By Cornes Lubangakene and Priscillar Nyamahunge
RELIGIOUS leaders have been challenged not to give platforms to politicians seeking for electoral positions to speak in their places of worship or gatherings until the 2016 general elections are concluded.
The chairman of the committee of peace, justice and governance at the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) Archbishop John Baptist Odama said if allowed, it will promote divisionism in the church.
Odama, who is also the bishop of Gulu Archdiocese, was speaking at the launch of the regional peace and stability forum by IRCU for Acholi, Lango, Bunyoro and West Nile regions at Acholi Inn in Gulu.
The launch was done under the theme; ‘Working Together for Peace and Violence-Free 2016 General Elections’.
"We shall be promoting hatred, quarrels and insults among the members of the congregation that we lead. Because as you give opportunity to one candidate, the other would also want to talk and they will begin to insult each other yet you as the leader will not be able to control them. So don't give them a chance in our places of worship until elections are over," advised Odama.
He told the religious leaders to encourage political parties to engage more peacefully and promote democracy within themselves and at national level saying there is continuous bickering among the political parties which is worrying since it indicates lack of internal democracy that translates into national problems.
"As religious leaders we should maintain one unshakable voice, be impartial and avoid political partisanship. This will strengthen our advocacy agenda as we shall not be biased either in favour of the incumbent or opposition".
He added: "Of necessity, we should divorce ourselves from the company of those religious leaders who have chosen the path of political partisanship to work for what they say change".
Odama said the religious leaders should fulfill their responsibility of prevailing upon and engaging security agencies to see that these bodies are seen to be impartial and independent, and are committed to providing security for persons and property to all the citizens before, during and after elections.
IRCU secretary general Joshua Kitakule warned the religious leaders against dividing themselves over political candidates that they belong to a particular denomination saying the secretariat has received information to that effect which should stop.
"Our interest should be the common good as religious leaders but we should not allow our people to be bought with material gifts for their votes," Kitakule said.
He condemned politicians who take their campaigns to burial places saying that is dishonoring the peace of the dead which religious leaders should not allow.
During the meeting, the religious leaders called for mass civic education for the coming general elections, with women to be most targeted since they are the majority voters.
They called on the voters to choose leaders who have values not just because they have given them material gifts.
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Dont allow politicians in places of worship - Bishop Odama