Kandahar youth have key role to play in country’s future, say radio panellists
KANDAHAR - The active participation of young Afghans in democratic processes is essential for creating a more stable, inclusive and peaceful country, said panellists during a UN-backed radio programme focused on elections in the southern province of Kandahar.
The radio programme, which was broadcast by Zma Radio to an audience estimated at 400,000 listeners in and around Kandahar’s capital, outlined practical ways to empower young Afghans in the country’s political and social life, including by registering to vote in the upcoming elections.
Panellists, including youth activists and civil society representatives, expressed concern that many young Afghans have not been fully involved in democratic processes, and stressed that the upcoming parliamentary and district council elections present an opportunity to select representatives that will represent the interests of Afghanistan’s youth.
“We need more youth in Kandahar to exercise their political rights and obligations,” said Hafiz Popal, head of the Youth Secretariat in Kandahar and a panellist on the radio show. Popal noted that young people make up a large portion of Afghanistan’s population and said that their participation in elections is essential for the country’s future.
Other speakers agreed, and urged young people to play a leading role as voters. According to some estimates, three-quarters of the population in Afghanistan is below the age of 30. The panellists noted that young Afghans in Kandahar face significant challenges, including grappling with high levels of illiteracy and unemployment, but stressed that any elections process in the country must be inclusive and must therefore involve young people.
In a recent two-day trip to the province, UN envoy Tadamichi Yamamoto met with Kandahar’s Independent Election Commission and visited a voter registration centre, where he talked with electoral officials and those who had gathered to register.
“I am impressed that, in this burning sun, people are waiting in long queues to register because they understand that their vote will decide their future," said Yamamoto, who is the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and also head of UNAMA.
According to international human rights law, everyone has the right to take part in public affairs, to vote and to be elected to government without discrimination and without unreasonable restrictions. All citizens – whether voters, candidates or election-related staff – have the right to be free from fear and intimidation at all stages of an elections process, from voter registration through to the post-election period.
“Those who are registering to vote have my utmost respect; they are exercising their constitutional right and putting hope for Afghanistan’s future above concerns about their personal safety,” said Yamamoto in a recent statement. “The United Nations, along with the broader international community, remains committed to supporting an Afghan-led elections process.”
Supported by UNAMA’s Kandahar regional office, the radio programme is part of a country-wide outreach initiative aimed at creating platforms for local communities to engage in dialogue on critical issues, including the upcoming elections.
UNAMA supports the Afghan people and government to achieve peace and stability. In accordance with its mandate as a political mission, UNAMA backs conflict prevention and resolution, promoting inclusion and social cohesion, as well as strengthening regional cooperation. The Mission supports effective governance, promoting national ownership and accountable institutions that are built on respect for human rights.
UNAMA provides 'good offices' and other key services, including diplomatic steps that draw on the organization’s independence, impartiality and integrity to prevent disputes from arising, escalating or spreading. The Mission coordinates international support for Afghan development and humanitarian priorities.