Empower Persons with Disabilities in Sierra Leone’s Polls: Church Entity to Authorities

Fr. Peter Konteh, Executive Director of Caritas Freetown in Sierra Leone. Credit: Caritas Freetown

The Executive Director of Caritas Freetown in Sierra Leone has called on authorities in the West African nation to ensure that Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) are adequately empowered to participate in the country’s elections slated for June 24.

In a message shared with ACI Africa on Sunday, March 19, Fr. Peter Konteh notes that PWDs, just “as everyone else”, have a right to vote, and must therefore be facilitated to participate in the electoral process.

“As our country Sierra Leone prepares for the upcoming elections, it is important to recognize that people with disabilities have the same rights as anyone else to participate in the electoral system. Disability does not define a person's ability to make informed decisions or to express their political views,” Fr. Konteh says.

He adds, “People with disabilities must be given equal access and opportunities to participate in the electoral process. All citizens, regardless of their physical abilities, should be able to exercise their right to vote and have their voices heard.”

He calls on election officials in Sierra Leone to ensure that people living with disabilities are able to participate fully in the electoral process. This, he said, can be done by enhancing accessibility of polling stations.


“Polling stations can be made more accessible by providing ramps, wider doors, and assistive technology such as braille ballots or audio guides,” the Caritas Freetown official who has been vocal about Sierra Leone’s upcoming elections says.

He continues, “It is also important to provide information about the electoral process in accessible formats, such as plain language or sign language interpretation. Additionally, training election officials on how to interact with and assist people with disabilities can go a long way in making the electoral process more inclusive.”

Fr. Konteh notes that by prioritizing the needs of people with disabilities in the electoral process, Sierra Leone can ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to participate in the democratic process and make their voices heard.

Meanwhile, the Sierra Leonean Catholic Priest has called on religious leaders in the West African country to promote unity, peace, and truthfulness “as fundamental principles for a successful and peaceful election process” in the country.

“As religious leaders, you hold a vital role in fostering these values in our communities. I urge you to continue to lead by example, promoting messages of peace, harmony, and respect for all individuals and groups, regardless of their political affiliations,” the member of Clergy of Sierra Leone’s Freetown Archdiocese has said.

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“I encourage you to pray for our country's peace during these uncertain times and to offer hope and guidance to those who may feel overwhelmed or anxious,” Fr. Konteh has said in his message to leaders of various faiths in the country.

He has added, “Your leadership and guidance can help to create a sense of calm and confidence in our communities, as we work together to ensure a peaceful and successful election process.”

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.