Archbishop in Uganda Decries Political Unrest, Calls for Restraint, Peace

Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga of Uganda's Kampala Archdiocese.

The Archbishop of Uganda’s Kampala Archdiocese has decried the political unrest in the East African nation, calling for restraint and the cultivation of “a peaceful relationship with God our creator.”

Triggered by the arrest of two opposition candidates on November 18, at least 45 people has lost their lives as a result of the unrest that erupted in various Ugandan cities.

Speaking on Monday, November 23 during the Requiem Mass of one of his Priests, Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga called on all Ugandans to shun violence and foster peace.

“It is very sad that peace has somehow diminished in Uganda because of the political unrest that has taken shape of late. We should aim at having a peaceful relationship with God our creator,” Archbishop Lwanga said while addressing mourners at St. Mary’s Lubaga Cathedral of Kampala Archdiocese.

He added, “Let us always remember that God wants nothing from us but peace and all of us should strive to have that peace but not violence. Peace should be right from within our hearts.”

Chaos erupted in various cities in the landlocked country on November 18

Following the November 18 arrest of the main opposition candidate in Uganda’s January 2021 presidential elections, Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu popularly known by his stage name, Bobi Wine and the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) Party candidate, Patrick Oboi Amuriat, a section of their supporters took to the streets to vent their anger.

Uganda’s security officers have been accused of using excessive force in handling the protesters, with reports indicating that they fired live bullets at the demonstrators and onlookers, causing the dozens of deaths.

The 38-year-old Bobi Wine who is vying on National Unity Platform (NUP) ticket was arrested in Luuka District, Eastern Uganda, as he campaigned for the January 14 election, while Amuriat was arrested in Gulu in Northern Uganda.

"Wherever you intend to fire bullets or hurl teargas canisters, ask yourself if it suits the motto, 'For God and My Country’,” Archbishop Lwanga said November 23 addressing himself to Uganda’s security officers.

The unrest attracted the attention of religious leaders in the country who condemned the arrest of the two presidential candidates, calling on the security officers “to uphold the Ugandan Constitution.”

“We are deeply concerned about the violent events that occurred in our country yesterday where the whole world witnessed brutal arrests of political candidates; Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi and Hon. Amuriat Oboi,” members of the Inter Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU) said in a November 19 statement.

The IRCU members who include a representative of the Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC) had in August, expressed their concerns about unequal access to the media and police brutality as the country prepares for the January 2021 elections. 

“We are witnessing a lack of equal access to the media and the police discriminately dispersing crowds and political contenders. There is a lack of consistency and clarity by the Electoral Commission on elections,” IRCU members said in their August 13 statement.

Ahead of the 2021 polls, the religious leaders have organized presidential debates that are expected to bring together the candidates vying for the presidency, among them the incumbent, 76-year-old Yoweri Kaguta Museveni who has been in power since 1986, and his main challenger, Bobi Wine who is a Catholic.

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