The Burundian Association of Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ABUCESA) in partnership with the US Embassy in Burundi and Africa Center for Strategic Studies (CESA), has organized a two- day symposium towards targeted groups especially security forces, media and youth about their role for good 2015 elections at King’s Conference Hall from this 10 to 11 September – By Yves Didier Irakoze
According to Major General Sylvestre Nimubona, this symposium has the main objective of gathering everybody from all institutions in order to sensitize them about the attitude they should adopt for successful elections of 2015.
“The security institutions, youth and media have a big role to play during the elections that’s the reason why we invite them for sensitization about how they have to behave during this period. It has also been a good opportunity to have their ideas, thoughts, wishes as well as understanding for the smooth running of the 2015 elections,” points out Major General Nimubona.
He goes on saying that the youth represent 65% of the Burundian population and constitute the future of the nation. We have invited them to give them advice focused on avoiding and eradicating any kind of violence dictated by either politicians or other people manipulating them while looking for their own interest. He highlights that it is also a good occasion to teach participants that elections are not a struggle but a democratic competition where there are a winner and a loser.
He also underlines that media play a very useful role during elections and calls upon journalists to be careful in the election period as politicians or any other cheaters would like to manipulate them.
The US Ambassador to Burundi Mrs. Dawn Liberi also appreciates this initiative in congratulating Burundi Government for have been reducing political violence since the elections of 2010 and hopes that they will be reduced considerably at the dawn of 2015 elections.
“During the future electoral cycle, Burundians will get the opportunity to show extraordinary steps that they have reached to consolidate peace and strengthen democratic governance,” points out Ambassador Dawn Liberi.
She adds that the participation of those actors in this symposium shows the importance they give to following elections that have to be free and fair for Burundians and the International community.
She finally congratulates ABUCESA for their effort to promote civil and military relations in Burundi and states that the Embassy is longing for good collaboration and cooperation. In conclusion, she thanks the ABUCESA for gathering them and offering an opportunity to tackle those relevant topics in the right time.
All actors have to be involved in the process of 2015 elections
According to Prosper Nimbona, a General Commissioner in Charge of Education and Training in African Youth Progressive Association (AJAP), the socio-political atmosphere of 2010 elections gives us a lesson to prepare the coming elections more carefully for preventing any kind of incidents. He says that all the actors must be fully involved with devotion especially the security forces, media, and youth who are specifically required to remain calm and peaceful instead of seeking solutions through violence.
He adds that all Burundians are called to stop and ban any kind of violence and particularly the participants, not to be manipulated and exploited by political leaders.
“Frustrations or threats during or after electoral cycle can lead to political violence and the situation is caused by leaders of political parties who never accept their responsibility. Then, we are all demanded to have a sense of criticism and self-control and avoid cheating during elections,” states Nimbona.
Simon Kururu, a Consultant and Trainer in Journalism and Communication mentions that media play a big role during elections: they inform, sensitize, educate and push the public to participate in the electoral process very actively.
According to Article 10 of the Press Law, a journalist has the right to accede to information, make inquiries and comment freely on facts related to public life. However, he or she has to respect the law, rights and other people’s freedom.
“Political leaders often tend to have maximum time on some public and private radios and TVs. It is worth reminding that media can be both a peace arm and a war arm. A good reference is Rwanda, Ivory Coast, Kenya, etc. Then, this should be avoided; media should be as objective and impartial as possible,” points out Kururu.
He concludes in advising journalists to respect professional code and ethics for having more credibility in the society; within this respect, they will be highly respected and have larger audience in their programs.
A participant’s view
According to Justine Nkurunziza, the Chairwoman of COSOME, Civil Society Coalition for Electoral Monitoring, the workshop has been of a paramount importance due to the different themes tackled. However, she states that one day hasn’t been sufficient to analyze and study sensitive topics very carefully such as security resolutions and elections without including youth much more; as political leaders were present, it was an appropriate opportunity to deal with all the burning issues prevailing in our society today.
Finally, she points out that it would be better to invite youth associations in those kinds of workshops and set up committees to follow up recommendations.