Supreme Mufti distances himself from Muslim unity talks, Old Kampala shoots back

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PRO Kibuli-based Supreme Mufti's Office Dr Muhammad Kiggundu and other Muslim clerics addresing a press conference on Wednesday; Courtesy Photo

The Kibuli-based office of the Supreme Mufti has distanced itself from the unity talks between different Muslim factions in Uganda and president Yoweri Museveni-brokered deal to bring together several Muslim sects under one umbrella.

The new development follows a meeting between leaders from three Muslim factions in Uganda and president Yoweri Museveni at State House on Tuesday after which it was stated that all factions had agreed to work together.

In the meeting, the delegation led by the Mufti of Uganda Sheikh Rhamathan Mubajje, former Supreme Mufti Sheikh Suleiman Kasule Ndirangwa, and Sheikh Amir Kamoga told Museveni how they had signed an agreement to bury their differences and kickstart a process to have a single, elected leadership for Islam faith in Uganda.

In a press statement issued today, the Director communication research and International Relations, Dr Muhammad Kiggundu Musoke, distanced the Supreme Mufti’s office from the talks and the purported decision on unity but also disowned the Muslim clerics from Kibuli who attended yesterdays event at State House Entebbe as not part of the administration at Kibuli.

Dr Kiggundu said the clerics who went to State House cannot represent or speak on behalf of the Kibuli faction.

“We wish to inform the general public, Supreme Khadi’s and all our Muslim leadership structures countrywide that the Office of the Supreme Mufti was neither invited nor involved in the purported unity talks. We therefore, in the strongest terms possible refute the impression created that Sheikh Suleiman Kasule Ndirangwa, Sheikh Muhamood Ssebugwawo, Sheikh Obeid Kamulegeya and Sheikh Hamid Katerega have the mandate to represent or speak for the office of the Supreme Mufti” The statement reads in part.

In a video posted on Twitter after the State House meeting, [president Museveni is heard saying he is happy the factions had agreed to unite something that he has been pursuing for many years. His guests including Mufti of Uganda Rhamathan Mubajje, Suleiman Ndirangwa and Sheikh Amir Kamoga, all said they had agreed to move together.

Dr Kiggundu however says the Office of the Mufti is an independent legal entity with its own Constitution based on Quran and Sunnah to guide the actions and decisions associated with leadership and governance of Muslim Affairs in Uganda.

The Kibuli faction however says they are open to “genuine, honest and sincere” engagements leading to Muslim unity and quality service deliverly to the Muslim community.

Uganda Muslim Supreme Council reacts:

Following the response from Kibuli faction, leaders at Old Kampala-based Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) held a press conference and clarified that yesterday’s event resulted from nationwide demands from the Muslim fraternity who are tired of conflicts in the leadership and have been demanding for unity.

The PRO UMSC Hajji Rhamathan Mugalu says the conflicts were rooted in longstanding concerns including ownership of Muslim properties, Constitutional Review, elections for the leadership including the Mufti, and several others which are long overdue.

He says, yesterday’s event was a presentation of the progress report to the head of State which he strongly supported. Hajji Mugalu appealed to the Muslim fraternity to prepare for the changes and to participate in elections of the new leadership.

Mugalu said it is time to close the chapter of conflicts, abuses and hate speech in the Muslim fraternity and the process to unify the different sects will not force those who do not support the idea of unity.

He defended the representation of Kibuli by the former Mufti saying he has been part of the process ever since and has experience as well as huge potential in fostering the proposed unity of Muslim sects in Uganda. He said the process has the popular support even from prominent people who may not wish to come out publicly over the matter and no one will stop it.

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