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AANA BULLETIN No. 31/03 August 11 2003(a)
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Tue, 12 Aug 2003 17:29:57 -0700
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AANA BULLETIN No. 31/03 August 11 2003(a)
AANA Bulletin Bulletin APTA
Editor -Elly Wamari Editor - Silvie Alemba
Cleric Criticises External Involvement In Peace Process
KINSHASA/NAIROBI (AANA) August 11 - Bishop Dr. Joseph Onema Fama of the
United Methodist Church in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has urged
churches in the country to get more involved in peace and reconciliation
The Methodist clergyman observed that recent political developments in the
country that led to the formation of a transitional Government inaugurated
on July 17, has given hope to the Congolese people.
In the new political structure, incumbent President, Joseph Kabila, has
been maintained as president. Four vice-presidents were appointed to
represent various interest groups.
They are Azarias Ruberwa from the Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD-Goma),
Jean-Pierre Bemba of Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC), and
Abdoulaye Ndombasi and Arthur Z'ahidi Ngoma, representing the Government
and political opposition parties respectively.
"I can see light towards this direction, though with some fogginess, hence
the need for us, as clergymen, to continue to pray and work hard for the
totality of peace and reconciliation in the country," Bishop Onema stated
during an exclusive interview with AANA on August 4.
The bishop, a vice-president of the All Africa Conference of Churches
(AACC), representing Central African region, is of the opinion that both
local churches and Congolese community in general should play a wider role
in the institution of peace in the country.
"While the role of external institutions is equally central in the seeking
of true peace and reconciliation, contributions of local communities should
not be down-played," stressed the Congolese clergyman.
"I have always doubted the actual role of external people when it comes
to the issue of peace and reconciliation of our country," he added, and
posed: "How do you account for people who come in as peacekeepers but end
up as plunderers of our natural resources, such as minerals?"
Bishop Onema, who is also the vice-president of the World Methodist Council
for Africa region, continued: "There have been some instances where some of
the countries that have generously donated peace keepers to us, have ended
up having huge amounts of minerals, while they do not have those mineral
deposits on their land. Such countries would include Uganda, Rwanda and
The bishop expressed concern that too much weight was being given to the
external involvement on issues of peace and reconciliation at the expense
of local participation. "This, I strongly feel, should be reversed. The
local contribution of the Congolese people, churches included, should be
given an upper hand," he stressed.
He disclosed that the Church in DRC was currently encouraging its leaders
to engage in politics. "For some time, we have abandoned [politics], but we
are now back to it. We are encouraging our clergymen to get involved with
aims of bringing positive political change in the country," he said.
Reported by Osman Njuguna
Church Leaders Implore Exiled Liberians To Advocate Peace
ACCRA (AANA) August 11 - In hard-fought efforts to bring peace to their
war-torn country, Liberian church representatives on August 3 used their
stature as moral leaders to bring together members of Liberian civil
society, political factions and religious groups to find ways for
The watchword of the consultations involving Liberians in exile in Ghana
was, National Unity: Putting the Interests of Liberia Ahead of Factional,
Political and Ethnic Loyalties.
"Liberia should be in the forefront of our thinking," said John G. Innis,
the Resident Bishop of the United Methodist Church in Liberia, and acting
president of the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC). "We have lost the
values of love, accountability and togetherness," he noted.
The Very Rev. Prof Kwesi A. Dickson, president of the All Africa Conference
of Churches (AACC), added: "The country must come first." Disunity, he
warned, would lead to a situation of "total dehumanisation".
The consultation, co-sponsored by LCC, AACC, Church World Service (CWS) and
the Fellowship of Christian Councils and Churches in West Africa (FECCIWA),
was held at the premises of the Christian Council of Ghana. It brought
together more than 50 participants, representing a range of groups that
have been working for peace in Liberia.
The meeting provided a rare opportunity for leaders of the Liberian exiled
community in Ghana to come together and find common ground.
Participants noted that achieving political stability and eventual peace in
Liberia would not be easy. While some wanted the eventual political
process within Liberia to accelerate as quickly as possible, others
underlined the initial need for a stabilised humanitarian environment.
"Peace cannot be established when they are still fighting," said the Rev
Priscilla Jaiah of the United Methodist Church and a member of one of
several women-led peace groups at the consultation.
Willie Belleh, an opposition political leader, said there was
understandable "impatience" about the current crisis, particularly by
Liberians, who were eager to return home.
But, he said, "the implicit suggestion" that the selection of a new
president would somehow guarantee peace was wrong-headed. "You can't talk
about electing a president when there is still a war," he argued, pointing
out: "The search for peace is a slow, tedious process."
