A caucus of young party members in Kenya has vowed to support and influence their political parties to collaborate and peacefully resolve political conflicts arising from disputed elections outcome.
Their resolve follows a meeting between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga on March 9 during which they declared their intent to work together in uniting Kenyans by offering leadership that shows the path to dignity, prosperity and security.
“We intent on not witnessing the country suffer similar future cycles of the same tribulations it has since independence. We are determined to offer the leadership that prevents future generations inhering dangerous division and offers them a path to a brighter future for all,” declared the joint statement by President Kenyatta and Hon. Odinga that outlined 9 issues that underpin their political reconciliation initiative.
“Given the terrible grief and stress that many Kenyans, more so young people, have felt during the recent and past general elections, we as young political leaders will not be looking at the parts of the deal that protect the selfish interests of the political elite and their allies, but the ones that lead to genuine reform,” said a statement by 35 youth from 10 political parties in Nairobi on March 22nd.
The young leaders want pertinent issues that affect the youth to be addressed for the political reconciliation initiative to be sustained. “There are many issues but we wish to highlight the critical ones that we believe are crucial pillars to ensuring that the political reconciliation serves the common good and ushers in a new generation of doing politics,” states Ruth Mukuba, a member of the NARC Kenya Party.
The young party members preparing to read their statement to the media after their meeting at CMD-Kenya Boardroom
The issues that the young party members consider of paramount importance are youth unemployment, inclusivity and a rethink of the electoral system. Jason Demon, Orange Democratic Movement Nairobi branch youth leader explains that “due to their high levels of unemployment and a related sense of marginalization, young people are particularly vulnerable to being conscripted into engaging in violent confrontations with police and political rivals.”
The reality that the youth bulge will become a demographic bomb if a large cohort of young people cannot find employment and earn satisfactory income is an experience already evident in Kenya. The situation is further exacerbated by Kenya’s political environment that is characterized by highly personalized and ethnic based politics, lack of ideology and policy driven politics.
The youth have also pointed out the electoral system as one of the fault lines in Kenya’s deteriorating democratic practice. “We need to embrace an electoral system that unites us and not divide us. The First-Past-The-Post electoral system has entrenched a winner-take-it all culture. It has heightened the feeling of marginalization of certain ethnic and religious groups, lack of inclusivity, and competition over natural resources because political power has become a matter of life and death,” pronounced the statement.
The young leaders stated their commitment to collaborate, take a position on the leadership table to demand responsiveness and accountability on the issues that affect the Kenyan youth. The group is christened Interparty Youth Dialogue Forum and organized under the auspices of the Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD-Kenya).
CMD-Kenya is an inclusive forum of political parties in Kenya with a mandate to be a platform of dialogue and building of consensus on important national issues amongst political parties. In partnership with DIPD and DLDP, CMD-Kenya is implementing an integrated project focusing on constructive youth involvement in politics and promoting political dialogue.