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November 25, 2002

Disabled To Boycott 2004 Elections

From:, Africa - 25 Nov 2002

From Michael Attega, Tamale

The disabled say they will boycott the 2004 elections unless government takes steps to improve their standard of living.

In an emotional demonstration, a teacher of the Savelugu School for the Deaf, A. Rauf, himself deaf, held participants spell bound when he said disabled people will boycott the 2004 general elections because of government's lack of care of their plight.

"If (we) the disabled people's plight is not addressed by the authorities early enough, we will contemplate the 2004 elections to press home our demands", Rauf said in his sign language which was interpreted to journalists.

Rauf was making a contribution at a forum in Tamale. to sensistise the media on the plight of the disabled.

Rauf's protest came as no surprise as organisers of the seminar had sent an invitation letter to the Regional Co-coordinating Council for the meeting, but neither the Deputy Regional Minister, Mr. Issah Ketekewu, nor any official represented him at the meeting.

The Country Director of Action on Disability and Development (ADD) an NGO and organisers of the seminar, Mr. Thomas Issah said ADD believes that disability is a human rights issue and should be treated seriously.

He said it is for this reason that over the years his organisation has spent a lot of time and resources in the training of its partners in advocacy and lobbying. In this regard, the ADD Country Director made a passionate appeal to the media to highlight disability issues.

Participants however pointed out that if it had been political parties rally, many political leaders would have turned out in their numbers to ostensibly canvas for votes.

"Politicians must learn to appreciate the positive roles the disabled also play in the society," participants said.

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