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Fostering issue based political dialogue in Kenya

Kenya will have its general elections in August 2017, where the people of Kenya from the country and in the diaspora will vote to decide the next political leaders for 5 years. This is presented as a once in a lifetime opportunity for a project that will foster issue based political dialogue in the country towards the elections, and build the capacity of political parties and civil society organizations to collaborate to improve the policies created and implemented to be more inclusive of the people.

African Students for Liberty Kenya was invited by Liberal Alliance Denmark to represent the interest of the young Kenyans in the project that aims to generally improve the political environment in Kenya to be one based on issues, and not its usual tribal based politics.

Kenya has a devolved system of governance where the country is divided into 47 counties. However, the project did not have the capacity to host forums in all the 47 counties and therefore chose 7 select counties for the project. These counties list as the busiest in the country and are as follows:

  • Nairobi
  • Mombasa
  • Kisumu
  • Eldoret
  • Nakuru
  • Machakos
  • Kiambu

The project was divided into two phases in which the first phase was reserved for laying the structure for the project by selecting civil society organizations and political parties to work with and further to invite them for capacity building sessions to introduce the project and its objective for their consideration and support. To get a sense of non state actors, the project selected civil society organizations to work with which advocate for:

  • Professionals
  • Women
  • Youth
  • Business

ASFL Kenya invited CSOs to the capacity building forums in the seven counties. ASFL Kenya also made presentations about the organization, which is an International Non-Profit Organization with presence in all inhabited continents, that educates, develops and empowers the next generation of leaders of liberty and its model of operation which is to identify future leaders, train them online on the ideas of liberty and on graduation who then set up students groups for liberty on campus, host libertarian events and mentor other future leaders with support from the organization. ASFL Kenya also presented an overview of the project including the project objectives.

The second phase was reserved for capacity building sessions of the youth in Kenya from the select counties by hosting campus forums targeting young people to discuss about issue based political dialogue, good governance, rule of law and an open discussion forum for participants about underlying issues in Kenya affecting young people. ASFL Kenya selected universities within the seven counties to host the “Campus Caravan on Issue Based Dialogue” forums.

Students around the country were very eager to receive us, and were grateful for the opportunities to discuss their opinion on the current situation in Kenya and more specifically in their counties and further to discuss youth involvement in leadership in leadership and politics in Kenya. The youth from all the counties agreed that there was dire need for creation of better policies by political leaders and also inclusion of young people in politics and governance.

ASFL Kenya was able to reach out to over 700 young people from the seven counties who agreed to take the challenge of empowering their friends and members of their society and educate them about their rights, the issues at hand and the importance of improving the political environment in Kenya.

In 2007/2008 Kenya experienced the most violent post election violence ever witnessed in the country where in select areas people fought due to the results of the said elections, violence being between supporters of the then government and the opposition party. Thousands of Kenyans were displaced from their homes, hundreds killed, many women raped, houses torched and many more injured and scarred for life. The youth in Kenya have vouched to denounce such violence, which was perpetrated by young people, and also have denounced the act of being used by politicians for their own selfish interest of promoting violence.

Out of the participants of the various forums, the project has selected 30 youth ambassadors from the seven counties who shall be trained on a two day training session set to be hosted in Nairobi, Kenya where they shall learn from the partners of the project and a delegation of the Liberal Alliance Youth on various issues that will in turn build their capacity in creating a youth agenda which they shall then advocate for during the political debates to be hosted by Kenya Association of Manufacturers on behalf of the project in the select counties. The aspirants for the position of governor in the select counties shall debate on various issues, and be questioned by the select civil society organizations and youth ambassadors on various issues which will in turn assist the people of Kenya to decide who shall be their representative based on the policies they shall promise to implement if elected into office. African Students for Liberty is grateful for this once in a lifetime opportunity to make an impact that will go a long way in improving the political environment in Kenya, to connect with the political leaders in Kenya and to gain momentum in sharing the ideas of liberty.

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