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Sierra Leone News:“Shed no blood for a Politician”- CCYA

John Sisay addressing thousands of“Youth stand up for non-violence in the next elections”
This was the theme for a one day education session on youth violence prevention and leadership transformation organized for 50 young people, in 11 districts around the country.
In partnership with Action Aid (SL) the objective of the implementing organization, Centre for the Coordination of Youth Activities (CCYA) was to increase the knowledge and change the mind set of young people that their voice and choice matters in order to make the upcoming elections very peaceful and violence free.
Civil Society and Social Development Activist, Charles Lahai called on the participants to discuss issues that are familiar with youth transformation. He spoke about youth violence saying “Now is the time to mobilize yourselves in your various localities and discuss your future, and when the time comes, you will effect change through the ballot box in a peaceful manner, without being influenced by no one.”
Speaking on youth violence prevention, leadership and transformation, CCYA’s Executive Director, Ngolo Katta stated that after series of training in youth participation in democratic governance, civic rights as well as skills in micro development activities, the time is now to also equip young people to understand that they should not be used as a machinery to perpetrate violence, as a result of lofty promises made by some politicians.
“Shed no blood for a politician in the next coming general elections, and refuse to campaign with drugs and cheap alcohol. Know the issues, discuss them and you will be able to think and vote wisely.”He added that young people should not only say no to violence during the next elections, but also after the elections and at all times, in order to maintain the peace and security.
Executive Director, Action Aid International, Sierra Leone, Mohamed Sillah explained that several programmes have been implemented over the years to improve the lives of young people, but in recent times there has been a sudden upsurge of violence among young people both in urban and rural settings. This is unacceptable, he said adding “We don’t want all the investment and gains made to develop young people waste, and as elections is just around the corner, something has to be done to change the mind set of young people towards violence, which is not the solution to some of their problems”.
ActionAid (SL) will always partner with organizations that are result oriented to improve the welfare and perception of the country’s population.
Sillah called on the participants to be more participatory to ensure that the outcomes of the education session are understood properly and implemented, as they are ambassadors of their peers.
The Commissioner for Youths in Sierra Leone, Anthony Koroma encouraged the 50 participants to, “Think Sierra Leone, because the country is bigger than all of us”. He said 75% of the country’s population is below 35 years, and these categories of people are easy targets to unleash violence.
Koroma added that because of their youthful nature, some young people because of unemployment as well as other social devices do not think twice before falling prey to some unsuspecting politicians. “I am always pleased to find myself in sessions like this to continue to form the connection to address the issues of youth leadership, transformation and violence prevention”. Education is for people to make the right and informed choices for a better society.
Both representatives from the Political Parties Registration Commission and the National Electoral Commission made detailed power point presentations on how the two commissions work, their roles and responsibilities including the do’s and don’ts of citizens belonging to political parties as well as those of voting age. The two young and astute representatives gave stern warning that the public adhere to all rules and regulations involving the elections, in order for them, not to be caught up with the law.
Dr Isata Mahoi of the West African Network Peace Building (WANEP) gave a lecture on how young people should build on and maintain the peace, noting that a spark of violence can reach regional levels, and it is for this reason WANEP is all over the country and at border level to spread the message of fostering peace and unity, especially during elections.
All the participants, including media practitioners assured that they will go to their various communities well equipped, to pass on knowledge gained to their peers on youth leadership, transformation and violence prevention.
By Ade Campbell
Monday October 23, 2017.

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