Rwanda: Parliamentary Polls - People With Disability Reassured of Facilitation

Photo: New Times
National Electoral Commission officials conduct voter registration.

People with disability have been promised all necessary support during the forthcoming parliamentary elections and during the campaigns in the run up to the vote, to make sure no Rwandan misses out on exercising their civic duty.

During previous elections, people with disability say they grappled with various challenges like inaccessible polling stations while those with visual impairments could not vote for themselves but were compelled to come with someone above 14 to vote help them cast their ballot.

Currently, it is even difficult for persons with hearing impairment to make an informed choice during Election Day; because they are do not have an idea about the manifesto the candidates are presenting to the electorate.

For people with visual impairments, just like was the case last year during the presidential elections, they will be facilitated to vote using the braille.

Emmanuel Ndayisaba, the Executive secretary of National Council of Persons with Disability (NCPD) said they are working with the National Electoral Commission (NEC) to ensure that elections are well prepared and that all the challenges are addressed well in time.

He said that a lot has been done so far, ranging from easing the access to polling station as well as helping persons with visual impairments to vote for themselves.

He said that they will have ballot papers with braille -a tactile writing system used by people who are visually impaired - which were used for the first time during the presidential elections held last year.

"We have been discussing elections in the council, we trained persons with disabilities about their role and civic rights they are entitled to. We also encourage them to compete in these elections where they fulfil the requirements because it is their right as all Rwandans," he said.

Olive Kansanga, the electoral Management Specialist at NEC said that the commission has been working with partners such as the National Union of Disability Organisations of Rwanda and Handicap International to ensure persons with disability enjoy their rights to vote as other citizens.

She said that to ensure PWDs are well catered for, they intend to have some of them as polling agents on Election Day.

Persons with disability upbeat

William Safari, who has a visual impairment hailed the commission for having addressed their concerns saying that it a problem having to entrust someone with one's civic duty.

The parliamentary elections are slated for September 2, 3 and 4, according to the electoral calendar released by the commission.

According to NEC, throughout the country, the vote by adult suffrage within the country will be held within the country on September 3, while a day before; those in the diaspora will have voted the day before.

The same day (September 3), persons with disability will vote their representatives in Parliament while on September 4 there will be elections 24 female Deputies elected by specific electoral colleges in accordance with the national administrative entities and 2 Deputies elected by the National Youth Council.

Over 300,000 persons with disabilities will participate in the parliamentary elections. The current legislator representing persons with disability is Gaston Rusiha.

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