The Center for African Democratic Affairs (CADA) has called on governments, election management bodies, political parties and civil society organizations in Africa to collectively address the issue of exclusion, identifying it as the root cause of political violence on the Continent.
A press statement signed by Mr Frank Adarkwah-Yiadom, Executive Director of CADA and copied to the Ghana News Agency at the weekend on the occasion of this year’s AU Day celebration, laid particular emphasis on elections, diversity and democracy, ethnic divisions in Africa and how they can be avoided.
“High rates of unemployment, lack of political participation, gender inequalities and deep imbalances in the distribution of local level resources, accentuated by political patronage, lie at the heart of the continent’s failed democracies”, the statement observed.
It noted that youth and women were among the most marginalized populations in sub-Saharan Africa, indicating that young people below the age of 35 account for 65 per cent of Africa’s total population, yet their unemployment rate, at 27 per cent, stood at twice the world average.
“In the absence of meaningful inclusive participation, these youths are prone to political manipulation and violence. Unemployment and exclusion from decision-making processes render them hopeless and desperate” it said, adding that the potential for the continent’s youth to contribute to sustainable economic development, democracy and peace still remained untapped.
The statement further observed that while there were more women in decision-making positions and in parliament now than ever before, women still struggled to make themselves heard as policy makers.
It urged African countries and the international community to continue to invest in elections to strengthen democracy, while at the same time they intensified efforts to promote developmental programmes that focused on people by allowing all sections of society to play active roles in shaping the future of the continent.
“Attention must be geared towards positive economic growth in Africa aimed at building institutions that are more responsive and representative of all ethnic groups and encourage more inclusive development. … Together, let us work to create an open and vibrant society that responds to the needs of African men, women and youths of all ages”, CADA stated.