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Youth leaders want government to support PWDs to participate in electoral process

Youth leaders addressing a news conference in Kampala on May 26.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | A group of youth leaders has outlined ways in which the government can improve the participation of young people and people with disabilities in the electoral process.

At a news conference held in Kampala on May 26, youth leaders representing Civil Society Organisations under the Elections sub-group including African Youth Development Link (AYDL), as the coordinating entity; Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA Uganda); Rwenzori Peace Bridge for Reconciliation (RPBR) in Kasese; and, Show Abilities Uganda (SAU)-an organization that works for youth with disabilities, and youth in political parties under the Inter-Party Youth Platform said the move will enhance political inclusion.

“We are here to talk about electoral reforms that support the inclusion of Persons with Disabilities and youth in Uganda’s electoral process. The discussion is timely because we only have one year and a half to the start of our election year which is 2026,” the group said in a statement.

The participation of youth and persons with disabilities in their respective structures and at all levels of political leadership is also provided for in the Electoral Commission Act, Parliamentary Elections Act, Local Government Act, National Youth Council Act, and Persons with Disabilities Act 2020.

However, the group said, whereas the legal and structural framework supports youth and persons with disabilities and their participation in the electoral process, it had identified 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.

One, it said, there is a denial of the right to vote by the Electoral College system for this group.

It thus recommends that Parliament should amend the National Youth Council Act to allow direct youth elections with the aim of amplifying youth voices in electoral democracy.

In addition, it should also amend the Parliamentary Elections Act with respect to youth MPs and PWD elections to align it with the universal adult suffrage system.

Parliament should review and amend the repugnant sections of the relevant electoral laws to ensure express provisions for regional representation of PWD in parliament.

The other challenge has to do with the high nomination fees for Parliamentary and Local Government candidature. The youth group says, that the Electoral Commission should make proposals to Parliament for consideration of possible amendments such as a waiver or 75% reduction on nomination fee to promote the full inclusion of youth and PWDs in the entire electoral process.

That the Electoral Commission should take the initiative to register all PWD-eligible voters for the purposes of establishing and maintaining a national database of all eligible PWDs voters.

It also wants the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) to collect disability disaggregated data and also ensure that all disability categories are catered for when they are generating census data to support the EC when planning for voter registration

The National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) should also 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.

The Electoral Commission should train its employees in basic sign language interpretation in consultation with organizations of persons with disabilities to be able to respond to their needs.

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