As Gov’t interference into SLUDI elections raises concern… Members call for international community’s intervention

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By Alusine Sesay
Concerned and senior members of the disability community have raised serious concern over the undue interference of some state institutions and officials into activities leading to their elections.
Secretary-General of the Sierra Leone Union on Disability Issues (SLUDI), Abu Bakarr expressed their absolute reliant on the international community to protect them from bully by some state institutions and officials.
Bakarr was dilating on the diabolic plan of the Government of Sierra Leone to hijack the union during a radio interview at the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC).
The Chief Minister,David Sengeh, was seen in one of his social media posts holding a meeting with some members of the disable community in which a controversial agreement was reached for the elections to be conducted at district level, a decision that was against the wish of a majority of the members.
The Union had earlier described the activities of government to conduct elections for them as unconstitutional and a calculated ploy to capture the Union.
The Santigie led executive of the union had earlier called on their members not to participate in any of the electoral process organised by the government, and to ensure that they stay indoors to prevent any police brutality against them.
They recalled when police mercilessly beat up PWDs in Waterloo in 2021 and brought up some concocted charges against them, but they won in the court.
“We are not safe in this country, if government can go so low to install the police officers to conduct our elections against our wish, with the threat that the police should handle anyone who dares protest against such decision,” said one of SLUDI’s strong members.
He said despite the praises showered on President Bio to ensure that those brutalised by the police were brought before the law, government did not countenance them.
He described Sierra Leone as an acidic land for disability advocates who would demand transparency, accountability, or choose to stand for the right thing.
The anonymous speaker said Santigie Kargbo, Francis Ndanema, Buyah Sesay and Salieu Turay have been very vocal about getting the government to respect its obligations of providing free tertiary education and healthcare for PWDs in Sierra Leone.
“Because government does not want to be held accountable for asking university students with disabilities to pay fees and their neglect of certain provisions in the PWDs Act, they are fighting to install the person that won’t say anything against such neglect. Joseph has already stated in several groups that he would not campaign against government,” the person concluded.
Santigie Kargbo and Francis Ndanema are dedicated bold disability advocates who led the campaign for the sacking of the former Minister of Social Welfare Dr. Sylvia Blyden for refusing to sign for the release of funds for disability activities.
They also criticised former Minister of Education, Minkailu Bah for refusing to award scholarships to students with disabilities, and reported him to the Legal Aid Board, criticisedd President Bio for not appointing persons with disabilities into cabinet or positions of trust, and called for making public buildings accessible.
While their activities have been praised by many persons with disabilities, members of the ruling government have constantly maintained that their activities are politically motivated, and that SLUDI should be delivered from the hands of the opposition.

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