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UEC Chairman calls on the media to be proactive to ensure peaceful 2016 general elections

Monday 1 February 2016, by SIGNIS

Kampala, Brussels, February 1st, 2016 (Jacinta W. Odongo/Uganda Episcopal Conference/Amecea/SIGNIS). With a few days left to the 2016 Uganda General Elections (18 February), 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.

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Most Rev. John Baptist Odama (right) during the AGM meeting

Archbishop Odama made these 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 that the Catholic Bishops of Uganda will collaborate with the media in the endeavor to promote democracy and peace-building, and will make use of their Pastoral Letter (which was released in August last year) as the guiding principles for the 2016 general elections,. The Pastoral Letter is entitled, “Free and Fair Elections: Our Common Mission to Consolidate Democratic Gains in Uganda.”

Through the watchdog role, he said the local media should protect the public interest and encourage free, fair and peaceful conduct of the elections to achieve the long-term goal of democratic consolidation and human development.

Odama added, “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, and he encouraged the journalists to do the same.

He quoted a line from Chinua Achebe’s book, ‘Things Fall Apart,’ about the mosquito which always disturbed the ear with noise to remind it that it was still alive, following the ear’s mockery of the mosquito that it was too weak to live long enough for marriage. He urged the journalists to emulate the mosquito’s style to be proactive and persistent in advocating for peace during this period.

Archbishop Odama applauded the ACCPU members for forming the association and for their active participation in making the visit of the Pope to Uganda 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 UEC Secretary General, Msgr. John Baptist Kauta and the UEC Executive Secretary of the Social Communications Department, Rev. Fr. Philip Odii who was re-elected as an ex-officio member.

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