With less than 2 years to the start of another general election season, a group of political party youth leaders is calling for full inclusion of youth and Persons With Disabilities (PWDs) in the electoral processes.
The youth are pushing for electoral reforms that will guarantee their right to vote as provided for under Article 59 of the Constitution.
Addressing a joint news conference in Kampala this morning, Derick Namakajjo Chairperson of the African Youth Development Link said that although the legal and structural framework supports youth and Persons With Disabilities ‘participation in the electoral process, they have identified some barriers in the legal, policy, and administrative management of elections.
These, he says hinders effective participation of youth and persons with disabilities that need the attention of the relevant stakeholders.
“These barriers are generated from the election observation report for African Youth Development Link for the 2021 general elections and a series of post elections engagements with youth and persons with disabilities conducted in the districts of Arua, Budaka, Abim, Mayuge, Amuria, Kabale, Kanungu, Masaka and at national level in Kampala in 2021 and 2022”, said Mr. Namakajjo.
The youth leaders cite one of the barriers as denial of the right to vote by the Electoral College system which only allows participation of just a few, recommending that parliament amends the National Youth Council Act to allow direct youth elections with the aim of amplifying youth voices in electoral democracy.
Namakajjo also raised concern over the high nomination fees for Parliamentary and Local Government candidature saying the Shs 3,000,000m is out of reach for the ordinary PWDs and youth aspiring to be nominated as candidates for a Parliamentary election.
The group has also asked the Electoral Commission to take the initiative to register all PWD eligible voters to establish and maintain a national database of all eligible PWDs voters.
“The absence of disaggregated data on persons with disabilities suffocates proper planning by the Electoral Commission to redress disability electoral needs for the promotion of an inclusive electoral process. Accurate statistics guide the planner to determine the mode of message for relay to the disability community and optimal quantities of electoral materials in accessible formats for an inclusive electoral process”, he said.
The youth have also noted that there has not been adequate inclusion of PWDs in the political party structures except for the National Resistance Movement which has an arm of PWDs structures that runs from the village to the National level.
“We therefore recommend that political parties ensure the inclusion of PWDs in their structures considering the registration and overseer roles played by the Electoral Commission to the political parties”, Mr. Namakajjo added.