Kenya : Disabled want to be part of coalition gov’t

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The community of people with disabilities said Friday it envisaged a grand coalition government with the clout to deal with disability issues.

The disabled, who failed in their bid last month to have a representative in parliament, said in a statement made available to panapress that successive Kenyan governments had marginalised them.

“As Kenyans with disabilities, we have for far too long been forced to remain on the periphery of this country’s policy and legislation making processes. Even where policy or legislation has recognised our needs, its implementation has been patchy and half-hearted,” the community said in the statement, released under the aegis of a government agency – the Kenya National Commission of Human rights (KNCHR).

It added: “The overall consequences of this status quo have included the perpetuation of exclusion occasioned by our physical, sensory or intellectual impairments. This marginalisation has also encouraged society to heighten discrimination against us in the classroom, the work-place, the hospital and the family setting too.”

The disabled appealed to the three main political parties that took part in the flawed 2007 general election – the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), the Party of National Unity (PNU)and the Orange Democratic Movement of Kenya (ODM-K) – ” to stay true to their election promises and act decisively to enable the rights and development needs of over three million disabled Kenyans.”

The election manifestos of the three parties made a pitch for the disabled, whose plight they pledged to address as people who are entitled to a raft of freebies.

The parties pledged to prioritise disability rights in public policy as well as in legislative and administrative matters.

Last week, the Kenyan parliament enacted two important laws that will create post of prime minister and two deputy prime ministers with executive powers.

The creation of the three offices will radically transform the country’s administrative structure, hitherto presidential, into a partial parliamentary democracy.

The changes were necessitated by last December’s disputed presidential poll outcome, which the opposition is widely believed to have won.

“People with disabilities should have effective participation and representation in planning and decision-making organs. Special interests can be best articulated by those directly affected and so inclusive policies and legislation will only be implemented if persons with disabilities are involved,” the statement said. Panapress.

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