There are at least 24 Liberians said to be considering running for
president once elections can be held.
The consultation followed two days of meetings, in which LCC and CWS held
separate discussions with representatives of the Liberian Government and
the rebel factions, to lobby for peace.
The warring parties have been meeting in Accra, the capital of Ghana, for
Bishop Innis pressed each of the groups to quickly sign a peace accord and
end fighting. "God is holding us responsible," Innis told members of the
main rebel group, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD),
at an August 1 meeting.
Ivan DeKam, the leader of a CWS assessment team working with LCC
representatives to co-ordinate the next phase of humanitarian assistance,
told LURD members that "what happens from now on is more important than
what happened yesterday. Remembering the past is important but to be guided
by past injustices is a hard road."
By the end of last week, there was still no peace agreement between warring
groups in Liberia, and tension was high in the capital, Monrovia.
A contingent of peacekeepers had just arrived in the country, and President
Charles Taylor had intimated that he would hand over power to his deputy,
Moses Blah, on August 11, but did not specify when he would leave the
country as expected of him.
Reported by Chris Herlinger
Church World Service/Action by Churches Together
UN To Deploy Peace Keepers In Somalia After Conference
NARIOBI (AANA) August 11 - The United Nations (UN) plans to deploy a
peacekeeping force in Somalia as soon as the proposed new Government is
installed after conclusion of the on-going Somali National Reconciliation
Conference here, UN Special Envoy for Somalia, Mr Winston Tubman told a
press conference on August 1.
Tubman, who had joined Ambassador Bethuel Kiplagat at the press conference,
said security would be paramount "when the current peace and reconciliation
process for the politically-troubled Somali yields its intended fruits".
Ambassador Kiplagat is Kenya's Special Envoy for Somalia peace process.
Tubman noted: "At this juncture we shall be at hand to deploy peacekeepers
as part and our contribution towards this long journey."
Ambassador Kiplagat would not say how long this process was likely to
take, but noted, "We have done pretty well", and added: "As per now, we are
in the process of reviewing the draft document on the proposed Charter,
after which we shall move to the third leg of the process, involving
Answering a question, Ambassador Kiplagat said the reported cases of some
people "pulling" out of the current peace and reconciliation process will
not derail talks.
He was alluding to some reports that the leader of the Transitional
National Government (TNG) of Somalia, Abdiqassim Salad Hassan, had pulled
out of the negotiations.
In a statement issued on July 29, the TNG had raised some complaints
against Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which is
playing the mediation role at the peace talks.
"With or without some people, the process must continue. The regional
Governments of IGAD, the UN, the Arab League, the friends of IGAD as well
as the Somali community in general, are committed to seeing it through,
hence we do not intend to either derail, delay or stop," observed
A delegate from Puntland, Awad Ashara, told AANA after the press
conference, "Let everybody who cares about the political problem of our
country get on board. The issue of pulling out of the process will not hold
water, not at this juncture".
Reported by Osman Njuguna
Church Of Nigeria Condemns Gay Bishop's Confirmation
ABUJA (AANA) August 11 - Following the confirmation of Rev Canon V. Gene
Robinson as the first openly gay bishop, Anglican Archbishop of Nigeria,
Most Rev Peter Akinola, has expressed sadness and disappointment that the
Episcopal Church of the United States (ECUSA) "could conspire to turn their
back on the clear teaching of the Bible on the matter of human sexuality".
In a statement issued from the Primate's office in Abuja, the spiritual
leader of 17 million Anglicans in Nigeria, said the time of testing had
proved that some had openly deviated from the "historic faith once
delivered to the saints".
"Our position on this matter is already well known. We have taken this
position prayerfully, being aware of the pain this will bring to all who
understand the price some have had to pay to preserve the faith of our
fathers," he said.
Last month, the Church of Nigeria led conservative Anglicans world-wide in
denouncing the election of Rev Jeffrey John as the Assistant Bishop of
Reading Diocese in England, threatening it would pull out of the communion.
Rev John later stepped down to avert a looming break-up of the 77
million-strong Anglican communion.
Archbishop Akinola said following the new development, his Church was
consulting with other Provinces and Primates on the way forward. He however
expressed solidarity with those in ECUSA who "refused to succumb to the
pressure for compromise", saying: "We shall remain in communion with them."
By AANA Correspondent
Controversial English Primate Concludes Visit To Africa
NAIROBI (AANA) August 11 - The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams,
concluded his first official visit to Africa by calling for "unity in
"The work of the Holy Spirit in us is to help in all our diversity and
uniqueness, to see the Christ in each other," he said during a Mass in
Freetown, Sierra Leone.
