U.S Ambassador Christine Elder says the US will support a smooth transition in Liberia’s 2017 elections, and called on Liberians to be prepared for transparent elections.
“The peaceful transition in my country despite people’s feeling is an enduring tradition. This is something we all wish for Liberia and we are confident it will happen because this is part of the process of a mature democracy,” Ambassador Elder said.
She urged young people to respectfully and peacefully engage the political process, saying that that way, they can ensure that their voices are not just heard but heeded.
She made the statement yesterday at a program marking the official opening of the Young Political Leadership School (YPLS) in Monrovia. The school operates under the guidance of NAYMOTE, a partner for democratic development that promotes citizens’ understanding of democratic processes and the long-term benefits of their participation in these processes. Established in 2001 by student leaders and activists, the institution has been one of the leading grassroots organizations promoting democracy, peace building, human rights and civic engagement in Liberia.
However, Ambassador Elder said the fact that young people form the majority in Liberia is an indication that they will have a say in the political process, adding that their say must be respectful or peaceful.
Ambassador Elder told the over 100 students that the skills gained during the course will allow them to walk through life with pride.
“The tool of leadership you are sharpening and acquiring this week will be with you in every walk of life. Until you are in that category of the elderly, the tool you are going to learn about – building consensus and reaching a common goal – are the two marks of success,” Ambassador Elder said.
For his part, the United Nations DSRSG for Peace Consolidation in Liberia, Yacoub El Hillo, stressed the important role young people have to play in the upcoming elections, which entails ensuring that the 2017 elections end peaceably.
“The strength in your number is an opportunity, but it also has a responsibility to ensure that the election is peaceful and produces an outcome that all Liberians can remain proud of,” El Hillo said.
Yesterday’s opening session was also attended by Sweden’s Ambassador to Liberia, Lena Nordström.
The YPLS training focuses on the campaign process, public speaking, citizen engagement, transformational leadership development, grassroots campaign organizing, and campaign communications, including digital media campaigning.
The training serves as the third semester of the YPLS program. It brought together students from across the 15 counties, among them university students, representatives of youth-oriented organizations, young candidates, professionals and political fanatics that are passionate about improving democracy and electoral politics through effective youth leadership and participation.