DR Congo: church leaders deliver peace messages to presidents

 GENEVA - A delegation of church leaders from Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo has set out to meet the presidents of the latter two countries to convey them a strong message in favour of peace.

The five-strong ecumenical delegation gathered yesterday in the Congolese capital Kinshasa, where they expected to meet with President Joseph Kabila before travelling in the coming weeks to Kigali to meet the Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

"The aim is to transmit them a message of peace," said Rev.Dr André Karamaga, the World Council of Churches (WCC) programme executive for Africa and general secretary-elect of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC).

The initiative was taken at a meeting of church leaders from the Great Lakes region convened by the AACC in Nairobi, Kenya, on 22-23 October. On that occasion, some 12 church leaders from Burundi, Rwanda and DR Congo decided that the heads of state and the rebel leader Laurent Nkunda should hear a clear message: "People are tired and want an end to the war," and "dialogue costs much less than armed confrontation".

The group of church leaders is led by the Anglican Archbishop of Burundi Bernard Ntahoturi. He chairs the Council of Churches of Burundi and the Great Lakes Ecumenical Forum and is a member of the WCC Central Committee. Also a member of the group is the Anglican Bishop of Rwanda Onesphore Rwaje, who is the president of the Protestant Council of Rwanda. Mbari Kioni, AACC director of Advocacy, Research and Communication is accompanying the team.

The Congolese members of the delegation are: Bishop Dieudonné Mbaya Tshiakany, moderator of the National Synod of the Church of Christ in Congo and president of the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches of Great Lakes and Horn of Africa (FECCLAHA); Bishop Jean-Luc Kuye-Ndondo wa Mulemera, president of the Church of Christ in Congo in South Kivu and a member of the senate; and Rev. Dr Kakule Molo, president of the Baptist Community in Central Africa, based ineastern Congo, and a member of parliament.

Churches in DR Congo are working to alleviate the humanitarian crisis. While many aid groups work to assist those in camps for displaced people, local members of Action by Churches Together (ACT) International are striving to help the largely "invisible" displaced families.

Source: CISA

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