Clerics want army out of oil fields

Wednesday February 8 2012

By Francis Mugerwa

Religious leaders from the Albertine Region have demanded that government removes the army from oil installations in western Uganda, saying they cannot effectively carry out advocacy on oil when they cannot freely access the heavily-guarded installations.

“Remove the army and replace them with the police,” the 35-cleric team recommended after a two-day retreat.
Police recently created an oil and gas unit in the area, headed by Mr Abbas Byakagaba.

However, the Army spokesman, Col. Felix Kulayigye, questioned the motives of the clerics.

“If anybody is well-intentioned, why should they demand the removal of security from the Albertine area where there is oil?” Col. Kulayigye said. “Do they want to preach to the oil?”

The clerics from the Anglican, Orthodox, Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist churches and the Islamic faith from West Nile, Rwenzori, Bunyoro and Acholi sub-regions, made the resolution on January 30 during a meeting under the Inter Religious Council of Uganda in Hoima Town.

While debating their oversight role in the extractive industries, they said they are cognisant of the fact that oil and other natural resources have been a source of violent conflicts in many countries in Africa, including Nigeria, Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Picking leaf
They said they are encouraged by sustainable use of oil and other natural resources in countries such as Botswana and Norway, which present hope that Uganda’s oil still has the chance to take this path.

The clerics expressed concern over the delay in reviewing the legislations and creation of institutions for effective management of Uganda’s oil, and urged government to expedite the implementation of parliamentary resolutions on oil during its special sitting in October last year.

Seeking relevance
They also demanded that religious leaders are included on oil governance bodies.

The head of communications in the Ministry of Energy, Mr Bukenya Matovu, told Daily Monitor yesterday that the new oil law is ready and is only awaiting parliamentary approval.

[email protected]