Election of Children leaders

Thirty six children were elected at the national level to represent others in advocating children’s rights.

Children who participated in the Elections in Gatumba locality expect much from their fellow leaders

Children who participated in the Elections in Gatumba locality expect much from their fellow leaders

Out of 15 candidates, two won the election. Hakizimana Cynthia, 15, an albino from Kanyosha Commune and Ndayisaba Isaac, 16, from Mubimbi commune, both from Bujumbura province will represent other children under 18 years in their locality at the national level. The election took place in Gatumba neighborhood of Mutimbuzi Commune. The vote which was supposed to begin at 9:30 am started with a delay of two hours. “Some children from Mugongo-Manga commune came late”, explained one of the election’s organizers.

Seven children from each of the nine communes that compose the province of Bujumbura (Mukike, Mugongo-Manga, Mutimbuzi, Mubimbi, Isare, Kabezi, Mutambu, Nyabiraba and Kanyosha) were present at the “Cercle Cinquantenaire” to vote their leaders. The election that was supposed to be held some time ago has been reorganized as it was rigged.

68 votes were discovered in the ballot box whereas there were only 63 voters. After the vote, Manirakiza Emelyne had won with 17 votes but was replaced by Hakizimana Cynthia, an albino who got 13 votes with reference to the terms of National Children’s Forum. The winners pledged to fight for children’s rights. “I will plead for children’s rights.

I know some challenges they are faced with as I live with a stepmother. The sexual abuse and the deterioration of children’s rights are a reality in our locality. I will sensitize both children and parents and I believe that the decision-makers will consider our concerns and punish those who violate children’s rights”, said Cynthia.

For Isaac Ndayisaba, the new elected children leaders will work hand in hand with other children as well the administrative officials to promote their rights. “Children’s rights are not sometimes respected in our areas. Some of the children are not officially registered and others gave up studies due to the trade and wedding at an early age”, deplored Isaac. Then, it will be an opportunity to conduct a sensitization campaign with children and their parents to put end to that phenomenon.

Combined efforts to promote children’s rights

Hatangayo Adelaide, the socio-economic advisor to the Governor of Bujumbura Province supports the view of Isaac Ndayisaba. “It is not good to take a decision without informing the concerned people. Then, it is an opportunity to hear the challenges they face most from their own voices so that we can find solutions together,” she said.

For Jacques Nshimirimana, the chairman of the Federation defending Children’s Rights-FENADED at the same time in charge of the electoral committee of the National Children Forum, the election was well held in the whole country except in some communes of Kirundo and Muyinga Provinces where the election delayed due to time management. “Within this National Forum II, there is a hope that children’s rights will be promoted as they advocate for themselves”, he noted. He went on to say that the first group of FONEB was shy even if the opportunities were few due to the lack of financial support.

According to him, the election aimed at promoting children’s rights. “It officially started with pupils who were chosen to represent others. It is a good thing that children should choose their leaders. The forum included literate and illiterate children aged between 10 and 16 years but the voters were aged up to 17 years”, he said. The forum term is limited to two year. He explained that this age variation was considered to avoid manipulation.

Compared to the first National Forum, Nshimirimana hopes that the elected children will be good models and reliable in their community: “They will be good leaders of the future as we avoided any ethnicity-based ideas to find solutions to the challenges”.

Created on 5 June 2012 by the presidential decree n° 100/ 67, the Children’s National Forum aims at finding solution to some challenges met by children. However, the lack of financial support was the major issue that constrained the activities of this forum.