Catholic bishops caution police, EC on election

Wednesday January 06 2021
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Bishop Joseph Anthony Zziwa. PHOTO/COURTESY.

By Ephraim Kasozi

Catholic Bishops have cautioned the Police Force against unnecessarily inviting the military in the bid to ensure a secure election process in the country.

The chairman of the Uganda Episcopal Conference, Bishop Joseph Anthony Zziwa, yesterday said the police should desist from unnecessary disruption of political activities authorised by the election management body.

“…the Police should always invite the military as the last resort given the latter’s limited knowledge and experience in crowd management; the military is trained for battle not crowd control,” he said.

He also called  for swift action against errant officers and investigations into incidences of death and injuries caused by security as means of restoring public confidence in the security organs. 

“The police should be seen to be in-charge of all security agencies involved in the electoral process and take full responsibility for any unprofessional conduct notwithstanding individual liabilities under relevant laws,”  the Kiyinda-Mityana Catholic Diocese bishop said.

The clergy challenged the Electoral Commission to ensure confidence of all by engaging all political players on all matters likely to affect the credibility of the process and the common good.

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“It is unfortunate that right from the first elections in 1961, the credibility of our electoral management bodies has been doubted by some stakeholders. In some cases, those who disagreed with the outcomes of polls waged costly wars,” the bishops said.

The bishops’ remarks were contained in the pastoral letter on the 2021 General Election presented by Bishop Zziwa on behalf of the Catholic bishops at the media briefing at the Nsambya Catholic Secretariat in Kampala.

In the 39-page pastoral letter, which doubles as New Year message, the bishops observed that amid political campaigns a number of challenges have already emerged and require urgent attention.

“We as shepherds of the flock, cannot look aside as society slides into injustice and violence,” Bishop Zziwa said.
He added that their intervention does not seek to usurp duties of others.

Concerns

The bishops listed 10 major concerns which they say  if not addressed, could taint the credibility of the polls.

These include breach of peace and rights of persons, intolerance, discord in political parties, commercialisation of elections and bribery.
Others are intimidation, management of election results, abusive and derogatory language, enforcement of Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedures, restrictions on the use of mass media, attacks on journalists and civil society organisations, inadequate voter education as well as the role of the youth.

Bishop Zziwa warned all political candidates to desist from acts that can destroy the peace,  foundation of economic and political development.

editorial@ug.nationmedia.com 

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