Youth convention should provide acid test to electoral bodies

Youth convention should provide acid test to electoral bodies

A rare show of political fireworks surfaced during the third South Sudan Youth Union Convention which was held at Juba’s Freedom Hall on Friday.

After weeks of preparation, the delegates finally got a chance to elect their leaders. However, the voting exercise aside, this event opened some crucial realities that we must consider when preparing for the election that will define the fate and history of South Sudan. The convention ought to have been opened on Wednesday till an unidentified group tried to cause fracas, prompting the intervention of the security personnel to put the venue under a lock and key till Friday.

Yesterday, two cabinet ministers differed over the drama that nearly threatened the viability of the exercise. The Minister of Environment and Forestry Josephine Napwon took to the podium to condemn the incident as she called for tolerance to allow the youth union delegates to make independent choices in the ballot.

She said: “If we don’t give them that freedom, then we are heading to nowhere in this country. We need to practice democracy by giving them space to do what is good for them.  As long as it doesn’t threaten the security of the country.”

But her utterances triggered a contrary opinion from her counterpart from the Presidential Affairs, Joseph Bakosoro, who called out some unnamed leaders for their hypocrisy; trying to criticise political interference in the youth affairs while they are doing it behind the scenes.  

“You are here. You know yourself.  When you are saying don’t politicize the youth union.  You said yes, it is true.  But you are one of the men, the ladies who are politicising the youth union. Some of you have done it. That is politicizing. The youth should not take sides,” Bakosoro said.

These two leaders revealed just a snippet of some of the situations we may encounter in the general election. No one knows whether the deployment of security forces was in one way or another interfering with the exercise. But we can only hope that it was in good faith. In addition, the electoral bodies must use this convention as some acid test to gain a preview of what may transpire in the national election. These bodies must be worried about such security breaches whose solutions may make the result of the exercise questionable. The security officers have been faulted for being part of electoral malpractices even in the neighbouring countries. It is the hope of this beautiful nation that such cases will not happen.