Don’t scare us, Museveni must retire-clerics tell Rugunda

Religious leaders from West Nile have told Rugunda not to intimidate them with closing their churches

Religious leaders have told the country’s Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda to go slowly and desist from intimidating them on the presidential age limit bill.

At the close of last week, Rugunda rushed to his twitter handle and denied threatening religious leaders into silence over the age limit issue, having earlier warned them to mind what they say or government shuts down their churches.

“I advised religious leaders to first appreciate political issues at hand before engaging the public on them,” Rugunda was quick to exonerate himself.

He added: “I did NOT say anything about closing churches/places of worship as some are falsely claiming on sections of social media.”

This followed a statement from West Nile Inter-Religious leaders (Arua, Yumbe, Maracha and Koboko districts) condemning the government for tampering with articles 26 & 102(b) of the constitution.

West Nile Inter-religious leaders held a workshop to discuss their role on matters of national importance, especially the political environment and how religion can continue to promote justice and fairness for all.

“Our political history has a big hallmark of religion right from colonialism which was championed by missionaries, who provided social services such as Church aided Education (built schools) and health care (built hospitals),” said Rev. Dr. David Omona.

Addressing Religious leaders from Northern Karamoja (Kotido, Abim, Kaabong) about peace, justice and the role of the religious leaders on matters of national importance, Omona said the proposed amendment of the articles has resulted in a lot of controversy and hate.

“As Religious leaders we cannot remain silent. Our role is to demand for justice and fairness for all Ugandans.”

He added: “These articles are in our Constitution, this Constitution has been abused a lot. But we believe that if this process is not handled carefully, it will break the back of Uganda and we will never be the same again.”

According to Dr Omona, the country is experiencing a big challenge where people are losing trust in the institutions meant to serve them.

“People have abandoned their right to vote because some believe that the outcome is predetermined.”

Sister Lillian Acheng agreed that the country is on a slippery ground and when a country is on a slippery ground, so are families within it.

According to Rev. Can Ceke Mungu Copo, illiteracy and poverty have become tools for some people to use to manipulate others on matters of national importance.

“We cannot compromise on this issue of Age Limit. Personally, I say no to its deletion out of the Constitution.”

Rev Michael Okwi called religious leaders ambassadors of social justice.

“Is there justice in Uganda? One side said we shall wear red ribbons and it was taken to be bad, but one side has started to wear yellow ribbons and it is okay. That is not justice.”

Rev. Okwi said the Constitution amendment must not be left to NRM but it is a matter that must be handled by all Ugandans.

He advised President Museveni to allow an inclusive process and allow a Constitutional Review process or abide by the Constitution as he retires peacefully.

“Everything grows and gets old. Government’s come and go. Before President Museveni, there was Uganda and after him there will be Uganda.”

“Let us be the voice of the voiceless, Let us be the conscience of society. The excesses of double standards must be checked by us the Religious Leaders.”

Rev Okwi said he was glad that at 65 years, he will retire as an Anglican. “But it looks like at 65 you are too old to be Bishop & at 75 you are too young to be President.”

Turning to Rugunda, he said: “However much they intimidate us, the Church cannot be killed by political leaders. Fairness must be for all. If all these people come here let us listen to all.”

Ekwee Ocen Benson, the Executive Director of Public Affairs Centre said Article 102(b) is part of the content of an advert for the job of the Office of the President of Uganda.

“Let not an applicant decide for Uganda which kind of President that should be hired. Uganda wants a President who is 35 – 75 years.”

He said the reason why the framers of the Constitution thought it was right to have article 26 in the Constitution was to protect all the properties of citizens from the government of the day.