AFRICA/UGANDA - Tension rises, the Bishops call for dialogue

Friday, 17 June 2016 elections   bishops  

Kampala (Agenzia Fides) - There is growing political tension in Uganda, where some soldiers were arrested on charges of plotting to overthrow President Yoweri Museveni. On June 13, police authorities announced that they had rejected an attack by an armed commando at a police station in the northern district of Gulu.
Meanwhile Kizza Besigye, the main opponent of President Musevani in the February elections, is on trial on charges of "treason" for having organized on 11 May a swearing-in ceremony, as "President". Besigye questions the election results that saw the reappointment of Museveni (see Fides 19/02/2016).
The Bishops, through a statement signed by His Exc. Mgr. John Baptist Odama, Archbishop of Gulu and President of the Episcopal Conference of Uganda, denounced the political use of justice (see Fides 15/06/2016). In the statement, published on June 15 at the end of the Bishops’ retreat in Nsaambya, near Kampala, denounce that "many people continue to live in fear of violence and therefore it is the responsibility of the new government to open dialogue".
The Bishops also recall the "senseless turn of the screw on human rights and fundamental freedoms, before, during and after the elections in February. 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". "We have to keep in mind, highlight the Bishops, that worldwide, the media is key and remains pivotal in enhancing democratic governance. 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 statement points out a few key points of the pastoral letter (see Fides 18/02/2016) published before the election: Restoration of presidential term limits in the Constitution; Building confidence among people regarding the credibility and independence of the Electoral Commission; Reasonable intervention of security agencies in the electoral process. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 17/06/2016)