With exactly 21 days left to the 2016 Uganda General Elections, the Chairman of the Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC) and the Archbishop of Gulu Archdiocese,
Most Rev. John Baptist Odama has urged the media to be proactive in addressing the issue of violence and ensuring peaceful elections on February 18 this year.
“We are caught in a very important state now in this country and you are more aware than me but I have my concerns so that we can work together. I have no idea how the election will be. Will it be free and fair? Will it be peaceful nobody knows but I’ am concerned about the state of this country because I wouldn’t like the country to be destabilized anymore and one of the cause is elections,” Archbishop Odama said.
He made the remarks at the Uganda Catholic Secretariat premises in Kampala on Wednesday 27th January 2016, during the Second Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Association of Catholic Communication Practitioners in Uganda (ACCPU) that was attended by journalists from various media houses in Uganda. He said the Catholic Bishops of Uganda will collaborate with the media through their Pastoral letter, which was released in August last year on the Guiding Principles of the 2016 General Elections in the endeavor to promote democracy and peace-building.
Through the watchdog role, he said the local media should protect the public interest and encourage free and fair peaceful conduct of the elections to achieve the long-term goal of democratic consolidation and human development.
“We had a terrible situation in the northern region for over 20 years and on that part I am so sensitive about the future of this country. If there is anybody who is a great patriotic I would be number two. Unless we are firm on what we want Uganda to be before, during and after the elections, we are likely to see some violence,” Archbishop Odama explained adding. “I think we should be proactive on this important matter because many people listen to the media. We love our country so let us be proactive in addressing the issue of violence.”
The Archbishop further stated that he has begun holding talks in his Archdiocese about the consequences of instigating violence before, during and after elections thus encouraged the journalists to do the same.
“I have been talking to the people in my Archdiocese from the urban areas to the villages and I have told them to go to their communities and pass the same message of peace. Whoever causes violence from the national level to the grassroots should be held accountable for any loss of lives, for any injuries and for any distractions. I am very hot on this issue and I am going to continue doing so to avoid violence,” he emphasized.
He quoted a line from Chinua Achebe’s book ‘Things Fall Apart,’ about the mosquito which always disturbed the ear with noise despite the fact that the ear had warned it. He urged the journalists to emulate the mosquito’s style to be proactive during this period.
Archbishop Odama applauded the ACCPU members upon forming the association and for their active participation in making the visit of the Pope a great success.
“It is our hope that the members of this association, who have met at the very important juncture, will contribute towards a free, fair and peaceful elections,” he concluded.
The AGM also attracted the Secretary General of the UEC, Msgr. John Baptist Kauta and the UEC Executive Secretary of the Social Communications Department, Rev. Fr. Philip Odii.
By Jacinta W. Odongo
Media Officer, Uganda Episcopal Conference