Youth in West Nile have demonstrated over the manner in which Youth Members of Parliament are elected. The angry youth held placards and marched on the streets chanting ‘youth voices matter’, electoral colleges must go’. They argued that Electoral College system of voting discriminate against a large percentage of the youth. Most of them are hindered from choosing candidates of their choice.

“We are all above 18 years; we have a right to choose our leaders,” Rwothomio Saviour , Secretary for Finance, Nebbi District Youth Council said.

“Electoral Colleges must go, our voices must be heard,” Dima Godfrey Oboi District youth Chairperson Adjumani.

“All youth must vote, electoral colleges must go,” the youth chanted.

“The voting system is tedious and expensive as it requires transportation of voters/delegates from one place to another and also discriminates the potentially good youth leaders with good ideology and manifesto from taking up leadership”, said Bakole Geoffrey, District Youth Chairperson Arua.

Electoral College system of voting is where a few people / youth or voters who are delegates vote on behalf of the majority voters/youth.

In Youth MP’s elections and youth council elections, nine people are voted at the villages who vote for the nine committee members at the parish level; who thereafter vote nine committee members at the sub county that conclusively vote for nine district youth council committee members; who in addition to the 3 sub county committee members (sub county youth chairperson, secretary for finance and secretary for female affairs) form the 336 youth of the National Youth Delegates Conference that votes for the youth MPs and Nine National Youth Council Committee members.

“The youth MP’s have not come out to front the Youth Agenda as the Youth do not feel their relevance and impact. They cover over 30 to 40 districts each which is a challenge and makes them ineffective,” Lydiah Namayengo, Project Manager, Voice CCEDU.

Youth make up 78% of Uganda’s population and yet they are represented by only 5 youth MP’s representing Western, central, Eastern, Northern and Buganda region according to the 1993 National Youth Act.

However the youth are objected to this system which violates their rights as mandated by Chapter 1 article 1 clause (4) and Chapter 5 article 59 (1) in the constitution of Uganda.

The group which feels marginalized, now want the Regional youth MP’s and other Interest Group MP’s(worker’s, Persons with Disabilities, army and women) abolished and instead introduce proportional representation where there is a district youth MP, Woman MP and PWD from within the existing constituencies of every district.

“One regional youth MP cannot address issues of youth in a whole region as it entails very many districts. For instance I have never seen my youth MP ever since campaigns. I do not know how he looks like or how tall he is”, said Amoro Janet, secretary female affairs Arua district Youth council.

“The Youth MP’s are not aware about what affects the youth on the ground. They should be scrapped off because they are not representing us in parliament. They have introduced the social media tax and it is what unites , employs some of us but no youth MP is coming out to demand for the tax to be abolished”, Rwothomio Saviour , Secretary for Finance , Nebbi District Youth Council.

The youth urge government to empower youth councils by providing salaries and allowances to them so as to effectively address the issues that affect the youth.

“Youth must demand for inclusion and full participation in elections , policy making , planning , budgeting and decision making because it is their right granted by the Constitution of Uganda”, Lydiah Namayengo , Project Manager Voice, CCEDU.

Onduma Sulaiman, the speaker LC5 Arua District said “the youth need our support. If you the youth don’t speak up for yourselves, who will speak for you? Don’t fear, raise your voices and government will respond”.

The youth from Adjumani, Moyo , Yumbe , Nebbi , Arua , Koboko , Maracha and Zombo districts were converging at Arua Christus Centre for the ‘My Voice’ regional platform under My Voice campaign that is aimed at amplifying Youth Voices to ensure more Youth Participation in Elections and Democracy in Uganda , a program run by CCEDU in partnership with OXFAM.