Succession wrangles have hit the Anglican Diocese of Kigezi with Christians divided over who takes over from Bishop George Katwesigye who is set to retire in March 2014.Succession wrangles have hit the Anglican Diocese of Kigezi with Christians divided over who takes over from Bishop George Katwesigye who is set to retire in March 2014.The process to choose Bishop Katwesigye’s successor starts in June this year, but divisions have already rocked the Diocese with a section of Christians accusing the bishop of fronting a priest from his Abasigi clan, Reverend George Bagamuhunda, to take over from him.The situation was worsened by the sacking of Reverend George Tumwine, the former Diocesan Secretary and the appointment of Reverend Amos Tweteise, a brother in-law of the bishop, as the Diocesan Treasurer.This has prompted a section of the clergy and Christians in the diocese to oppose the actions of the Bishop Katwesigye.Reverend George Tumwine is now the sub dean for St. Peter’s Cathedral in Kabale.The disagreement threatens to create a rift between the members of the laity, with those rallying behind the sitting bishop saying that those opposing him have caused confusion in the church.
The anti-Katwesigye group in turn says they are opposing the bishop’s attempt to influence the succession process. Led by Enock Kazooba, a member of the Church Synod, they are fronting Reverend Geofrey Byarugaba and Reverend Dr Birungi Byayesu to take over from Bishop Katwesigye.
The wrangles have so far resulted into protests at different churches including Kamuganguzi, Kabuga, Rushoroza and Kabale All Saints, with the Christians rejecting priests who are said to be siding with the Bishop.At Kabale All Saints Church, the Christian decided to throw the parish priest out of his residence and were stopped by police. Shortly after, a suspected arsonist attacked the residence of the priest but the fire was put out.Wrangles in Kigezi diocese are not new. In March 2011, a group of clergy and Christians led by Hilary Bindeeba demanded for the immediate resignation of Bishop George Katwesigye accusing him of sectarianism and nepotism. The Provincial Council of the Church of Uganda appointed the then Assistant Bishop of Kampala, Dr Zac Niringiye, to investigate the conflict and reconcile the warring parties.Dr. Ben Mayanja, a Christian at Kabale All Saints church claimed that Bishop is working to have Rev. Bagamuhunda replace him, a claim dismissed by the Diocesan Secretary; Rev. Obed Turihohabwe, who says that the leadership is working hard to have the standoff in different churches resolved.He attributed the confusion in the church to what he referred to as succession disputes in the church over who will replace Bishop Katwesigye who retires in March 2014.Turihohabwe says that the confusion is being caused by greedy Christians who have interests in who becomes the next Bishop.
He further revealed that the Bishop has got nothing to do with choosing who to replace him and asks Christians to be calm saying that the procedure through which a Bishop is chosen is a transparent.
Under the Church of Uganda Constitution, a diocesan synod, a top decision-making body in the diocese, recommends at least two names to the House of Bishops who constitute themselves into a college of electors to choose a new bishop.
The wrangles raise fears of a repeat of the Muhabura Diocese experience in 2001, when members of the laity rejected the election of Rev Canon David Sebuhinja to replace Bishop Shalita. They accused Bishop Shalita of influencing the process and at one moment they chased him out after needles were planted in his seat.The diocese remained without a bishop for five years, forcing Archbishop Luke Orombi to lead a delegation of 13 bishops to Kisoro in August 2006 to push for reconciliation