From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 07:38:08


                 by Ecumenical News International 
GENEVA--The Presbyterian Church in Rwanda (PCR) has elected a new 
president, Andre Karamaga, to replace Michel Twagirayesu, who fled 
Rwanda during the genocide of about one million people last year. 
     Karamaga, the head of the All Africa Council of Churches' 
(AACC) theology and interfaith desk, has assumed the post of 
president for a two-year "crisis transitional period."  He was 
elected Feb. 3 at a meeting of 104 PCR leaders in Kigali, the 
capital of Rwanda. 
     Twagirayesu, a member of the central committee of the World 
Council of Churches (WCC), now lives at Bukavu, Zaire. 
     Karamaga faces a difficult task in rebuilding the PCR, which 
was decimated by the genocide and civil war.  Many of its pastors 
and their families were killed, hundreds of members died and 
thousands are now refugees.  Church buildings, schools and 
hospitals were badly damaged. 
     The carnage in Rwanda began after the country's president was 
killed in a suspicious plane crash last April 6.  Pro-government 
militia began to massacre opponents of the murdered president, most 
of them belonging to the minority Tutsi group, but also Hutus 
considered disloyal to the president and his political machine. 
     There have been claims that Twagirayesu was very close to the 
former Hutu-dominated regime in Rwanda.  However, Jose Chipenda, 
AACC general secretary, told ENI: "I have not met any leader of the 
calibre of Twagirayesu.  He is an outstanding leader." 
     Karamaga, 47, a Swiss-trained theologian, is "a very sound 
leader," according to Chipenda.  He served as a pastor in Rwanda 
and was then sent by the PCR to Switzerland to study and represent 
his church in Geneva's ecumenical circles. 
     Many of the churches in Rwanda face a major task of rebuilding 
after events of the past year. 
     Sam Isaac, a WCC official, said last year that the churches in 
Rwanda had been discredited by aligning themselves far too closely 
with the former Hutu-dominated regime.  He claimed that in 
conversations inside Rwanda, "the point was brought home to us that 
the church itself stands tainted, not by passive indifference, but 
by errors of commission as well." 
     Karamaga has met with Twagirayesu and discussed the situation.  
"We have both agreed that our first concern is the church.  When 
one member of the body suffers, all members suffer," Karamaga said. 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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