MPs decry 'marginalization' of Ugandan Muslims

Independent Muslim legislator Mariam Nalubega accused the president of "turning a deaf ear" to the Muslim community's grievances.

MPs decry 'marginalization' of Ugandan Muslims

World Bulletin / News Desk

Ugandan Muslim legislators have expressed dissatisfaction with President Yoweri Museveni for allegedly passing over Muslim candidates in recent top government appointments.

"On Friday, the president nominated six people as judges to various courts, but, surprisingly, none is a Muslim," Latif Ssebagala, chairman of the Muslim Parliamentary Caucus, told Anadolu Agency on Monday.

He recalled that, in May of last year, President Museveni appointed 28 judges, none of whom were Muslims.

Ssebagala has petitioned Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to halt the appointment process, alleging anti-Muslim bias.

He said the advertisement for the positions had run in the state-run New Vision newspaper, adding that a number of qualified Muslim lawyers had applied for the posts and been shortlisted.

According to Ssebagala, Muslim applicants were interviewed by the judicial service commission, which told the appointing authority that they had scored the required grades.

But no Muslim names were included in the final list submitted to parliament for approval.

"We consider this a deliberate attempt by the appointing authority to deny qualified Muslim lawyers the opportunity to serve on the bench," Ssebagala said.

Parliament Speaker Kadaga wrote to the president, forwarding complaints lodged by Muslim legislators.

President Museveni, for his part, pledged to "see what can be done."

Ultimately, however, nothing was done, and his appointments last week did not include any Muslims either.

MP Ssebagala said he had scrutinized the CVs of the six candidates now awaiting parliamentary approval.

"Their CVs match various CVs among [applicants from] the Muslim community who have attained that level," he said.

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Ssebagala insisted that the judiciary "is not the only area where Muslims are marginalized – it cuts across all public offices."

He cited the government's earlier failure to appoint a single Muslim to the National Citizenship and Immigration Board – before Speaker Kadaga intervened and a Muslim was finally appointed to the body.

Notably, parliament's Appointments Committee, too, does not include a single Muslim legislator among its 20 members.

Out of 380 MPs, meanwhile, only ten are Muslim.

Independent Muslim legislator Mariam Nalubega accused the president of "turning a deaf ear" to the Muslim community's grievances.

She cited the example of 20 permanent secretaries in various government ministries.

"We [Muslims] only have one: Asuman Lukwago in the Ministry of Health," she told AA. "Does this mean that we Muslims are very few? That we have zero percent of the communities in Uganda?"

According to a 2002 national census, Muslims constitute 12.1 percent of Uganda's overall population.

A new national census is slated to be conducted in August.

MP Nalubega called on Ugandan Muslims to fight for their rights, vowing to oppose the latest raft of nominations and appointments.

MP Ssebagala insisted that the days when Muslims were seen as third-class citizens were over.

"When we demand representation, not only in the judiciary but in other organs, we're not demanding favors or privileges," he said. "We're demanding our constitutional rights."

He questioned why President Museveni only appeared to remember the millions of Muslims loyal to his ruling National Resistance Movement when he was looking for votes.

"If he's finding it difficult to identify Muslims with credible qualifications," Ssebagala said, "we're ready to assist him."

Last Mod: 22 Ocak 2014, 13:07
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