Inter-religious council condemns brutal arrests of presidential candidates

The Secretary General IRCU, Joshua Kitakule (R), Justice James Ogola (C) and Ankole Diocese Bishop Dr Fred Mwesigwa addressing the press on Wednesday. PHOTO/FELIX AINEBYONA 

What you need to know:

  • The religious leaders want the electoral commission to make rules governing the 2021 general elections clear to all players in the process.

The Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) has condemned the manner in which security forces handled presidential nominations and nominees on Tuesday, calling for fairness during the electoral process.

Addressing the media on Wednesday in Mbarara city, the Secretary General IRCU Joshua Kitakule - condemned the manner and nature of arrests for Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) party nominee Patrick Amuriat Oboi and National Unity Platform (NUP) party nominee Robert Kyagulanyi.

‘’We are concerned about the behavior and excessive force exhibited by security forces during the presidential nominations. The manner in which two of the candidates were treated before and after their nomination left a lot to be desired as it jeopardized freedom, the spirit of free and fair election, and cast the entire country in bad light.’’ Mr Kitakule said

 ‘’The conduct of the security agencies may not only undermine citizens confidence in the electoral process but may also set it on the path of violence which we are trying to avoid as a country’’ Mr Kitakule added.

Mr Kitakule said Uganda has a constitution that guides everybody while urging police to always respect the supreme law of the land while carrying out their duties.

The IRCU warned security forces and individual security officers to refrain from using excessive force.

‘’We call upon the inspector General of Police [IGP] and other heads of security agencies to use equal and appropriate actions when enforcing law and order to all citizens regardless their political affiliations. Security officers should use both their conscience and the law when handling dissent,’’ said Mr Kitakule

The religious leaders want the electoral commission to make rules governing the 2021 general elections clear to all players in the process.

Chairman Elders Forum Justice James Ogola said if Security agencies do not respect the constitution, there will be no election or it will not be regarded as free and fair.

‘’If we go on this way, without harmony, with force against force, with teargas one side and shoeless people running around, blood being splint in the streets then at the end of the exercise, it will be very difficult to convince anybody that it was an election, it was fair and free.’’ Mr Ogola said

 He added ‘’and without those qualifications, the constitutional mandate of bringing people’s will to choose who and how they will be governed, that mandate will not have been fulfilled so we need that sanity, civility, and harmony to come into this exercise so that truly those who come at the end of the exercise without doubt will say that this was an election, a free one, and a fair one.’’

The Ankole -Kigezi regional Kadhi Sheikh Abdlukarim Katamba asked security forces to respect the constitution and stop involving themselves in elections

‘’Police and the army should not involve themselves in elections by intimidating people to take away their rights,’’ Sheikh Katamba said

The Bishop of Ankole diocese Dr. Fred Sheldon Mwesigwa said religious leaders will never be at peace if there is violence in the electoral process.

‘’Religious leaders are going to commit to be good observers because the nation belongs to all of us and we should not be at peace when we have a turmoil in the electoral process,’’ Bp Mwesigwa argued.

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