Youth in the East African Community have been called upon to play a vital role in ensuring that the forth coming elections in the bloc’s member states are peaceful.
Tha call was made by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of East Community, Robert Ssali, during the closure of the EAC youth forum on rights and good governance earlier this week.
Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi will hold presidential elections this year while Ugandans will hold theirs elections next year.
“You have a critical role to play during elections to ensure peaceful polls,” said Ssali.
He told the youth not to look at their counterparts in the parties they don’t support as enemies because that is the cause of tension, especially during election periods.
“The energy of the youth can be constructive to our countries, but can as well be destructive if not used appropriately,” he said, adding that there is need for the youth to be at the forefront in fostering unity among the East Africans.
Speaking to The New Times, one of the participants, Joseph Kimani, said that the three-day forum had been able to come up with a draft of the East African youth policy, something he described as a historical milestone in the lives of the youth in the community.
According to Kimani, among the issues tackled in the policy are employment, poverty eradication, health, and education.
In their recommendations, the youth also proposed the establishment of youth desk at the secretariat and the sectoral councils which could deal with youth affairs.
Ssali said that it is only through the full participation of the youth that the region’s integration agenda can widen and deepen since they make up the bigger percentage of the E.A population.