Archbishop of Uganda Joins Religious Leaders for Joint Message to Nation on Eve of Elections


Fellow Ugandans,

We bring you greetings of love from the Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC).

We extend to you our best wishes on this occasion as we prepare to go to the polls on 23 February 2006, 28th February 2006, 6th March 2006 and 9th March 2006 to cast our votes for candidates of our choice that are contesting for various elective positions.  This is an important civic duty that must be cherished by all Ugandans and all people of goodwill.  The Constitution of Uganda 1995 underscores the need for free, regular and fair elections.  In our view, an election is free and fair if it is conducted substantially in conformity with the relevant laws and regulations.

This is the first General Election being conducted in Uganda in more than 25 years under a multiparty system.  We sincerely congratulate all Ugandans for embracing the spirit of diversity under a multiparty political dispensation.  A multiparty system gives everyone the opportunity to participate in developing appropriate policies and programmes for the development of the country.  Multipartism on the other hand raises challenges to the various Government Institutions.  It is particularly important that all Government institutions are sufficiently oriented to appreciate that their allegiance is to Uganda as a Nation as opposed to individuals or groups of people.

An election offers an opportunity for the Citizens to exercise their right to elect Leaders of their choice.  For this to happen, there must be a conducive environment for citizens to make choices without fear and undue influence.  Consequently, it is important for the state in the interest of free and fair elections to guarantee to every candidate, political party and voter the security they need to exercise their right and responsibility as citizens.

Also key to ensuring free and fair elections is the Electoral Commission and Judiciary.  It is particularly important for the Electoral Commission which is legally in charge of the electoral process in the whole country to act fairly, professionally, and independently.

We commend the Electoral Commission for having performed reasonably well in the face of daunting challenges and obviously very difficult circumstances.  The Commission has very difficult days ahead and will need stamina, courage and vigilance to fulfill its constitutional role.  In this, the Commission deserves the cooperation and support of all Ugandans.

We note with concern that the independence of the Judiciary has been under a severe test.  We would like to caution public officers and politicians that any attempt to undermine or compromise the independence of the Judiciary through unfounded accusations, threats, intimidation or other means represent an assault on the concept of separation of powers and by extension peace and stability in Uganda. We strongly commend those members of the Judiciary that have remained faithful to their oath of office and urge them to continue discharging their duties honourably without fear or favour, ill-will or affection.

We commend Ugandans in all parts of the country who have shown great maturity during the course of the campaigns.  We note the opportunity that the aspiring candidates have had to interact with the electorate during the campaigns.  This is good for democracy.

However, We note with disappointment that cases of intimidation and election violence appear to be on the rise after a fairly good beginning characterized by largely peaceful campaigns.  Many serious cases of violence involving gunmen wearing civilian attires have been reported by the media in various parts of the country.  Some of these violent incidences have resulted into the deaths of unarmed civilians.  We condemn all forms of intimidation and violence directed against Ugandans who are exercising their democratic rights.  We urge the youth in particular to abandon the spirit of militancy and reject all forms of manipulation.  They need to bear in mind that when the law catches up with them they will be held individually accountable for their violent act or unlawful conduct.

We extend our heartfelt condolences to all victims of violence including those who were killed when an alleged security operative wantonly and indiscriminately shot and killed people at Bulange in Kampala.  We call upon the architects of intimidation and violence to abandon their unholy scheme of driving a wedge among Ugandans.  We call upon the Police to act decisively to restore the confidence of the population which has been badly damaged by these acts of violence.  The state must ensure that the rule of law is vigorously upheld.  All perpetrators of threats, intimidation and violence and their sponsors and accomplices must be promptly brought to justice.

We appeal to all voters to seek for wisdom and the gift of discernment as they go to the polling stations on election day to vote for candidates of their choice.  We urge all voters to behave in an orderly manner befitting our national motto “For God and My Country.”

It is important to note that in every election there is bound to be winners and losers.  We would therefore like to appeal to every candidate to approach this election with an open mind and a readiness to win or lose.  We appeal to those who will win to be magnanimous towards those who will have lost.  This is because we need each other for the development of mother Uganda.

We appeal to those who will lose and have legitimate grievances to seek redress through courts of law rather than resorting to disruptive and unlawful means to express their discontent.  That is what democracy is all about.

Blessed are the peacemakers (Mat. 5.9).

God bless Uganda!

His Eminence, Metropolitan Jonah Lwanga
Chairperson, UJCC/Archbishop of the Orthodox Church

His Eminence, Emmanuel Cardinal Wamala
Co-Chairperson, UJCC/Archbishop of Kampala Archdiocese

His Grace, the Most Rev. Henry Luke Orombi
Co-Chairperson, UJCC/Archbishop of the Church of Uganda