File photo of Archbishop Janani Luwum

The Most Rev. Stanley Ntagali, Archbishop of Uganda, is calling on all Christians to observe the new Feb. 16 public holiday, in memory of the martyred Archbishop Janani Luwum, as a day of prayer for national elections.

Last year, during the first international commemoration of the life and martyrdom of Archbishop Janani Luwum, Ntagali asked President Yoweri Museveni to declare Feb. 16 a public holiday in Luwum’s honor.

This year’s ceremony will be in Mucwini as well as many other churches around the country. It will be the first time it has been celebrated on a public holiday and comes only two days before national elections. Archbishop Ntagali will preach and President Museveni has been invited as a guest of honor.

“Our theme is ‘Jesus our Peace,’” the archbishop said. “It is taken from Ephesians 2:14, which says, ‘For [Jesus] himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.’”

This election cycle has been especially vigorous and keenly followed by most Ugandans.

“I thank God that we have the opportunity two days before casting our ballot to slow down, pause, and remember the cause of ‘God and my country’ for which Archbishop Janani Luwum died,” the archbishop said. “We need this reminder of the bigger issues before us of harmony and truth, unity, and respect for one another, and a nonviolent and peaceful Uganda. This is what Archbishop Janani Luwum demonstrated in his life.”

Luwum was the third Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Boga-Zaire. In 1977, he was arrested on false charges by former President Idi Amin Dada. Later that day, he was shot and killed in an attempt to silence him and all the religious leaders who challenged Amin on a number of issues, especially calling on him repeatedly to respect the value of life.

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