In Kenya, a group known as Persons Living with Disabilities (PLWDs) has expressed disappointment in all the presidential candidates, saying they failed to address their concerns in Monday’s presidential debate.
“We are not happy because none of the presidential candidates addressed some of the issues we’ve been raising during the debate,” said PLWD coordinator, Hamisa Zaja. “For example, the issue of our insecurity during this election, it has not been addressed the way we want it to be addressed.
“The candidates should be asked direct affecting questions on persons with disabilities so that they can answer them directly,” she added.
Zaja says members of her group also were displeased because they submitted questions to the debate organizers as well as the presidential candidates, and those questions were not answered, despite repeated assurances.
She says the presidential candidates also failed to discuss the challenges the disabled face in their daily lives.
"The people who are at fault and who had no answers are the candidates. For example they were asked about insecurity, but none of them said anything about the data of how many of the persons with disabilities have passed away, when there [are] issues about insecurity. So it’s about our leadership that is not concerned about our issues,” said Zaja.
The presidential candidates took part in the first of the two debates ahead of the March 4 general election. Monday’s debate was the first in Kenya since its independence in 1963 from former colonial power, Britain. The second debate is scheduled for February 25.
“We are expecting our concerns to be addressed at the next debate,” said Zaja.
Zaja says that her group will keep the pressure on Kenya’s political leaders until its security concerns are addressed.
“We are planning how to meet the debate people tomorrow to tell them how to ask [our] questions. We will also be meeting the chief justice so that the IEBC [Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission] plus the judiciary can sit down and see how we can participate in this process,” said Zaja.
Meanwhile, Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki, has urged citizens to reject hate speech and perpetrators who incite violence in the run up to next month’s vote.