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Disabled rights group seek 20 seats in House 0

Nairobi — Representatives of disabled people have asked the Committee of Experts and the House to give them at least 20 seats in the next Parliament. This the number would comprise 15 seats in the National Assembly through mixed representation and five seats in the Senate. The group also wants at least one representative in all constitutional commissions.

The disabled rights group told a news conference in Nairobi that the review of the draft in Naivasha by MPs had watered down their rights as proposed in the CoE’s harmonised draft.

Inasmuch as the Parliamentary Select Committee on the constitution review had reached a political consensus, the disabled too had to be represented, the chairman of the National Council for Persons with Disabilities, Mr Kibaya Laibuta, said.

“If the PSC found it necessary to make a numerical specification on the number of MPs, the number of MPs with disabilities should similarly be entrenched in the Constitution,” he said.

Mr Phitalis Were Masakhwe, who sits in the Reference Group, accused the PSC of “tokenism” in its allocation of seats to the disabled.

He said the 47 seats allocated to women, one each per county, was possible because women were represented at the PSC’s meeting in Naivasha.

“We support the constitution-making process, but we want it to be as inclusive as it can be,” said Mr Masakhwe.

The Kenya National Commission of Human Rights chairperson, Dr Florence Jaoko, said that unless there was a definite clause in the Constitution for the disabled, “it will be very difficult for them to get elected.”

Dr Jaoko, in an interview with the Nation, backed the proportional representation as proposed by the CoE saying it was only fair that their right to political representation is prescribed by the Constitution.

The representatives of at least three million disabled Kenyans termed the PSC’s proposal to share out the 12 slots for nominated MPs among “youth, workers” and the disabled, as “untenable and ambiguous.”

This clause, they said, is likely to be manipulated by political parties.

“The number 12 has no basis for purposes of ensuring adequate representation,” they said.

Mr Peter Mwaura, of the Albino Society of Kenya added: “If you don’t have people to represent us in Parliament, then it means we are unlikely to benefit from the laws made in that House.”

The CoE’s draft had proposed a five percent representation of disabled in all elective and appointive posts.

The use of Kenyan Sign Language, the disabled said, was important and the PSC “should not have deleted this provision.”

They also took issue with the PSC’s definition of their status saying it ought to recognise them as “rights-holders rather than ill persons requiring medical intervention.”

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By Alphonce ShiunduThe Daily Nation

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Direttore Responsabile Stefano Arduini