Conference on Youth Political Participation in MENA launches in Amman

BOTTOM Conference
Minister of Youth Mohammad Nabulsi speaking at the Youth Political Participation conference on January 15, 2022. (Photo: Hashem El-Sharif/Jordan News)
AMMAN — The first day of a two-day long conference centered around the political participation of youth in the MENA region took place at the Landmark Hotel in Amman on Saturday in a joint effort by the Embassy of Norway and Al-Quds Center for Political Studies.اضافة اعلان

Under the patronage of Jordan’s Minister of Youth Mohammad Nabulsi, the meeting hosted the Embassy of Norway’s Deputy Head of Mission Rita Sandberg and other embassy officials, as well as the editor-in-chief of Sudan’s news outlet “Elaf” Khalid Tijani.

Editor-in-chief of Sudan’s news outlet “Elaf” Khalid Tijani speaking at the Youth Political Participation conference on January 15, 2022. (Photo: Hashem El-Sharif/Jordan News)

In opening remarks, Nabulsi said that “too often, discussions on youth political participation outline a wide range of issues that need solving, but end without providing a proportionate number of solutions.”  He urged attendees to articulate their proposed solutions.

Founder of Al-Quds Center for Political Studies, Oraib Rantawi, asked “why do some youth avoid working with certain political parties in their attempt to engage in politics?” giving the audience a point to ponder.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Jordan News spoke with Rantawi on his views regarding Article 70 of the Jordanian constitution (recently approved by both the Lower and Upper House), to reduce the minimum age of candidates running for the Lower House elections from 30 to 25 years.  Rantawi said he believed that the amendment was a positive step for Jordanian youth’s engagement in political life.

“Just because these changes now allow 25 year old Jordanians to run for parliamentary elections does not mean that the entirety or even most of the Lower House will be composed of 25 year olds. These legal changes simply allow for more inclusion of our youth into the political process, which can only be a good thing. Personally, I have been politically active since the age 15, so the idea of a 25 year old being politically active is not as odd as some people claim it is,” Rantawi said.

The meeting engaged in dialogue on youth political participation in Sudan, and the participation of Iraq’s youth in political life, starting with an overview of the political situation in each of the two countries and followed by questions and answers with media representatives present at the meeting.

On Sudan’s youth, participants pointed out the pivotal role of Sudan’s youth in orchestrating recent political revolutions, including the most recent Sudanese Revolution of December 2018, which ultimately deposed President Omar Al-Bashir.

Experts on Zoom emphasized how many of Sudan’s youth are preferring to engage in the political system through “resistance committees”, as opposed to political parties, due to their flexibility and lack of centralization.

During the discussion on Iraq’s youth, the head of Kulwatha Center for Studies and Measurement of Iraqi Public Opinion, Basil Hussein stressed that Iraq’s unsuccessful effort to make its youth more politically active is partly due to a constitutional shortfall, and partly because the youth do not have faith in the country’s political system.

Hussein recommended to resolve Iraqi youth abstinence from politics through a “youth quota” and lauded the role of social media platforms as viable fora for youth political participation, noting that many of Iraq’s recent political decisions came as a result of pressure voiced by young Iraqis on social media outlets.

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