electoral and political conflicts prevention/mitigation in their respective countries.
The youth were selected from Guinea Conakry, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Ghana and Zimbabwe.
Addressing the academy yesterday, the Spokesperson of the National Consultative Forum of Political Organisations (NFPO) Christine Mukabunani said that senior leaders have the responsibility to educate the young on the democratic way of doing things.
"There is a saying that today's youths are force, hope and leaders of tomorrow. This is true, and as senior leaders, and different organizations, we have the responsibility to educate and train them for political positions in a democratic manner," she said.
Giving an example of Rwanda, Mukabunani said that positive leadership is key in preventing political conflicts and violence, by leaving no one behind in the country's socio-economic transformation and democratic governance.
This she said has also been done because the government believes that if empowered and well-motivated, the youth are major national assets and key drivers for sustainable development.
"Countries may have well written laws, policies and programs, but the most important thing is their implementation, the commitment by the leadership and citizens to achieve tangible results. The role of the youth in any country's development has to always be taken into account," she said.
She called on them to use this opportunity to share experience, knowledge, and tools that will help them to develop strategies aiming to prevent electoral, political violence and conflicts in their respective countries.
This is the third time the Annual Youth Academy is being held in Rwanda.
Speaking to The New Times on the sidelines of the conference, the Program Officer of International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA); Frank Kayitare, one of the organising parties of the academy said that Rwanda was chosen because it is exemplary in the negative and positive roles of the youth.
"Rwanda was chosen because it has had a history of the youth playing both a negative role during the genocide against the Tutsi and thereafter, they also played a very significant positive role. It can encourage young people and young politicians," he said
This, he explained was also encouraged by t the role of the Rwandan youth in driving politics and development today, which he says makes the nation one of the highest performers on the continent, with young people making decisions at the highest level.
Why five countries
Kayitare explained that while the theme regards African youth, only six countries had been picked based on the fact that they are going into the election season soon.
"We naturally picked countries that are going into elections and where the risk of violence is slightly higher than the rest. There are signs that young people could be manipulated into electoral violence and this is some sort of preventive diplomacy," he explained.
The Annual youth Academy is organized jointly in partnership with the African Union, the International IDEA, and the National Consultative Forum of Political Organizations (NFPO).