Religious leaders: Uganda urgently needs national dialogue

2021 Elections Watch

The Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) has called for an immediate national dialogue, saying the political situation in the country demands urgent reconciliation.

In a farewell meeting with the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Hon. Betty Aol Ocan, the IRCU Chairperson and Grand Mufti of Uganda, Sheikh Shaban Ramadhan Mubajje, said there are pressing issues that warrant urgent dialogue.

“As the Covid-19 pandemic is subsiding, there is need to re-embark on the Uganda National Dialogue course; there is no doubt that the challenges and emerging issues that call for the dialogue are as compelling today as they were in the preceding an post-election periods,” he said.

Ms Ocan asked the religious leaders to spearhead national dialogue, saying there are pressing issues that need to be resolved and that the process should not be abandoned to politicians alone.

“Support resumption of meaningful national dialogue as you have indicated, and I emphasise meaningful because there are other processes that are ongoing but never yield much,” she said.

Her party, the Forum for Democratic Change, announced Monday it will boycott the Inter-Party Organisation for Dialogue (IPOD) summit to be chaired by President Yoweri Museveni, also ruling National Resistance Movement (NRM) party Chairperson, on Friday.

At a news briefing, party Spokesman MP Ibrahim Ssemujju (FDC, Kira Municipality), dismissed the process as a mere tea party that will yield nothing tangible.

Ocan told the religious leaders that key issues to be considered in the national dialogue is the alleged brutality of security forces, and electoral malpractices and irregularities.

“The death, teargas and brutality in the streets is not called for; the name is Independent Electoral Commission but its practice doesn’t show independence,” she said.

MP Emmanuel Ongiertho (FDC, Jonam) said political actors should approach national dialogue without arrogance if the process is to yield much.

“If this dialogue is supposed to be meaningful, we must accept that the current positions we hold, ma have to go for the sake of dialogue; It is therefore important that we approach dialogue without arrogance because with arrogance it is very difficult to listen and arrogance stops us from acknowledging that there can be alternatives to our thinking,” he said.

Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga, who heads the Orthodox Church in Uganda, said the country is running away from the truth.

“We cannot move as a nation when we do not recognise truth; we must begin the process of national dialogue systematically by first recognising the presence of truth,” he said.

Ocan was also accompanied by MPs Santa Alum (UPC, Oyam) and Betty Bamukwatsa (FDC, Rukungiri).

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