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By Steve Beloved Kaunga
The reformation of electoral systems to ensure that disability issues are incorporated took a positive stride as FEDOMA and MEC have started developing the guidelines for inclusive elections. This was disclosed during an interface meeting that took place on Tuesday 22 September at Game Haven in Thyolo.
Prof. Edge Kanyongolo of University of Malawi who also moderated the meeting stressed the need that the country should embrace inclusive elections so that they reflect on democratic principles.
“We cannot say we have democratic elections if such elections are not inclusive, therefore the country has to take measures to ensure that persons with disabilities are effectively and fully participating on an equal basis with others,” he said.
The inclusive electoral guidelines among others call for government to put deliberate policies and measures that guarantee participation in political and public life by persons with disabilities. Furthermore, the guidelines look at eradicating common challenges faced by persons with disabilities during pre-elections, elections day and post elections. Among the key principles, the guidelines calls for voting materials that are appropriate, accessible and easy to use by persons with disabilities. In addition, electoral guidelines call for the availability of tactile ballots to be used by persons with visual impairment.FEDOMA Executive Director, Action Amos thanked MEC and other stakeholders that took part in developing the guidelines, and he promised to engage other stakeholders that are equally crucial in the electoral process such as political parties and the media so that inclusive elections are meaningful.
Commenting on the same MEC's Public Relations Officer, Sangwani Mwafulirwa said MEC will go extreme to make sure that there is exclusivity in the elections.
The 2006 United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) of which Malawi signed for it in 2007 and ratified in 2009, article 29 of UNCRPD: (a),(i) states that ‘the voting procedures, facilities and materials are appropriate, accessible and easy to understand and use.’The project is being funded by USAID through National Democratic Institute-NDI