The Archbishop was speaking in apparent reference to the debate on human
sexuality that has rocked the Anglican community.
Dr Williams' pastoral visit to West Africa, which ended early last week,
took him to Ghana, Sierra Leone and the Gambia.
While in Sierra Leone, he spoke strongly against slavery, saying the world
is still not free of slavery patterns.
"There is the slavery of poverty, the slavery of injustice, the slavery of
greed, the slavery caused by HIV/AIDS, and the slavery of violence, which
causes bitterness and revenge unless delivered by truth and reconciliation.
We must go on identifying and overcoming every kind of slavery we encounter
in our society," he stated.
At a visit to an Anglican centre in Gambia assisting displaced people and
refugees from Liberia, the Archbishop promised to take up the cause of the
displaced people as he listened to touching testimonies from sobbing men,
women and children.
"I promise these concerns will not be forgotten," he said. Archbishop
Williams praised the diocese of Gambia for practically showing the love of
Christ to a hurting world.
The Archbishop also held talks with the Gambian President Dr Alhaji Yahya
Jammeh. The President paid tribute to the work of the Anglican Church in
Gambia, with special reference to the diocesan bishop, the Rt Rev Dr Tilewa
Dr Williams was accompanied by his wife Jane, the Archbishop of the
Province of West Africa, the Most Rev Robert Okine and officials from the
Anglican Communion Office in London.
Reported by Justus Waimiri
LWF Re-Ignites Calls For Third World Debt Cancellation
WINNIPEG (AANA) August 11 - The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has asked
International financial institutions to acknowledge that part of the debt
given to developing countries is illegitimate and odious.
"The debt is the responsibility of the creditors and has to be cancelled,"
the LWF Tenth Assembly said in a public statement here on July 30.
The Assembly, which took place from July 21 to 31, noted that the debt
burden had increased, and was a major barrier against poverty eradication
and fulfilment of basic human rights for all.
In the statement, LWF noted that the present financial external debt could
only be understood if seen in relation to the historic exploitation of
colonialism, pointing out: "External debt has in fact become a modern tool
Said LWF: "Moreover, research has shown that substantial parts of the
external debts of countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the
Caribbean are illegitimate. Loans were freely offered to illegitimate and
undemocratic governments, which then contracted these loans."
The statement continued: "In many cases, the contracted debt was misused or
diverted, both by illegitimate and legitimate governments. Only a minor
part has been actually used for social development."
By LWF Assembly Press Team
Culprits Of Church Arson Are Still At Large, Protest Clerics
NAIROBI (AANA) August 11 - The Church in Kenya has called on Kenyan
authorities to investigate a June incident, in which five churches were
reported to have been burnt down in Bura in the coastal region, near the
sea port city of Mombasa.
At a recent press conference here, 12 clergymen representing Kenya Church,
a federation of churches in Kenya, observed: "On June 13, a section of
residents of Tana River district, led by a certain Sheikh Khalif Mutiso,
destroyed and burnt five churches in Bura town."
The clergymen complained that whereas the area Provincial Commissioner (PC)
had promised to act on the matter, nothing had been done one month later.
"We wish to state categorically that we are extremely unhappy with this
trend of events. Over the last several years, our churches have been burnt
in various places and yet it appears that the Government is either afraid
or unwilling to arrest the culprits," they said in a statement.
"We are afraid that if this trend of events is allowed to continue, it
can only breed feelings of animosity with our brothers and sisters of the
Islamic faith," they continued.
But in a telephone interview with AANA on July 30, two weeks after their
outcry, the chairman of Kenya Church Taskforce, Pastor David Oginde, said:
"There seems to be good news coming out of our public outcry. We have met
the Minister in charge of Internal Security, Dr Chris Murungaru, who
promised to look into the mater."
Pastor Oginde also revealed that the area PC had finally made some moves to
redress the issue. "We were reliably informed that he called a public
meeting in Bura.... a day after we saw the minister, and warned those
behind the heinous acts that the long hand of the Government will not spare
them," he stated.
Approached for confirmation, a source within the Ministry of Internal
Security, said: "The issue is definitely being addressed, though no arrests
have been made on the alleged Sheikh Khalif Mutiso, who led others into the
torching of the said churches".
An official of the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM), would not
reveal much on the matter.
Speaking to AANA on condition of anonymity, the official said: "First, I
read the issue in the local press. Secondly, I have not yet heard of the
arrest of this said Khalif Mutiso, and thirdly, I am yet to get convinced
that anybody, and Muslims for that matter, would want to fight his fellow
Christian or burn the Holy places of God for religious differences."
