We carried out a standout-speak out against electoral related violence campaign amongst student and out of school youth in communities
The non-violence campaign was initiated through a process of training selected youth groups from all over the country as non violence ambassadors
During the training youth were imparted with skills to promote peaceful and non-violent youth participation in the electoral activities, the process involved identification of desired determination to teach non-violent acts, allow inner feelings to emerge as youth groups, create a climate that is atmospheric for inspiration, and action, identify common interests, design related programs that encourage young people to stay away from violence that seems to target the young population due to their incapacities
Uganda Youth Network organised a youth conference represented by youth civil society groups further aimed at co-creating a young generation that is violent free in their capacities as young people
Civic education of peace promoters was initiated further intending to create a spirit of nationalism, patriotism and unity amongst young people to take charge in the promotion of peace in their communities.
The campaign aimed at creating a responsible young generation that is violent free and further looking forward to moving the process of positive change on their communities. This too looked at identifying what roles young people need to systematically play to avoid violence in their communities and how better we can practically participate in promotion of peace and non violent acts
The process involved training of peace promoters, civic education of youth through school and community outreach, signing of peace declaration forms putting up non-violence posters and this ended with a peace march organised by Uganda youth network
The process raised the level of awareness of the youth on the threats and dangers of electoral violence and further imparted best practices on how to speak out-stand out from such acts.
o Community Speak out- Stand out on Non- Election Violent Outreach Program
o School outreach program
o Signing of peace declaration forms
o Popularizing the Youth Manifesto
o Peace March
· The community outreach on Speak out- Stand out on Non- Election Violence targeted a youth population of Kisenyi ii and iii in a disadvantaged communities with so many social-economic, social- political, social cultural aspects of development that tends to undermine positive living.
However with the common understanding that election does not cause violence, rather violence is deeply rooted relatively on issues of social, political, economic aspects that undermine positive living.
The community clean up exercise was the activity organised as a tool to mobilise young people, bring political actors and spirit of togetherness despite the culture different aspects of mixed population involving Somalis, Congolese, Eritrean, Sudanese and Ethiopians
· The school outreach activity involved Kampala Senior Secondary school, and Kyambogo University targeting young population to further champion a network of young people in non-violence action and as peace promoters in their communities; it involved displaying of Non- Election Violence, Play your part Poster, Signing of Peace Declaration Forms, popularizing the Youth and Citizen’s Manifesto with the demand to making it a working document
· Signing of peace declaration in youth participation was an activity that was carried out through out the activity cycle that started in July 2010, the youth declaration of peace and non- violent participation in the political process was a declaration to document the signatures of young people pledging to refrain from violent participation in the electoral process
· Popularizing the youth manifesto was a campaign that highlighted the political, social, economical demands of the young people as a process that would encourage them to participate meaningful and peacefully through out the process.
In a larger context, the citizen’s manifesto, women agenda were openly discussed for young people to internalize and design workable plans that would support them in the process of accountability from the political actors.
· Peace March ended the long term campaign that involved stake holders, youth ambassadors of peace, civil society partners and action systems like the police, electoral commission
The process was an engaged participation process which objectively entailed mobilizing and organising youth to participate in the democratization process of their country peacefully.
The campaign was strategic and a timely when young people needed to be organised, mobilized into already positive action groups, however the campaign should be a process especially if we are talking about the generation of the young people whose future and the future of their country depends on their capacity to actively participate positively
This was observed that throughout the long electoral process, young people developed cohesion, confidence, responsibility, orderliness, determination, they also developed a sense of belonging which co-existed within their inner feelings to create a secure, and peaceful electoral process.
- The insufficient resources that was sub granted by our partners made it difficult for activities to meet deeply its desired output
- During the campaign, the promotional materials used especially the youth manifesto citizens’ manifesto, women agenda were not localised to a language that all could understand, however this was played out through an on spot translation of localised languages especially in community.
- The campaign needed a larger outreach in the sense that political actors had to play a crucial role during their campaigns encouraging young people to stay away from violence ,however they are the ones initiating youth brigades which are a type of political violence used as instruments to advance their interests to achieve specific political ends targeting youth
- In community, the state of vulnerability amongst young people leads them to continuously lure them into brigades and violent crack units making it a challenging situation despite our campaign.
- Lack of active participation amongst the young people with an entitlement mentality and expectation that some one some where owes them a living.
- Inability of young people to continuously acquire the necessary consensus for unity, cohesion for collective ideological action.
