Youth leaders representing Civil Society Organizations under the Elections Sub-group including African Youth Development Link (AYDL), are calling for electoral reforms that support the inclusion of Persons with Disabilities and youth in Uganda’s electoral process.
Speaking to the press Namakajo Derrick, Said they appreciate the legal and structural environment that supports the participation of all citizens and special interest groups is in place, however there are some barriers in the legal, policy, and administrative management of elections that hinder the effective participation of youth and persons with disabilities that need the attention of the relevant stakeholders.
Quoting a report by the African Youth Development Link for the 2021 general elections said the provision for the use of a national electoral college for the election of Youth MPs, PWD Parliamentary representatives breeds’ alienation of the regional voters from their representatives as accountability to them (voters) by the elected representatives for the region is not guaranteed, adding, High nomination fees for Parliamentary and Local Government candidature, which has kept many out of the electoral process.
He asked parliament to amend the National Youth Council Act to allow direct youth elections with the aim of amplifying youth voices in electoral democracy, but also change how the representatives are elected as this doesn’t directly represent other youths.
“They should also amend the Parliamentary Elections Act with respect to youth MPs and PWD elections to align it with the universal adult suffrage system. Secondly, Parliament should review and amend the repugnant sections of the relevant electoral laws to ensure express provisions for regional representation of PWD in parliament,” noted.
The Youth advised the Electoral Commission to to register all PWD- eligible voters for the purposes of establishing and maintaining a national database of all eligible PWDs voters.
They argue that this will make it easier for the Electoral Commission to plan appropriately for the electoral needs of PWDs in the country.
They also want the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) to indicate on the national IDs the nature of disability for Persons with Disabilities to support EC with accurate data that will guide them to effectively plan for their participation at all stages of the electoral cycle.
Maxzon Muhwezi from the NRM Youth League, said people living with disabilities face challenges accessing polling stations, among others.
He asked Political parties to ensure the inclusion of PWDs in their structures considering the registration and overseer roles played by the Electoral Commission to the political parties.
“We propose the above reforms to the government with a view of ensuring the inclusion of youth and persons with disabilities in the electoral processes and also guarantee their right to vote as provided for under Article 59 of the Constitution,” he said.
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