He added: "But I cannot rule out other human differences, such as tribal,
that could have effectively resulted into this ugly incident."
Reported by Osman Njuguna
Namibia Wants Suspects Extradited From Botswana
WINDHOEK/GABORONE (AANA) August 11 - Namibian Government has intensified
bid to extradite 13 Namibians from Botswana, to stand trial on charges of
high treason, following a failed 1999 bid to secede Caprivi Region, a
barren strip of land in north-eastern Namibia.
The country's acting Prosecutor, General John Walters, and a member of his
office arrived in Gaborone last week for talks with Botswana's Office of
the Attorney General in an effort to get the legal process in Botswana's
courts moving again, after an almost seven-month break.
In December last year, a High Court in Lobatse in the south of Botswana,
ruled in favour of an appeal by 13 Caprivans against a court order that
they be extradited to Namibia to stand trial.
The 13, Alfred Likunga Kakena, Chris Samuel Mushanana, Jones Brownson
Kache, Francis Kavetu Karufu, Puteho Obbicious Matengu, Dunbar Tumisa
Muswena, Ivan Masole Kakena, David Nalisa Mumbone, Richard Musapali
Sithali, Samulandela Kennedy Ntelamo, Mutoiwa George Kabuko, Thaddeus
Muzamai and Claasen John Kawana, are being held at secret locations in
Since December, an intended appeal by the Namibian Government against the
ruling had remained in limbo, with no date fixed for the High Court to hear
an application for leave to appeal the judgement.
Botswana's High Court Judge R R. Horn had ruled that the 13 exiled
Namibians should not be extradited to Namibia. He said the charges were
mostly for offences of a political nature, for which one could not be
extradited under Botswana's Extradition Act.
Walters revealed that another 122 Caprivans accused of similar charges are
in custody in Namibia, pending trial on October 27.
Reported by Rodrick Mukumbira
Regional Christian Councils Meet To Discuss Peace Building
NAIROBI (AANA) August 11 - The Fellowship of Christian Council and Churches
in the Great Lakes Region and Horn of Africa (FECCLAHA) held a three-day
regional ecumenical workshop to review participation of various churches
within the region, on matters concerning conflict resolution.
The workshop, dubbed Forum on Sustaining Visions of Peace: Challenges of
Post-War Peace building, was held here from July 23 to 25.
It brought representatives of national councils of churches in the region,
who presented overviews of situations in their respective countries.
Amy Gopp, a consultant with the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) on
issues pertaining to Decade to Overcome Violence (2001-2010), told AANA
that the workshop aimed at finding out how churches were responding to the
challenges of post war peace-building.
Bishop Jean Nduwayo of the National Council of Churches of Burundi shocked
participants when he revealed that about 20 percent of Burundians were
either refugees or internally displaced.
He noted that to normalise the situation, the Church was involved in
fostering peace through pulpit preaching, and through radio programmes. He
said the Church was also engaged on the demobilisation of armed groups.
The Democratic Republic of Congo, which has been in conflict situation for
five years, with about 3.5 million people having died in the war, gave a
horrifying presentation, stating how some warring groups engaged in acts of
The DRC representative told participants that until recently, there were
four factions in the country, each with its own flag. The recent hoisting
of one flag was thus, noted as a positive sign.
Eritrea, which is yet to have her own national Christian council, was said
to be working towards sustainable peace with Ethiopia, with reconciliation
as the major task of the Church.
The report on Ethiopia stated that the Church was trying to train
Christians in peace and civic education, and had to date trained 2,500
women, organised 22 peace committees at the grassroots level, and four
inter-religious peace councils.
Reporting about Sierra Leone, the Director of Ecumenical Relations Council
of Churches of Sierra Leone, Mr Sahr Kemoore Salia, pointed out that the
most daunting task for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on communal
healing in the country was that not everyone would be able to tell their
He noted that the challenge was therefore on the Church to encourage truth
telling at grassroots level.
The Sierra Leone Council of Churches monitored the Truth and
Reconciliation, and was keen on establishing the traditional mechanisms for
healing process so as to embrace the same methods.
Mr Salia said that the true peace healing will actually begin when the
truth and reconciliation commission finally ends its mission, and the
Church was the only organ that could respond to this need.
Other countries whose national church councils were represented were Kenya,
whose council is celebrating 90 years of existence; Sudan by the New Sudan
Council of Churches, whose delegates were all women and have been
instrumental on people-to-people talks in Southern Sudan peace making;
Rwanda, and Uganda.
Reported by Joseph K'Amolo
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