Leaders of Ugandan church intertwined with politics

Those strange bedfellows – Anglican leaders and their counterparts in the Kampala statehouse – are stirring up trouble in Uganda. Again.

Speaking at a funeral, The Rev. Esau Omara, provost to Boroboro Cathedral in the Lira district of Uganda’s Lango region, this week denounced anyone against the Lango Cultural Foundation (and therefore presumably Lango’s 134 clans) as being worthy of death by stoning. That’s deliberately biblically-oriented speech, of course, that not only touches on the issue of homosexuality, but also toughens up his December claim that pols voting no on Uganda’s kill-the-gays bill would lose their jobs.

On about Christmas Eve, meanwhile, Secretary General Chris Opoka of the Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC was the dominant force in Ugandan politics until Idi Amin came to power in 1971), announced his party’s intention to defeat the bill, saying,

What two consenting adults do, the state has no business… absolutely! It is discriminatory. Me, I don’t understand this idea of “African values.” Was Muwanga not a homosexual, the Kabaka 1? Eh? Was he not a homosexual? No! Let’s stop this nonsense!

So perhaps the bill isn’t a fait accompli. At any rate, tensions are running high, and so is the irony. You might think Omara would know, for example, that the Lango Cultural Foundation applied to the USAID-funded Northern Uganda Peace Initiative in 2006 for “support through capacity building programs on reconciliation.” Or that the Rome Statute-mandated Trust Fund for Victims lists the LCF as an intermediary implementation partner that’s charged with tasks such as providing for the victims of sexual crimes.

In February 2008, an independent panel found Anglican leaders in Lango had acted in an overly partisan way after they told their congregants not to vote for UPC candidate John Odit in 2011. Odit (who was later sacked for his investigation of the mishandling of funds in Temangalo province) had apparently stood in the way of the construction of Uganda’s St. Simon Barowo Church.

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