INTERVIEW: Daniel Ozoukou on “Youth & Politics”

Daniel Ozoukou
Abidjan, Ivory Coast
This week we had the opportunity to speak with Mr Daniel Ozoukou on his personal insight into the state of Young people and Politics in his country. Mr Ozoukou is a Political Analyst from the Ivory Coast, with a post-graduate degree in Political Science and a history of articles on governance, democracy and peace. He also serves as a Youth Activist under the banner of Ignite The Youth. Here is what he has to say…

Q As a Political Analyst, what can you tell us about the current political situation in Ivory Coast?
A First of all I would like to thank you for the invitation, I am very pleased to discuss the month topic "Youth and Politics".  Let me underline that I am very impressed by the work done by the Youth led organization Ignite The Youth. Mr Alassane Ouattara winner of the presidential election in Ivory Coast, has recently taken oath. During the electoral process the incumbent president neglected not only the security question, but also the political demand for inclusive dialogue with political players. Today more than 400 political leaders, the majority belonging to FPI, remain in jail without trial.  Recently I wrote an article entitled “From Open Electoral Democratization to Privatized Elections’’, the article shed light on the Ivoirian electoral democracy from 1990 up today. I realize that elections in Ivory Coast are less open than expected, they seem privatized by those in charge, mainly the Executive power. The Ivorian presidential election in Ivory Coast has done more to reveal the way an Executive power could manage to ensure his electoral triumph.

Q What can you say about young people’s involvement in politics in your country - Are young people well represented in the political field?
A Young people are involved in politics, side by side with the current political leaders. The most influential young leaders are Mr Charles Ble Goude and Guillaume Soro. These two leaders illustrate the tragic scenario of youth involvement in politics. Mr Charles Ble Goude is under trial for his supposed involvement in the post electoral crisis. Mr Guillaume Soro is currently the head of the Ivorian parliament (Note that his political ascension mirrors success but actually it is a fake success build upon violence and blood shedding). In that regard, Youth involvement in politics is certainly true but it portrays political violence. In terms of representation young people are well represented in political parties but not always well represented in strategic positions. I would like you to understand that in Ivory Coast, there is a range of young people who seem totally deceived by politics in the country and how it is performed by politicians. 

Q Did young people seem interested in exercising their democratic right to vote in the recent elections?
A Ivorian politics has raised great concern among young people as elections very often result in violence for decades. Young people are wondering about the necessity to exercise that citizenship right when violence becomes a rule to seize power. But actually they are very interested in exercising their democratic right to vote. It is good to know that the Ivorian young people took great part in the struggle for the democratization of the country in the 1990s. The desire for democratic change in Ivory Coast remains a core issue of the youth. That situation raises the question of the role of youth could play in politics.  

Q What role should young people play in Politics?
A "The first important thing that young people should understand, is the capacity their have to catalyze change in their countries. The political change that occurred in the North African countries in 2012 in Tunisia, Egypt and recently in Burkina Faso shows how powerful young people are. Young people should stand for democracy and peaceful social change through demonstrations.
In addition young people could play a leading role in political competition, instead of backing up politicians they could engage themselves in electoral positions, I mean MPs and mayor positions. Julius Malema MP in South Africa is a good example of young people involvement in politics and the role they could play. One of the important roles that young generations could play is to act as the watchdogs of the state intuitions by checking and balancing the states powers. The Youth as the watchdog of the political life in a state could make a difference!"

Q What does the future hold for politics in Ivory Coast?
A "Truly speaking, the future of the country is problematic because the recent election has divided the Ivorian population rather than unite them. It is good to understand that 5 years after the 2010 post electoral crisis, Mr Ouattara is still exercising granted persecution and oppression on the pro Gbagbo militants. The economic growth that the government talks about could not sufficiently cement social ties. The fragile and divided states particularly Ivory Coast should not only deliver early economic results but also foster social ties through inclusive political dialogue.
The marginalization and deprivation of one segment of the Ivorian population is the seed a potential conflict. The future of Ivory Coast politically speaking is darkened by all these issues. The politics of exclusion and the patrimonial governance that is prospering in the country leads me to say that the current stability of the country is elusive." 

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of IGNITE THE YOUTH are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the entire society of IGNITE THE YOUTH.