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Lack of facilities: Thousands of special people may not vote

Lack of facilities: Thousands of special people may not vote

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Oct 14, 2018 - 09:41

MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): Thousands of people with disabilities may not vote in the Oct 20 Wolesi Jirgainfo-icon elections if they are not facilitated to do so, activists say.

Afghanistaninfo-icon’s People with Disabilities Association (APDA) officials say their problems relating to elections were not considered.

Remoteness of polling stations, no use of Braille reading and writing system for blind and visually impaired people and no humanitarian support to disabled people are problems handicapped people are faced with, according to the association.

APDA head Ahmad Shah Azimi addressed an awareness-creating gathering about elections of people with disabilities in Mazar-i-Sharif, capital of northern Balkh province on Saturday.

He said the Independent Election Commission (IECinfo-icon) had promised to provide facilities for disabled people during elections, but nothing could be seen on the ground.

“People with disabilities are also citizens of this country and the law gives them the right to vote,” he added.

He said there were around one million people with disabilities in Afghanistan and almost half of them were eligible to participate in polls.

Azimi said thousands of special people would be deprived of participating in elections if they were not provided with facilities.

Rohullah, a blind person, told Pajhwok that it was his legal right to participate in elections.

He said no facilities were provided to the special people to participate their participation in the Oct 20 polls. He said creating awareness through workshops was important for disabled people.

“If we are considered citizens of this country, then we have the right to take part in national political processes,” he said.

He said lack of wheelchairs was one of their major problems. Rohullah added they could not go to polling stations without wheelchairs.

Hamayon Hakimi, representative of people with disabilities in the Youth Parliament, said they in general did not trust the election process.

He said many special people could not participate in polls due to bad condition of road and lack of facilities to transport them.

 “Another problem is that candidates misuse our votes, for example how will I know the person that will cast my vote in the ballot box is choosing the same candidate I support,” he said.

Lack of information about elections for people with disabilities is another major problem, he added.

Meanwhile, Balkh IEC head Mohammad Zahir Akbari said they had arranged some facilities for the special people.

He said wheelchairs would be available in every polling station on the Election Day and disabled people could use them for movement to cast their votes.

Blind people would be helped by IEC-appointed persons in polling stations in casting their votes to the candidates of their choice, Akbari added.

“Yes we did not print Braille text ballot papers, which is a problem, another problem is that most of people with disabilities are uneducated so Braille text cannot help much.”

He said the IEC was trying to enable every eligible Afghan to cast vote on the Election Day.

mds/ma

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