Religious Leaders Renew Commitment to Free and Fair Elections Agenda

Published By UNNGOF |  March 9, 2015

On 19th February 2015, over 60 religious leaders gathered at Inter Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) offices to discuss with civil society and opposition parties their role in the free and fair elections agenda.. Participants emanated from Orthodox Church, Muslim community, Church of Uganda, Roman Catholic Church, and the Born again Faith Federation.

Mr. Godber Tumushabe, the team leader at the Secretariat for the Free and Fair elections campaign, gave a background of the campaign and what has transpired since February 2014 when it was launched. Some of the key critical points included brief on regional forums for free and fair elections, the national consultation and finally the adoption of a citizens’ compact containing 17 proposed reforms

The discussions focused on the role of religious leaders having observed that they are in the best position to demand from political leaders to heed to the reform processes whenever an opportunity arises.

The impeding factor to achieving realistic reforms and change in Uganda is the continued divisionism along political, religious, ethnic, and social lines, which destroys the building of the nation. Ugandans should be united in their diversity in order to push for the reforms collectively. The religious leaders committed to preach and call for unity at their various platforms for a united citizenry.

Majority expressed concern about the timing in which reforms would happen since the elections start this year with the party primaries. However it was clarified that if sufficient pressure is exerted on the executive the responsible parties shall respond to the calls for reforms. .

The leaders decried the continued suppression of other candidates by the incumbency during the election campaigns where state resources are used to converse votes at the expense of tax payers. Therefore, religious leaders resonated the proposal that incumbent leaders hand over power to the Chief Justice for a leveled play field during campaigns.

With mention of the unfair treatment by the police and security operatives during citizens’ gatherings and opposition parties’ rallies, religious leaders emphasized the need for the security personnel to exercise fairness to every political actor if we are to achieve genuine free and fair elections.

As a way forward, religious leaders committed to: Deliver a joint press statement by IRCU; shun personal gifts from the President or receive them as institutions and not individuals; and ensure visible participation of religious leaders in regional feedback meetings.