The deployment of security forces inside the houses of prayer at Parliament has taken a new twist with the Archbishop of Kampala declining to officiate at the end of year mass of the Catholic community.
Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga was expected to lead mass on Wednesday but he was a no-show. Dr. Lwanga who was expected to lead the mass and also light a Christmas tree stayed away citing the Tuesday invasion of the Catholic chapel making the sacred place unholy, hence unworthy for use in worship.
This came just a day after it emerged that men and women in police uniform had secretly deployed in Parliament on Monday, hours before the House commenced the debate on the Constitutional amendment bill that sought to remove presidential age limits. Dirty plates and cups as well as used mineral water bottles were on Tuesday found in both the the Catholic and Anglican chaplaincies. MPs, especially from the opposition side protested what they called the desecration of the houses of prayer, forcing Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to adjourn the House briefly.
This was after the Amuru Woman MP Lucy Akello who also doubles as the lay leader of the parliamentary Catholic community, raised the matter on the floor of parliament.
Angry legislators confiscated cups and plates from the officers, saying that the presence of soldiers, and the serving of meals in the chapels, was disrespectful. The chapels, located in the basement of Parliament building are accessed through a new entrance to the East wing adjacent to the National Theatre.
The Dozens of plates that were confiscated from the soldiers and officers, who were about to enjoy their meal, were tabled before parliament chaired by Speaker Kadaga. She later directed the Clerk to Parliament Jane Kibirige to investigate the matter and report back to the House.
Archbishop Kizito Lwanga directed that the Catholic Chapel should not be used for worship until it is consecrated again – a process of spiritual cleansing.
According to sources, the Chaplain of the Catholic Chapel at Parliament, Reverend Father Phillip Balikuddembe, who delivered regrets from Dr. Lwanga, explained that the Kampala Archdiocese was to arrange a consecration ceremony which will be conducted by a diocesan priest.
Fr. Balikudembe is also reported to have assured the faithful who had gathered in anticipation of the arrival of Dr. Lwanga that much as he is uncertain of the date of consecration, he is certain that it will come to pass.
Parliament late on Wednesday passed the controversial bill paving way for the amendment of Article 102(b) which caps the presidential age at between 35 and 75 years. In a twist, the House also agreed to reinstate presidential term limits which had been removed in a 2005 constitutional amendment. The term of office is also to be extended from five years to seven years.