On Tuesday 10th November, the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU), The Elders’ Forum of Uganda (TEFU), and the National Consultative Forum (NCF), who have formed a joint effort for peace and stability, held a dialogue with Political leaders and the Electoral Commission, to discuss some of the salient issues and share emerging concerns during this electoral process.
The joint effort held two separate meetings with political leaders in the morning, and later with the Electoral Commission led by Eng. Dr. Badru Kiggundu, at the Kampala Serena Hotel.
Addressing the Political leaders in the morning, the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, who is also the acting Chair of the IRCU Council of Presidents, His Grace the Most Reverend, Stanley Ntagali, shared with the delegates a couple of issues instrumental to achieving peaceful elections and maintaining stability in the country.
Amongst the issues raised was the commercialization of politics and the use of bad language during elections. Archbishop Ntagali noted that the public display of money during elections and giving it out to voters, corrupts the judgment of voters, especially the poor, illiterate and most vulnerable in communities.
“The lack of transparency in political funding and use of unaccounted monies in elections leave behind a trail of inflation, corruption and dependency among citizenry,” Archbishop Ntagali said.
He also condemned the use of bad language saying it can reverse the pace for peace, reconciliation and stability. “We expect candidates to suggest development alternatives that will cause change in the lives of the people they aspire to serve,” Archbishop Ntagali added.
Addressing the team from the EC, the retired Archbishop of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, and Interim Chair of IRCU, Pr. Dr. John B. D. Kakembo, urged them to set minimum standards and qualifications that presiding officers and polling assistants must meet.
Pr. Kakembo noted that it is alleged that the recruitment process is biased to candidates with an inclination to the National Resistance Movement party.
“We therefore urge you to let the recruitment process be open and competitive, and consult members of all political parties,” he said.
According to Pr. Kakembo, there is still lack of voter education judging from the chaos witnessed during the NRM primaries. “We fear that the unsightly events we watched on our TV stations during the NRM primaries might spill into the general elections,” he said.
Pr. Kakembo urged the Electoral Commission to make use of prayer houses and mosques to deliver voter education to the electorate in a bid to promote peace and stability.
IRCU, TEFU and NCF also suggested the need to hold a national dialogue to solve the many emerging contentious governance issues that no single party in government or opposition can resolve. According to the joint effort, the dialogue should bring together all stakeholders irrespective of political or any other differences.
The joint effort also intends to initiate regional consultations across the country on issues that are likely to impact on peace and stability during, before and after the 2016 elections. The regional consultations are being coordinated by the Regional Peace and Stability Forums IRCU launched earlier this year.
These Fora will mobilize and organize Ugandans to work for peace and also strengthen early warning and rapid response capabilities especially in the electoral hot-spot areas.