KAMPALA JUNE 17, 2016(CISA) – Uganda Episcopal Conference is calling on the government to “seriously address electoral reforms in order to realize sustainable democracy in Uganda.”
\“We are concerned that after the previous various sets of elections in Uganda, despite what appeared to be a generally peaceful electoral environment, it is evident that a situation of uncertainty continues to hover over many parts of our country,” said the bishops in a statement read by Archbishop John Baptist Odama, the chairperson of the Uganda Episcopal Conference and Archbishop of Gulu.
The bishops said that electoral reforms would help make Uganda a better country and promote good governance. “The electoral reforms will help to facilitate mutual understanding of one another especially as regards to people’s grievances, with a major purpose of finding consensus on key governance and leadership challenges,” the bishops said.
The bishop’s statement was released after a weeklong retreat at the Catholic Secretariat in Nsambya, Kampala, which took place from the June 6-10, 2016.
They further urged the new government to give priority “to creating more opportunities for all people irrespective of their political background as a strategy to promote harmony and co-existence.”
“We are concerned that before, during and after the February 2016 general elections, there was unnecessary clampdown on fundamental human rights and freedoms. This was the case, for instance, of the nationwide shutting down of social media and subsequently banning of the press from reporting certain political activities,” said the bishops.
The prelates said that the government must understand that “that, worldwide, the media is key and remains pivotal in enhancing democratic governance,” noting that “A free media is a sign of free and democratic society, which the government must respect as a partner institution in strengthening democratic governance.”
The bishops said that Ugandans were not being the justice they deserve from the courts. “We are concerned that many of these people are not being given the justice that the laws of Uganda prescribe.
The highhanded treatment of political opponents and the arrests of their supporters no doubt breed feelings of injustice and intolerance, especially when Uganda is still grappling with nurturing its young multiparty political system,” said the bishops.
“Let judges remember the word of God that said: ‘You must be impartial in judgement and give an equal hearing to small and great alike’ (Deut.1:17), and, ‘You must not pervert the law; you must be impartial; you will take no bribes, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and ruins the cause of the upright’ (Deut. 16:19),”added the bishops.
They however, called on the opposition leaders to ensure that they operate within the limits of the law, and to respect the rights of every Ugandan.