- The emerging young people involved in militias and violent crack unit gangs can be refocused in a situation where young people are mobilised and organised into responsible citizens to make informed decisions.
Through action network, young people can be innovative leaders, change makers with the greatest potential to unleash their greatness for effective participation.
- The level of vulnerability amongst young people is high that they are actively pushed to participate in violent crack units. This is mainly caused by the un-employment situation among the youth population.
- Re-energize the promotion of strong partnership/networks of youth focused groups with a strong capacity to advocate and lobby authorities for sustainable policies, laws and programs
- Through group formation, initiate a culture of leader-manager built on responsible leadership and management along principles of democracy, governance and sustainable development
CRITICAL ANALYSIS ON ELECTION RELATED VIOLENCE
In a critical analysis, election never cause violence, but rather the root cause of conflict are deeply rooted in social-political, social-economic, social-cultural demands especially amongst the young people
Through out the political campaign period of the electoral process, there has been very few incidents that have been observed which could have lead to violence on a larger extent
The larger part of electoral violence that merged during the electoral process was observed during the mayoral election and local councillor’s district elections and these were clearly due to poor management of the election process by the Election Commission.
However in a context aspect, there have been process actions that could play a role in initiating violence amongst the population during the electoral process
- The lack of a political parties code of conduct in their operation
- Election viewed as events amongst the population instead of along term process creates a situation of poor designing, management and implementation of the process
- Continued neglect of altitudinal dimensions and culture differences in divided societies. eg the Sembabule National Resistance Movement (NRM) camps.
-Lack of organisational development assistance for the electoral body to create a working cooperation, participation and trust in the whole electoral process.
-The continued unresolved issues from the previous election and the failure to put past recommendation into action e.g. voter register, voter identification cards.
-The altitudes and behaviour of politicians in staging up militias and gangs that are a threat to other political actors and the lack of the political will to disband them
-The political culture of Moneterizing the campaigns in a situation where the incumbent has access to state resources leading to unequal playing field in the process.
-The state of bias of, and accessibility to state media, private media houses creates a tension situation for violence to emerge even when all these use state signals e.g. Besigye’s refusal to access a private radio even when he was cleared.
- An equal treatment of political candidates by security forces to access rally grounds and break opposition rallies e.g. Presidential candidate Abed Bwanika refusal to hold a rally in Masaka, refusal of Democratic President Norbert Mao to pass through a road next to the state road in Gulu district.
- Inadequate skill training of polling assistants on how they manage the electoral process without conflict and tension
-Inability to observe that the electoral process is a participatory approach that all parties have important roles to significantly play to effect the process peacefully.
-The absence of transparency in election results tabulation.
· Throughout the electoral process, the mind set of people especially young people should be refocused to stop viewing elections as events but rather long term process.
· There is great effort needed to re-organize, mobilize young people into focused
groups to participate and involve themselves in the demand process from their
political actors. This process should be achieved through continuous engagement
and their making a youth manifesto a continuous working document with need to be evaluated from time to time
· There is need to increase awareness of young people on positive living through information sharing, dialogues with action systems and stake holders. This process builds cohesions and strengthens relation amongst sub groups of youth leading to efficient and effective institutions.
· In a situation of changing altitudes, youth groups and action systems need to
re-organize young people to develop a spirit of volunteerism and community
service if we are to achieve positive sustainable development.
· In critical observation that violence acts amongst young people are due to ideology, conflict, social- economic, social political, social-cultural demands. There is need to enhance their capacity of youth groups, empower grass root councils to practically put their concerns and engagements to effectiveness. through active collaboration in needs of budgeting, planning, resource allocation to bring forth youth demands and aspirations.
· When we talk about the future of Uganda, there is need to re-focus of creating youth think tanks at grass root levels to co-exist creative container of community youth to bring about systematic thinking and team learning. This will create a spirit of inspiration, support and action where young people will observe the around contemplate, reflect, analyse and allow their inner feeling to emerge moving to a process of democratic citizenship
Every one every where can positively engage in co-creating community imbalance with a strong message as we use our voices to speak out- stand out from acts that undermine Democracy
We need to have benevolence that leads to standing unity to fight integrity violations.
Virtues like confidence, determinations faithfulness, justice, love orderliness, responsibility, truthfulness, patience and forgiveness need to co-exist through for peace, security and sustainable development for country, Uganda.
We are always much alive when we keep the world alive free from violence and with a possibility of not treating others in ways we ourselves would find hurting practically involving on co-creating commitment to a better envisioned world.