About 600 religious leaders gathered at Hotel Africana in Kampala, on 18th August, to launch the Central Uganda Peace and Stability Forum; which also concluded the regional transformation forums.
The Peace and Stability Forum for Northern Uganda was launched in Gulu, on 28th July, Eastern Uganda’s forum was launched in Mbale on 4th August, and that for Western Uganda was launched on 12th August, 2015, in Mbarara.
According to the Secretary General of the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU), Mr. Joshua Kitakule, the main purpose of the forum is to act as an impartial and independent space to facilitate internal dialogue and consensus building at the regional levels.
“The forum will use the gravitas of religious leadership, through promoting integrity, impartiality, transparency, listening, collaboration and inclusivity; before, during and after the 2016 elections,” Mr. Kitakule said.
He also said the forums will liaise with other organizations and individuals to promote transparency, peace and respect of human rights within their respective regions, and also facilitate dialogue and Consensus building between various stakeholders.
According to Mr. Kitakule, the forums are expected to initiate and arrange mediation meetings between political parties or candidates, support the establishment of Peace and Justice Forums at sub regional and district levels, sensitize the public through mass media on peace, tolerance, and peaceful co-existence and reconciliation, observe elections in hotspots throughout the region and strengthening violence preventive strategies.
“As Uganda prepares for the forthcoming elections, many people are looking up to Religious Leaders to stand in the gap and provide hope, guidance and transform conflicts that may arise from political competitions into peace,” he said.
It is believed that religion is a strong unifying force in society, and the presence and prominence of Religious Leaders in the country puts them in a unique position to positively influence people’s lives and socio-political processes such as elections.
As a result, the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU), set up the Peace and Stability Forum to coordinate religious leaders’ efforts for peace during the forthcoming elections. Its establishment falls within the mandate of Religious Leaders to play a role in fostering peace and reconciliation in Uganda.