Somali youth seek greater participation in country’s political transformation
Somali youths discussed options for more active participation in the political transformation of their country during a two-day conference hosted by the United Nations in Somalia in partnership with youth-led organizations.
About 50 youths attended the meeting, which focused on a more effective role for young Somalis in the 2016 electoral process, the implementation of the forthcoming National Development Plan, and the achievement of the Agenda 2030 sustainable development goals in Somalia.
“For young people, jobs, education, health care, economic opportunity and a brighter future are what they are after. And they worry, on the basis of conversations I’ve had with them today, that older people are only interested in power and not really interested in the future, either of the country or of their own future”, said Michael Keating, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia.
He urged the youth, who comprise an estimated 80 percent of Somalia’s population, to get fully involved in the ongoing political process, which he added would lead to one-person, one-vote elections in 2020.
The Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia Peter de Clerq said he foresees a vital role for young Somalis in the three-year National Development Plan that will take effect at the start of next year.
“I see the youth fitting in every aspect of the national development plan. We should avoid seeing the youth as a separate entity or a separate part of the national development plan. They should be everywhere”, de Clercq stressed.
Muna Hassan Mohamed, a youth leader who is running for a seat in the Lower House of the federal parliament, said young Somalis are in need of mentoring that can mould them into future leaders.
“The youth must get visionary leadership, and the government should create policies that will help get the country out of the chaos”, Muna noted.
One highlight of the two-day event was the painting of murals emblazoned with participants’ vision for the future of Somalia.The UN has been at the forefront of advocating for inclusivity and greater participation of youth and women in the 2016 electoral process.