MONROVIA – YOCEL is holding series of regional summits drawing participants from across the nation, to address the topics of youth political participation and the promotion of nonviolent elections in Liberia. The summit is being sponsored by UNDP, with funding from the Embassies of Sweden, Ireland, the European Union, and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
By: T Mark Korpu, Contributing Writer
As the forthcoming October 10, 2023, elections in Liberia draw near, YOCEL and its collaborating partners are organizing a comprehensive nationwide mobilization initiative known as the “Together Summit.” The primary objective of this effort is to advocate for elections that are devoid of violence and characterized by an atmosphere of increased youth peaceful participation. It aims to mobilize young individuals from all regions, enhance their understanding of the Farmington Declaration, and unite diverse groups to foster a harmonious electoral process. These events are convening voters from across the counties, encompassing youth groups, women’s groups, religious organizations, political parties, independent candidates, and civil society groupings. The primary objective is to engage in deliberations and strategize for the purpose of upholding the Farmington Declaration. It is noteworthy that this declaration was previously endorsed by political parties’ leaders in Liberia during the current year.
The third regional 2023 youth Summit was held in Ganta City, Nimba County on Sept 1 The event brought together more than 150 youths from Lofa, Bong, and Nimba Counties, representing various, organizations including political party youth, religious youth organizations, youths with disabilities, and disadvantaged youths commonly referred to as “zogos.” The purpose of the 2023 Together Summit is to mobilize young people across Liberia’s 15 counties and 73 electoral districts to advocate for peaceful elections and commit to supporting their political leaders uphold the Farmington Declaration, a commitment signed by all political parties to maintain peace in Liberia.
August 29, 2023, similar gatherings were held in Buchanan and Zwedru, where young people from nine counties(Grand Gedeh, Grand Bassa, Rivergee, Rivercess, Maryland, Margibi, Montserrado, Sinoe and Grand Kru) reaffirmed their commitment to peaceful elections. The Together Summit has received support from key stakeholders, including the National Elections Commission, the European Union, UNDP, the Embassy of Sweden in Monrovia, Irish Aid, Liberia’s Peacebuilding Office, and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
The culmination of these efforts will take place in Monrovia, where a national summit will address youth participation in the crucial 2023 presidential and legislative elections scheduled for October 10, 2023.
At the inauguration ceremony, Mr. Beyan Flomo Pewee, Chief Executive Officer of YOCEL, underscored the profound significance of the 2023 Together Summit. He emphasized that this initiative serves as a cornerstone in ensuring a peaceful and harmonious election process on October 10, 2023. Mr. Pewee highlighted that the summit represents a comprehensive strategy aimed at uniting Liberia’s youth and rallying their commitment to the principles of peace and transparency throughout the electoral process.
Mr. Pewee stated, “The 2023 Together Summit transcends mere gatherings of young individuals; it encompasses the symbolic act of signing a petition, a collective gesture that unmistakably conveys the unwavering dedication of Liberia’s youth to safeguarding the nation’s peace.”
He further explained that these upcoming events have the potential to gather over 1,000 petition signatures from diverse youth segments across Liberia, signifying their resolute commitment to peace and their pledge to demand their leaders to adhere to the Farmington Declaration of Liberia.
For his part, Mr. Roosevelt Zayzay Sr., the program officer of the UNDP Elections project, provided reassurance to the attendees at the Buchanan summit, regarding UNDP’s dedication to assisting the National Elections Commission and other electoral stakeholders in Liberia. This support is aimed at enhancing the democratic process and fostering peace within the nation. Mr. Zayzay, Sr. emphasized that Liberia is currently facing a crucial moment in which the outcomes of the elections would significantly impact the country’s ability to sustain peace or maybe regress to its troubled history. He urged the younger generation to resist manipulation by politicians and refrain from participating in acts of electoral violence. He expressed gratitude towards the donors for their consistent and steadfast support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and, more specifically, the election project. Additionally, the program officer expressed gratitude towards YOCEL for their role in coordinating the summit.