In Kenya, a group known as Persons Living with Disabilities (PLWDs) is urging President Barack Obama to pressure the government and security agencies to prevent possible violence in the March 4 general election.
“I will urge President Obama to help secure us. [He should] tell the security agencies in Kenya to increase protection for us because we are the most endangered people when there is violence. President Obama needs to talk to our country because alarm warnings are already there,” said PLWD coordinator, Hamisa Zaja.
“We have expressed so much concern because we are the ones who are facing violence every day because we cannot run, and because of our disabilities, most of us tend to die due to violence,” she added.
Zaja’s comments came after Obama urged Kenyans to reject violence and hold peaceful, fair elections next month. In a video, Obama said Kenya now “must take the next step” and allow a free and fair vote in the March 4 elections.
Zaja says many of the group’s members were killed during the 2007-2008 post-election violence, but said that exact numbers are not available.
Overall, the government estimates 1,133 people were killed and hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes during the post-election violence.
Zaja says the government has yet to implement measures to protect the disabled in the upcoming balloting.
The group also accuses Kenya’s political parties of excluding the disabled from prominent positions.
“In the ongoing party nominations, they are even denying us to have role in this because when we tried to participate they were telling us ‘no’ and that we have our special seats. But, right now our special seats have been occupied by the normal people in the National Assembly and in the county assembly,” said Zaja.
“We feel locked out in this election and are concerned that politicians are trying to use us,” she added.
Clottey interview with Hamisa Zaja, PLWD coodinator