Junior Lands Minister, Persis Namuganza has scoffed at the recent remarks by religious leaders on the just concluded Arua by-election as ‘biased’.
While addressing Journalists at her office on Wednesday evening, the minister said that clerics have veered off from their pastoral work of preaching and praying for the country but are now making political statements which are even biased.
“I watched my friends in the Inter-Religious council faulting government on the recent clashes in the Arua by-election, condemning torture against politicians. However, they didn’t talk about people who pelted stones at the President’s convoy,” Ms Namuganza said.
The minister said that it is wrong for the religious leaders to only concentrate on the clashes instead of looking at the cause, which she alleged, was planned by the opposition.
“If religious leaders have resorted to investigating cases like they have promised to do so in Arua, then what will the security agencies do? It’s like they now abandoned their pastoral work and joined politics. Where is this country heading?” she asked.
She noted that whereas there is a right to multiparty dispensation in the country, the opposition must understand that the President is the Fountain of Honor hence he is supposed to be treated with the respect that he deserves.
Her remarks come hotly on the heels of the condemnation of torture by the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU).
This newspaper reported that the clerics said that the violence that took place in Arua doesn’t depict democracy.
Mufti Shaban Ramadhan Mubajje, the IRCU chairperson asked security forces to desist from the use of excessive force while controlling chaotic situations especially during the electioneering process.
“We therefore call upon the government whose major obligation is to protect the people and their property to ensure that the members of parliament, their supporters and other persons arrested during the Arua elections are treated with dignity in accordance with their rights and that they access justice through open courts of law,” he said.
Arua town was plunged into violence on August 13 during the final campaigns for the parliamentary by-elections. One person was shot dead and six others are still nursing injuries.
Legislators Robert Kyagulanyi, Gerald Karuhanga, Paul Mwiru and Kassiano Wadri Ezati are still battling treason charges and are expected to appear before Gulu Court on August 30.
Ms Namuganza noted that whereas she condemns the torture meted on Mr Kyagulanyi and his colleagues, they should stop indoctrinating the youth with toxic information against the government.
While responding to the minister’s accusations, Pastor Joseph Sserwadda, a co-chair of the IRCU council of presidents, said that the minister should first read their statement on Arua by-election before she starts faulting them.
“In our statement, we condemned torture against humanity, but we also condemned the act of those who pelted stones at the President’s convoy. This statement is on our website and the minister can check and read it,” he said on phone yesterday.
Efforts to speak to the IRCU Secretary General Joshua Kitakule, didn’t materialize as our repeated calls to his phone went unanswered.
However, the minister admitted that the youth have turned rowdy because of the infighting in the NRM party where some leaders aren’t doing enough to lobby for the youth yet government has many projects to empower them financially.
She said that government has rolled out programmes to empower all unemployed youth especially those living in slums.