Government has urged Acholi religious leaders to focus on repairing the “broken church” instead of telling it how to run the state, Chimp Corps report.
The remarks come against the backdrop of Acholi Religious Leaders’ statement on Wednesday, saying they had observed “with deep concern the tense and volatile atmosphere that has been created by the planned amendment” to Article 102 (b) of the 1995 Constitution.
Led by Bishop John Baptist Odama, the organisation which brings together Muslims and Christian leaders in Northern Uganda to “promote reconciliation and peace building initiatives,” said the leaders were the “voice of the voiceless and the conscience of the nation.”
The organisation said President Museveni should retire at the age of 75 years in accordance with the Constitution and that any attempts to use violent means to amend the Constitution commits the offence of treason.
“This means the deployment of the military police and the army, using teargas and all possible intimidation to effect the Amendment of the Article 102(b) is violent and tantamount to treason,” said Odama.
But Government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo said the church has a lot to do than focusing on politics.
“On the amendments, let them cite specific provisions and parliamentary procedures breached instead of talking in generalities,” said Opondo in an exclusive interview with ChimpReports on Thursday morning.
“Acholi religious leaders won’t tell or dictate to us how to run politics and government. Let them repair the broken church first,” he added.
But the church leaders said in their statement that “our role is to advise the citizens of Uganda to stand on the basis of truth in this matter, since the Bible teaches that whoever has the truth and courage, is a majority.”
Asked if church leaders had no role to play in ensuring the country realised good governance, Opondo responded: “They do but don’t have any superior roles above those of other Ugandan, and more so the elected leaders.”
Security forces recently dragged suspended lawmakers from Parliament after defying orders to vacate the House by Speaker Rebecca Kadaga.
The MPs were accused of insubordination and misconduct, sparking violent scenes in the Parliament Chambers.
Interestingly, the Acholi religious leaders said Article 3 Sub Article 4 of the Constitution empowers “citizens of Uganda to resist any person from unlawful overthrow of the Constitution,” adding, “This means that demonstrating in protest of the Amendment of the Article 102 (b) is lawful under the Constitution of Uganda since it is done to protect a Constitutional provision.”
On his part, Opondo said, “rather than speak in generalities let them cite specific constitutional provisions, laws or parliamentary procedures that have been breached, ignored or broken for them to make the conclusions they have made in their document.”
Critics say amending the Constitution is a ploy by government officials to extend President Museveni’s hold onto power by allowing him to contest after clocking the mandatory 75 years.
But supporters of President Museveni say the age limit provision is discriminatory and that most advanced democracies all over the world don’t have age restrictions for presidents.
Opondo said Acholi religious leaders are free to hold those views, “but as the constitution stands a president who clocks 75 while in office completes his or her term.”