SSUPD holds a consultative meeting ahead of general elections

Participants during consultative meeting

By William Madouk Garang

South Sudan Union of Persons with Disabilities (SSUPD) yesterday held a consultative meeting with Stakeholders to mull over the electoral process of the upcoming April general elections.

The aim of the meeting is to seek views from partners on modalities of conducting the credible, free, and fair elections and on the selection of eligible participants from states’ Organization of Persons with Disabilities (OPDs).

The meeting was organized by the South Sudan Union of Persons with Disabilities (SSUPD) with funding from the African Disability Forum (ADF) – continental disabilities organization.

SSUPD interim chairperson, Augustino Wudu told the press that the purpose of the meeting was to iron out the issue of who will be eligible voters in the anticipated April elections.

“We have decided to have this meeting before and the general assembly so that we can get some opinion from our stakeholders and relevant authority to give us some ideas on the conduct of general assembly,” Wudu said.

“Of course, we are guided by our constitution, but we feel that it is necessary to have a consultative meeting because we have experienced some challenges to find who eligible voters are,” he added.

Mr. Wundu stated that members are supposed to come from across ten states and three administrative areas but some states don’t have organizations of persons of disabilities.

“We found that other states don’t have even OPDS. For example, Unity State and Upper Nile State they don’t have,[and] other states they have but at the level of the county,” he explained.

“According to the criteria eligible voters should come from the union, Union is an umbrella OPDs in that very state. That is why we have conducted this consultative meeting so that we can decide whether we go according to the Constitution, or we leave the Constitution and take another modality,” he concluded.

Representative of Persons with Disability in R-TGoNU who is also the Director of Disability Affairs in the office of Vice President – Rebecca Nyandeng, Dr. Stephen Dhieu Kuach said unity of persons with special need to help them speak with one voice.

“If they are not united, it is very impossible for anybody to listen to you. Of course, nobody will knock your door that I’m bringing you, your rights but you’ll be going knocking on somebody’s door that I need my right. You are violating my rights,” Kuach said.

“I believe we are the most marginalized persons in the government, we have not represented in anywhere at least women and youth have been recently included and even they have increased their percentage of representation, so we have been left out,” he added.

Dr. Kuach stated that there is a need to ratify laws that protect persons with disabilities in the country, citing that most of them don’t have legal and social protection including other basic needs.

Coordinator of continental organization – ADF for South Sudan, Chandiga John said they would observe to make sure that full board members were democratically elected to fight for the rights of persons with disabilities in the country

“ADF will be working as a member organization to make sure that the South Sudan SSUPD is strong, can lead and can advocate for the right of persons with disabilities in South Sudan and can also work for the ratification of the convention of right of a person with disabilities,” John noted.

“Our aim is to make sure those persons with disabilities not to become beneficiaries; they are to be partners in Service delivery. So, let’s work together with the stakeholders, they are not to be a reception but to service providers together with a different partner,” he added.

Africa Disability Forum – is a continental membership organization of persons with disabilities in Africa that advocates for the rights of persons with disabilities, build an inclusive in Africa where their voices are respected in the community.

ADF mission – is to promote the rights and inclusion of persons with disability, and their family in Africa, through empowerment and participation, unifying and amplifying their voices, and strengthening their organizations and partnership.

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