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General News of Thursday, 22 September 2016

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Let’s have elections devoid of violence - PWDs

Persons with disability (PWDs) have made a passionate appeal to political parties, their supporters and other actors in this year’s general election to ensure that the poll is devoid of violence, since the physically challenged are more vulnerable to incidents of electoral violence.

According to them, while able-bodied Ghanaians could find their way out of the country when there was violence, they stood no chance of surviving the chaos.

The leaders of the Ghana Association of Persons with Albinism, the Ghana National Association of the Deaf, the Ghana Blind Union and the Ghana Federation of the Disabled also urged the parties to prioritise the needs of PWDs and not do so as an afterthought.

Concerns

They expressed their concern ahead of the 2016 Election at the Ghana Peace Summit organised in Accra by the Here for Perfection (H4P) Organisation, a non-governmental organisation that champions the cause of the physically challenged.

The summit was intended to create the platform for PWDs in the country to add their voices to the quest for peace before, during and after the December 7 polls.

The event brought together leaders of political parties, some state institutions and the Electoral Commission (EC) to deliberate on potential threats to peace in the country.

The Executive Director of the Ghana Association of Persons with Albinism, Mr Newtown Kutseku, observed that beyond the fear of violence, members of the association lived in fear of being used for rituals during elections.

“We PWDs cannot be refugees in our own country. Let us fight the common goal of ensuring peace,” he said.

Give peace a chance

The Executive Director of the Ghana National Association of the Deaf, Mr James Sambian, appealed to all political parties and duty bearers to give peace a chance because without peace there could be no development.

With concerns of electoral violence increasing, he said it was important for the electorate to avoid provoking one another.

“When those of us in the deaf community go to vote, we should do it in a peaceful manner and the public should also not provoke hearing-impaired people,” he advised.

With six peaceful elections since 1992, Ms Emma Bruce-Lyle, a representative of the Ghana Federation of the Disabled, said she believed that this year’s elections would not disintegrate the country.

She observed with concern the tension that characterised political discussions in the media, saying that “elections are not do-or-die affairs”.

With issues concerning PWDs finding little space in the ongoing political discourse, she urged the political parties to put emphasis on putting in place structures to protect PWDs.

The Executive Director of the Ghana Blind Union, Dr Obeng Asamoah, said the presidential ambition of politicians should not compromise the country’s peace.

He called for a more tolerant approach to politics in the country, adding that the need for accommodating one another was very crucial to further strengthen the country’s peace.

EC meets needs of PWDs

The Coordinator of the Gender and Disability Desk of the EC, Mrs Gloria Nutakor, stated that the needs of the PWD community had been well catered for by the commission to ensure that they were not disenfranchised.

According to her, the EC would recruit PWDs for the upcoming elections if they had the requisite qualifications.

Commitment to peace

Representatives of the All People’s Congress (APC), the Convention People’s Party (CPP), the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the National Democratic Party (NDP) and the People’s National Convention (PNC) committed their parties to uphold the peace before, during and after the elections.

The Commandant of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), Air Vice-Marshall Griffiths Santrofi Evans, implored Ghanaians to avoid anything that could provoke conflict, as war was real and no one should wish for it, while peace was good but difficult to achieve.

The occasion was used to launch the peace songs of the H4P Crew, the music wing of the NGO, to campaign for peace ahead of the elections.