Full Length Research Paper
This paper presents findings from a study of political violence by party youth wings in sub-Sahara African polities from 1990 to date. Using a case study of Ghana, the research draws some similarities, and or differences in the mechanisms through which youth wings perpetrate violence across other parts of the sub-region. During the December 2016 general elections in Ghana, the aggressive role of party youth wings was very visible, and calls for policy attention. Due to the high stakes involved in wining or retaining state power in Africa, politicians value the organizational abilities of their respective youth groups. However, youth wings in most polities rather engage in aggressive political activities including, vandalizing public property, rioting/violent protests, seizer and control over facilities of public good, militias/vigilantism and electoral violence. And these acts thwart democratic advancement. Drawing on over four years of participant observation in Ghana; extensive analysis of media political discourse across Africa; and relevant secondary data, the author argues that though youth wings are meant to contribute positively to democratic consolidation through peaceful and democratic activities with their mother parties, they mostly rather engage in aggressive, violent politics, annulling the expectation of constructive contribution from the demographic majority in the continent. And this violent politics is generally due to their systemic exclusion from core political and democratic processes by their respective parties. These incendiary acts are catalyzed by increasing youth unemployment; weak institutions or unprofessional state agents; illegitimate electoral systems; political manipulation of social cleavages, and history of violence in societies all mired in patronage political system.
Key words: Youth wing, violence, political party, sub-Sahara Africa, democracy.
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