Churches in Uganda rally to Condemn Harassment of Opposition

2 JUNE 2015

Uganda: Clerics Condemn Harassment of Opposition Figure

By Samuel Kamugisha

The Uganda Joint Christian Council has spoken out on electoral reforms and the recent arrests of key opposition figures. The clerics, including Rev Stanley Ntagali of the Anglican Church, Dr Cyprian Kizito Lwanga of the Catholic Church and Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga of the Orthodox Church faith, want government to work on electoral reforms ahead of next year’s polls.

In a statement issued on Monday during their general assembly at Pope Paul Memorial Centre in Kampala, the clerics said they were nonpartisan and were only “airing out our opinions as these are concerns and complaints by the opposition political parties and civil society organizations that their proposals submitted were not considered”.

“We therefore urge government to take a fresh look at issues pertaining to the electoral reforms,” said Dr Lwanga. “We should be part of the process for shaping the way the country is governed which in a way affects how Christians practice their faith.”

UJCC will also write a joint pastoral letter to government, in which they will detail their recommendations on what should be done before, during and after the polls.

The leaders also condemned the “the attempts by anyone in positions of authority trying to muzzle the voice of opposition political parties through interference with their rights to organize and freely canvass for support”. Recently, efforts by key opposition figures to hold electoral reform meetings have been greeted with arrests and detention

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This meeting, of Church Leaders at the Pope Paul Memorial Centre in Kampala, highlights the Roman Catholic initiative in calling together the Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican leaders in Uganda to discuss the obvious problems of overt governmental harassment of Opposition Parties’ activity, which leads them to call for democratic rights for all parties seeking to join the government in Uganda.

As the Anglican Archbishop, Stanley Ntagali, is also involved in this move, this seems a welcome change from his overt support for repressive legislation against the LGBT people of Uganda. If the Opposition parties are allowed free access to democratic government, there may yet be hope for changes in legislation that will give hope for a more humane dealing with classes of citizens who otherwise are stigmatised and unjustly repressed.

This is a very welcome situation in one of the African countries where government is too often seen as not openly democratic – in ways that were hoped for after their break from the rule of overseas colonial powers.

A big bouquet for Church Leaders brave enough to seek justice where it is seen to be lacking.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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