Electoral Participation as a Fundamental Political Right of Persons with Disabilities in Ethiopia; Critical Examination of the Law and the Practice

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Addis Ababa University


In the 21" century where people are becoming the ultimate sources of political power, it is hard for a country to call itself as a democracy without maintaining participatory and inclusive political environment in its polity. Though it is apparent that politics and political participation starts at home and ends elsewhere at different levels, active involvement of citizens as voters and candidates in elections and effective participation as members of different political parties can be seen as a commonly known manifestations of political participation. With these points in mind, this paper is intended to scrutinize the political role of persons with disabilities that account around 10% of the total population in the Ethiopian politics only to the extent of their participation as voters, candidates for elections and as members of different political parties. Accordingly, the research identifY that people with disabilities have not peen participating in the past four elections conducted in the recent years history of the country. All these marginalization are altributed to the altitudinal, legal, institutional, financial, inpastructural, technical and related faclors as barriers. Though there are conceptual transformations in approaching disability pom the medical and charity perceptions to those of social and human rights approaches at the internalionallevel, the countly does not seem to cope up with such changes. Again, though there are human righls instruments recognizing the political participation in general and electoral rights of PWDs at different level, these instruments are not serving as effective guaranlees to ensure Ihe rights oflhese groups of people. Taking inlO consideration of Ihese challenges, the author suggesled valuable recommendaliol1s. Most importantly, the need to come up wilh accurate and well researched disability census dala record syslem, the enactment of disability specific national election law thaI can accommodale Ihe specific needs of these people in exercising Iheir elecloral rights, inlroducing the quota system, special funding incenlives and Ihe general awareness and altitudinal changes are the primwy steps that the counlly has to employ so as to alleviale the political participation of these people one step forward in the future electoral tournaments of the country.



Fundamental Political, Right of Persons with Disabilities in Ethiopia