Mr Mustaq Moorad, Regional Director of Africa Programmes for International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) on Monday observed that demographic structure in West Africa was skewed to favour young people.
“But the reality on the ground showed that the youth are marginal actors in the leadership of political parties,” Mr Moorad stated at the West Africa Youth and Democracy Conference and Camp organized in Accra.
He said it was unfortunate that the youth were rather seen at the forefront of political conflict; deployed as political thugs to engage in violence even though the parties had committed themselves on paper to promote non-violence.
Mr Moorad suggested that young people needed to be helped to develop their skills necessary for effective participation in society.
On women participation in politics, he said it had not been matched by any increased influence in political parties or by policy agendas that reflected on gender related matters.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in an interview, Mr Moorad explained that political parties needed to deliberately develop systems and demonstrate political commitments to encourage and enroll women into political offices.
He said it was political parties that won elections to form governments, which must encompass all human resources in the country.
He said: “it would be extremely difficult for the parties to appoint women in government and also to serve in key institutions if the parties did not show commitment for greater participation of women in politics”.
Mr Theophilus Dowetin, a member of the International IDEA for West Africa, told the GNA the forum was to encourage dialogue within participants, drawn from various political parties in the West African countries and to share ideas as well as address challenges on the political landscape.
He said the forum provided the platform to inspire political tolerance and dialogue for national development for the youth of political parties.
It was under the theme: “Youth Political Participation, Representation and Dialogue-Challenges and Prospects.”
International IDEA is an inter-governmental organization made up of 27 member states spread across the globe with six in Africa.
It is to share comparative knowledge and experience in support of democracy.