UN Resident Coordinator & UNDP Resident Representative’s remarks at the national prayers for peaceful 2016 general elections

Oct 5, 2015

H.E, the President of the Republic of Uganda,
H.E, the Vice President,
The Rt. Hon. Speaker of Parliament,
The Rt. Hon. Prime Minister,
His Lordship the Chief Justice,
The Leader of Opposition in Parliament,
Hon. Ministers,
Heads of Various Political Parties,
Heads of Government Ministries Departments and Agencies,
Religious Leaders,
Members of the Elders Forum of Uganda and the National Consultative Forum,
Development Partners,
Traditional and Cultural Leaders present,
My Colleagues from the UN,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am truly honoured to join you in prayer for a peaceful and successful general election in 2016.

For many of us, prayer is an act, and manifestation of our Faith. It is the spiritual umbilical cord that connects us to our creator.

Prayer allows us to reflect, to seek answers, and find solace, forgiveness and reconciliation.

In times of uncertainty or strife, we can find peace, and also, make peace, through prayer. We can also seek protection for those in harm’s way.

Today, we are united for a common purpose – to pray for a peaceful general election – which is now only 4 months away.

As previous speakers have emphasized; let us not just pray for peace alone. Let us also seek to be instruments of peace and stability in this nation.

The founders of this country understood this, and inscribed the words, “For God and my Country”, on the National emblem to serve as a powerful reminder of the importance of service above self, and one that is accountable to a higher purpose.

The first stanza of the National Anthem, also stresses the shared values of freedom, liberty and unity – all of which are important tenets of democratic governance.

“Oh Uganda may God uphold thee, we lay our future in thy hand; united, free, for liberty, together we’ll always stand.”

Therefore , as the Country prepares to enter into the election season, the UN, is pleased to support the National Prayer for the 2016 Peaceful Election, as a means of strengthening preventive mechanisms to avert open conflict, especially electoral related violence, in the lead-up to, during and after the elections.

Like Faith, Peace is a common denominator for majority of Ugandans irrespective of political party and religious affiliations, gender, creed, ethnicity or education.

We have previously witnessed incidences of violence and other related conflicts - not only in Uganda but also elsewhere during elections. This has created apathy and disfranchised many citizens from exercising their right to participate in key electoral processes.

In some of this violence; our youth have repeatedly been used as instruments of violence rather than peace. In this election, we would like peace and tolerance to be the key message – and prayer can help remind us of our common humanity and prosperity as a nation standing together in harmony.

One of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals – Goal 16 - adopted at last week’s UN General Assembly which your excellency co-chaired, is on promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, (including) providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

We cannot therefore talk about development without peace.

We are confident that the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU), which brings together the main religious denominations – is well placed to promote peace and unity in the country.

This initiative is implemented in complementarity with other mediation and conflict resolution strategies led by the National Consultative Forum (NCF) that brings together political parties and The Elders Forum of Uganda (TEFU), which the UN is also supporting under the Peace Architecture for Conflict Transformation Framework.

The UN will remain a partner to the government of Uganda in building lasting peace and stability in the country through continuous efforts and collaboration in developing a Peacebuilding and Conflict Prevention arrangement, to nurture inclusive governance as identified in Uganda’s vision 2040.

As I conclude, I would like to thank the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda for organising this national prayer event. I would like also to extend my appreciation to all stakeholders, for contributing to the success of this event, as well as those who have joined us in this fellowship today.

Lastly but not least, I would like to thank you - Your Excellency, the President of the Republic of Uganda, Mr. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, for taking time out of your busy schedule to be with us here today for this prayer event. This is clear demonstration and commitment of your government in ensuring that we have a peaceful and violent free electoral period now and as we climax to the 2016 general elections.

On behalf of the UN family, I wish to pledge our continued support to the Government of Uganda to nurture lasting peace and stability in Uganda.

May God bless you, and keep you well.

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