The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) on Tuesday adopted a motion for a resolution to celebrate the International Day of Democracy on September 15 by setting an agenda for discussion on what Parliaments are doing to ensure political participation of the youth.
The motion, by MP Nusura Tiperu (Uganda), is in line with the 2007 UN Resolution which stipulates that each September 15 should be celebrated as an International Day of Democracy and encouraged governments to strengthen national programmes devoted to the promotion and consolidation of democracy.
Tiperu said: “Youth in EAC constitute around 63 per cent of the population, therefore, making up a large portion of the active population. The EAC’s greatest resource is its youthful population and with their active and full participation, EAC can surmount the difficulties that lie ahead.”
In moving the motion, Tiperu, among others, stressed that she was mindful of provisions of the EAC Treaty, especially Articles 6 and 7 on fundamental and operational principles, including adherence to the principles of democracy, the rule of law, transparency, equal opportunities, gender equality, as well as the recognition, promotion and protection of human and people’s rights.
MP Straton Ndikuryayo (Rwanda) stressed the need for robust youth representation in the affairs of the Community.
According to Ndikuryayo, youth should have the right to fully participate in the activities of their society,” adding that “Democracy needs the youth and they also need democracy.”
Even if there has existed a regional youth policy for many years, he said, there is need to put in place a youth platform at the EAC level.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), which EALA and all national Assemblies of Partner States subscribe to, has encouraged all its member parliaments to annually mark September 15 as the International Day of Democracy.
The IPU is proposing to all parliaments to organise activities for this year’s International Day of Democracy under the theme “Democracy 2030.”
The IPU proposed three themes; future-oriented, youth-oriented, and development-oriented, that could be adopted.
Under the “youth-oriented” theme option which has already been picked for focus, one of the questions pondered is: what are parliaments doing to ensure the political participation of young people and prepare the future of democracy? The other is, what progress has been made and what needs to be done?
Regional parliaments are required to assess themselves on what they are doing to ensure the political participation of young people and prepare the future of democracy as well as what progress has been made and what needs to be done.
Tiperu stressed that the African Youth Charter recognises the right of every young person to participate in all spheres of society and obliges countries to facilitate the creation or strengthening of platforms for youth participation in decision-making at the local, national, regional and continental levels of governance.
Adopted in 2006, the African Youth Charter is a political and legal framework which provides strategy and direction for youth empowerment and development activities at the continental, regional and national levels across Africa.
Tiperu also reminded the Assembly that on March 23, 2015, EAC ‘Youth Ambassadors’ presented a petition to the Assembly urging it to advocate for key issues concerning the youth, including their participation in national and regional politics.
“I am convinced that the theme for the 2016 International Day of Democracy is critical to our region, it is timely, and a significant gear in addressing the challenges of the youth in our region, specifically in facilitating their participation in national and regional politics and leadership for the sustainable development of our region and our continent,” Tiperu said.