Dialogue Among Peace Messengers: Political Peace –Part 2
By: Gwendolyn S. Myers/Founder &Executive Director, Messengers of Peace-Liberia Inc (MOP)
It is impressive to see many youth based non-governmental organizations and community based organizations involved in the voter registration (VR) exercise. Last week, not to be left out, Messengers of Peace’s young volunteer peace messengers were in the New Kru Town Community as part of their civic awareness raising responsibilities to encourage Liberians to register for the upcoming presidential and parliamentarian elections slated for October 2017.
MOP-Liberia takes note of the involvement of young people during the last VR exercise. The presence of many young people during the form-filing process at the registration outposts dotted across the country meant young people had an active role to play in ensuring political peace.
Young people should use the lessons learnt from the VR exercise to identify actions and challenges facing youths in terms of having their voices heard during preparations for elections. It is mentioned that young people don’t register and even when they do, they don’t vote. We need to debunk this myth and take our rightful place in electoral processes so as to be recognized as equal partners and change agents.
Looking forward, young people should be provided space for equal partnership as the country progresses towards the election. Youth led engagements in educating the general populace on the election process and its outcome is important for a peaceful election. Young people can no longer be used to foment violence during elections.
We firmly believe that peace messages must be part of ourselves if we need to promote political peace and conduct free and fair elections. We need more young people to gather themselves, and set peace messages alight when they speak.
As young people, and as we prepare for elections, we also need to make our votes count because what counts is what is counted. Youth engagement and participation in peace and electoral processes is essential to political peace.
The biggest and the truly imminent danger to political peace is an opaque political process that does not include young people. When young people are selectively engaged, it creates an environment of distrust and anger. For political peace, we need to set the tone for the participation of young people in Liberian politics. The UNSCR # 2250 provides us with the platform for this engagement.
Political peace should be inclusive, our development partners and government must train young people to treat electoral process as a pathway to sustainable peace and security. Every young person or youth group is as important as the other.
We have talented a pool of resources which must be tapped to ensure a smooth, fair and seamless political outcome. What is expected of young people is high and we must live up to these expectations. The next phase would be to encourage young people to choose rightly and not be blinded by money, good or fluffy language during the election campaign. We should vote according to the dictates of our conscience.
And until next week we come to you with another article on Political Peace Part 3, it is peace above all else, peace first, may peace prevail in our time.