African Church Consultation says War Must End

The head of the All African Conference of Churches (AACC) urged the international community and churches to take action against the ongoing violence in the Great Lakes Region of Africa, during a statement delivered on De. 9, 2004. In making his plea, the Rev. Dr. Mvume Dandala, the General Secretary of the AACC, gave a nine-point strategy to halt all hostilities, military action and war.

“The continued wars and conflicts he said, has continued to affect deeply the people of Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo,” he said, according to an AACC press release. People he said, continue to be killed and displaced in a way that has far reaching consequences in the region and the rest of Africa.

Dandala’s statement officially closed the joint church leaders’ Consultations on Peace Building and Reconciliation. In addition to the AACC, three other church bodies – the Fellowships of Christian Councils and Churches in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn of Africa (FECCLAHA), Eben-Ezer Ministry and Africa Evangelistic Enterprise (AEE) – helped

By the end of the two-day conference, the church leaders released a joint declaration on the conflicts.

“We the Church Leaders from the Great Lakes Region, from Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi meeting at the Methodist Guest House Nairobi - Kenya, on 8th and 9th December 2004, to deliberate on Peace Building and Reconciliation are alarmed by the possible military confrontation among the Countries in the Region. Indeed both Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are reported to have ordered their forces for possible war!” the statement read.

Earlier during the consultation, the churches recommended that the AACC and the FECCLAHA lead in the formation of a church-led ecumenical forum to end violence in the Great Lakes region.

Dandala also said churches must lead in the opposition to the was.

“Our people need peace and security and the right to life and not wars. We must, as people of Africa, stand together in opposing wars as the preferred options of resolving conflicts and misunderstanding,” he said, according to AACC.

Dandala also appealed to the governments of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to take faster action to restore dialogue, not war.

The following is the entire text of the Pastoral Statement of Concern on the Unfolding Events of Possible Military Confrontations in the Great Lakes Region:

We the Church Leaders from the Great Lakes Region, from Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi meeting at the Methodist Guest House Nairobi - Kenya, on 8th and 9th December 2004, to deliberate on Peace Building and Reconciliation are alarmed by the possible military confrontation among the Countries in the Region. Indeed both Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo are reported to have ordered their forces for possible war!

The Nairobi Consultations on Peace Building and Reconciliation, was jointly organized by the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC), Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in the Great Lakes and the Horn of Africa (FECCLAHA), EBEN-EZER Ministry and Africa Evangelistic Enterprise (AEE). Having reflected on a number of critical and some core causes of conflicts and wars in the Region such as:- - Economic Stagnation and Poverty, mistrust and suspicion between governments, violation of human rights, citizens marginalization from Political participation, illegal exploitation of natural resources, use of violence for conquering power, war crimes, trafficking of small arms and light weapons, negative armed groups among others - wish to express our deepest concerns and regrets on the reported re-newed possible armed conflicts between the Government of Rwanda and the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

We are deeply concerned that these re-newed military confrontations totally violates the spirit and principles of Dar-es-Salaam Declaration on Peace, Security, Democracy and Development on the Great Lakes which were agreed on and ratified by the Regions Heads of States during their First Summit of Heads of State and Government on 19th-20th November 2004.

Furthermore, these re-newed hostilities will directly and indirectly exacerbate the already worsened situations of millions of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons in the Region; currently living under intolerable situations in extremely poor conditions without adequate shelter, water and Food. Besides, millions of the most vulnerable, women and children have so far been killed with many more affected by HIV/AIDS.

We the Church Leaders, therefore, wish to urge all the parties to desist from further aggression and opt for dialogue as opposed to war.

1. To this end therefore, we wish to call on all the parties concerned, the Churches and the other Civil society Groups to reflect a new and re-think profoundly on some of the fundamental problems that have so far been identified as a way of providing a lasting and sustainable Peace in the Region.

2. Similarly, we wish to call on the Churches in the Region to stand in solidarity together and journey together in mobilizing citizens from Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo in particular, to focus fully on the pending Parliamentary and Presidential Elections. It is imperative that churches ensure that these governments create a conducive atmosphere for purposes of transparent and democratic elections that will meet the will of the citizens from these countries and the International Community.

3. Churches should as well take lead in the mobilization of Churches towards the creation of a Network for the facilitation of Solidarity among Churches

4. We, the Churches in the Region should pay great attention in the provision and strengthen our Information Channels and capacity for Information gathering, sharing and analysis.

5. The Churches in the Region should put in place strategic programmatic interventions on Peace Building and Reconciliation in the Region with possible linkages with other conflict areas in Africa.

6. We urge the Churches to think of new approaches to Peace Education and Curricular and Civic Education as well - particularly on voting and Human Rights Issues.

7. We recommend that the AACC take lead with other Regional Ecumenical Institutions such as FECCLAHA in the facilitation of the establishment of an inclusive Ecumenical Forum for the Great Lakes to basically deal with urgent Advocacy Networking and Information sharing among the Chief Actors on Great Lakes Regions.

8. We the churches, collectively undertake to develop new Vision on the Great Lakes as a way of reinforcing the Prophetic roles and voice of the Church in the Region during the transitional and post transitional periods.

9. We urge that Governments of the Great Lakes Region adopt Democracy and Good Governance as one of he ways of ensuring and entrenching sustainable Peace and Security on the Region.

10. We recommend that an expanded consultations on Peace and Peace Building be organised early next year as a follow up to the issued agreed on during this meeting.

For further information, please contact: Akinyi Lucy Ogot, All Africa
Conference of Churches Communications and Advocacy Office, Email:
infodesk@aacc-ceta.org; Tel: 254 - 20 - 4441483, 4441338/9 7 Fax: 254 - 20-
4443241, 4445835