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Besigye rejects talks led by clerics
Published on 20-08-2016 - at 03:03' by Daily Monitor

Opposition leader, Dr Kizza Besigye, yesterday rejected the prospect of religious leaders and elders to lead the proposed political dialogue between the Opposition and President Museveni’s ruling NRM party.

Opposition leader, Dr Kizza Besigye, yesterday rejected the prospect of religious leaders and elders to lead the proposed political dialogue between the Opposition and President Museveni’s ruling NRM party.

He also reiterated his previous position that there must be an agreed agenda on the national dialogue before it takes place.

Dr Besigye was addressing the media at his Kasangati home in Wakiso District following an announcement by the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda (IRCU)and the Elders Forum, to have a dialogue between the government and the Opposition, scheduled to start in Octobe.

Dr Besigye, said religious leaders can not be neutral arbiters and observers since they have a stake in any discussion about the country.

“In my interactions with them [religious leaders and elders], I appealed to them to take a position on what is happening in the country and therefore in the dialogue that is envisaged, I appeal to them to be an interested stakeholder. They must be seated on the table amongst other stakeholders. They can’t be a neutral party, organising and moderating and having no view in what is taking place on the table,” Dr Besigye said.

The Opposition leader and former presidential candidate also explained that matters of “justice, peace and national security” are not partisan that religious leaders and elders are obliged to play a neutral role.

“People who lead religious organisations in our country should be at the forefront of fighting injustice because all religions as we know them, their leaderships must be voices of their people,” Dr Besigye argued.

Dr Besigye said he had met the IRCU and Elders Forum team twice at his home and during his recent detention at Luzira prison.

Although he declared his commitment to dialogue, he said he did not reach any position with the team on the process of the talks.

He said he was “surprised” and “taken aback” to hear that the religious leaders and elders had started the process of dialogue and even set up a secretariat for that purpose.

“At no time have we agreed on a process in the terms that they indicated in their statement,” Dr Besigye said.

He said if the religious leaders and elders are keen to being part of the organisers of the dialogue, they have to engage with the four key issues including having a mutually agreed agenda, an agreement on who convenes and moderates the dialogue, who will be part of the dialogue and a clear understanding of how the decisions of the dialogue will be implemented.

“It is not something one wakes up and says I am going to organise this. It is not like the presidential debate where you invite candidates to come and debate. This is a far more complex, far more serious issue that a lot of ground work must be undertaken before dialogue takes place,” he said.

The religious leaders and elders early this year organised two historic presidential debates that brought together all candidates for the first time to debate ahead of the presidential election.

Since the February 18 general election, there have been several efforts led by different people to have political dialogue in the country to resolve or mitigate the animosity between the Opposition and the government.

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Dr Kizza Besigye addresses journalists during a press conference at his home in Kasangati in Wakiso District yesterday.

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