Embargoed: 10.30am 04/06/2014 Fiji Time
Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF) officially launched a report titled “Young People and Democratic Participation in Fiji” at Suva’s Tanoa Plaza on Wednesday.
Dr Patrick Vakaoti, a lecturer at the University of Otago, led the research aimed at exploring an appropriate definition of “young people” in Fiji and offering an insight into young people’s understanding and level of interest in democratic activities.
The research provides of snapshot of the perceptions of Fiji’s young people about elections, participating in-group activities and voting behavior. This research also explores how young people want to be defined, their interest in participating in political and democratic activities and their concerns in taking part in these spaces.
This research report is timely, as it shares concerns and aspirations of young people in Fiji. It is contextual to the buildup to general elections on September 17 – with more than 40% of the 18-35years-age cohort are first time voters.
CCF Chief Executive Officer, Akuila Yabaki, says CCF is glad to note that for the first time in Fiji’s history people, as young as 18 years will have the chance to exercise their democratic right and he called on the youth to utilize this opportunity.
“Although the 18 years voting age was then not accepted into the 1997 Constitution, I am glad to note that PM Bainimarama on March 9th 2012 announced that these as specified non-negotiable issues which are now in the 2013 Constitution. Many of the youths today will have never voted before and never truly engaged in political matters,” said Yabaki
Yabaki urged young people to actively participate in the democratic activities.
“The cudgel is in your hands, today’s young people to participate and be the change you want to be,” said Yabaki.
“Take your stand first. Position yourself first. Become the role-play in your society. Make a difference and keep going. Sooner rather than later your friends’ friends will join their friends to join you,” said Yabaki.
CCF thanks Conciliation Resources (CR) and Bread for the World (EED) for funding this study.