UGANDA: Bishops Urge Agencies to Address Election Concerns ahead of Polls

By Arnold Neliba

KAMPALA, JANUARY 8, 2021 (CISA)-As Uganda awaits January 14 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections the Episcopal Conference of Uganda in a pastoral letter released on January 6 asked the Government, the Electoral Commission, security forces and other agencies to ensure a free and fair election.

“We are deeply concerned about certain anomalies that could taint the credibility of the electoral process and outcome of the polls if not addressed urgently,” reads the letter signed by Bishop Joseph Anthony Zziwa Chairman of Uganda Episcopal Conference.

The issues brought forth by the conference include breach of peace and rights of persons, intolerance, discord in political parties, Commercialization of elections, bribery, intimidation, mismanagement of election results, use of abusive and derogatory language, enforcement of the standard operating procedures, restrictions of the use of mass media and inadequate voter education.

“Some of these issues have also been noted by the courts of law, including the Supreme Court, in the various petitions filed by candidates challenging the outcome of similar elections in the past,” bishops said.

“We provide some basic principles that, we believe, should guide the conduct of all stakeholders in the electoral process if the outcome is to be credible, and love and harmony is to prevail in the country after the elections,” the conference said calling for respect for human life, respect for human dignity, promotion of justice, love and peace, upholding the common good, solidarity, and promoting community and democracy during the elections.

They invited the police force and other security agencies involved in the election process to dispense their mandate in a diligent and professional way urging the police to invite the military as a last resort given their, “limited knowledge and experience in crowd management; the military is trained for battle not crowd control.”

As voters await polls, the bishops encouraged them to take note of the rising cases of Covid-19 infections and exercise caution, and adherence to health protocols put in place by the Ministry of Health.