The Minister of Social Welfare, Melrose Karminty, and Chief Minister, David Moinina Sengeh, recently hosted the executive members of the Sierra Leone Union on Disability Issues (SLUDI) in a crucial meeting ahead of the upcoming elections.

Minister Karminty has been actively guiding a process since February, which culminated in a joint communiqué signed between SLUDI and its counterparts, aiming for a brighter and more sustainable future for persons with disabilities. She detailed her ministry’s series of engagements with SLUDI that led to the signing, addressing pre-existing issues among persons with disabilities, including a significant court matter that she successfully negotiated to settle out of court.

However, she noted that challenges resurfaced during the communiqué’s implementation phase, with some SLUDI executives insisting that the matter remained unresolved in court. Despite evidence indicating the case’s withdrawal, disputes persisted.

National Secretary General of SLUDI, Abu Bakarr Koroma, contested the claim, stating that due process for court withdrawal was not followed and that SLUDI executives were excluded from key decisions, including the selection of the election body. Koroma emphasized the need to adhere to SLUDI’s constitution, the guiding document for their elections.

Conversely, Mohamed A. Kamara, National Coordinator of the National Disability Coalition, asserted that all parties had agreed to remove the matter from court, noting that the current executive’s term expired in 2017. He assured the Chief Minister that the prosecuting parties had indeed withdrawn the case, despite SLUDI executives’ denials.

Chief Minister Sengeh commended the Ministry of Social Welfare for their efforts in facilitating the peace process and the signing of the communiqué. He underscored the importance of issues affecting persons with disabilities and emphasized his personal and professional commitment to resolving them.

The Chief Minister highlighted that the meeting was prompted by a letter from SLUDI and praised the formation of an election management committee comprising members from reputable institutions such as the ONS, Human Rights, the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, the Sierra Leone Police, and ECSL. He advised SLUDI to register under the Ministry of Labour and urged all parties to maintain peace and transparency in the electoral process. He called on the current SLUDI executive to provide a registered list of Disabled Persons Organizations to the election management body to ensure a fair and peaceful election.