AFRICA GREAT LAKES: Taking the initiative from violent actors


19 February 2009
AFRICA GREAT LAKES:  Taking the initiative from violent actors

by Cliff Kindy

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) recently integrated rebels from the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) into the country’s military.  President Kabila also invited the Rwandan military to join an operation against militias of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).  Some FDLR combatants are considered responsible for the Rwandan genocide, and they control many of the mines in South and North Kivu Provinces.  Planners hope this operation stops the conflict engulfing eastern DRC for fifteen years.  But nonviolent activists are seeking to reframe the conflict, so that they, rather than violent actors, hold the initiative.

One such activist is Monsignor Jean-Luc Kuye, a Pentecostal pastor whom CPT met recently in Kinshasa, is president of the ecumenical Eglise du Christ de Congo in South Kivu.  In 1998, when Rwanda invaded the Congo, Msgr Kuye asked, “What will we do?  We are being recolonized.  How will we respond without more violence?”  Msgr Kuye provided leadership in a difficult political process, at each step of a fragile seven-year dance.  Facilitating national dialogue, creating the new constitution, and barely saving the signing of the Sun City Accords, this church leader worked for peace even though  opponents threatened his life.  His fear became a stimulus for creative nonviolent possibilities rather than an immobilizer.

As a church leader, Msgr Kuye assisted the transitional DRC government in 2003.  Later, in the national reconciliation process, Kuye received the assignment to talk with CNDP General Nkunda, and FDLR militias, to enable elections in 2006.  Kuye negotiated with the Council of Churches in Rwanda to smooth the return for demobilized FDLR and this year traveled to Rome to ask FDLR leadership to stop fighting.

Networks of nonviolent actors are replacing violent actors who had dominated the scene earlier.  Churches already provide the spiritual undergirding that  carries people through difficult peacemaking, and religious people across DRC are rebuilding the self-confidence of groups within civil society.  World Relief is working in conflict areas to unite denominations and tribes, building homes for widows, and visiting prisons and hospitals.  They have a “leading to see a church-led, grassroots, nonviolent movement in North Kivu.”  Norwegian Church Aid offered assistance to families re-establishing themselves in Rwanda.  Mennonites played a key role in 2006 election training and observing.  The Quaker Ebenezer Peace Center, Catholic Pax Christi, and  Anglican Bishop Isingoma are nurturing peace actors who insert nonviolent initiatives into this cauldron of conflict.  

If this comprehensive nonviolent initiative, led by churches, works, it will usurp the joint military operation.  The nonviolent campaign will define DRC history.  


Read More Stories

Dozens of people crowd toward the entrance of a checkpoint, waiting for Israeli military to open the gate.

Privilege of movement

Basic freedom of movement in Palestine—walking to the grocery store, driving to visit family, or flying internationally—depends on your nationality, race, and religion. As a Palestinian, you are denied these rights as others in your country move freely.

A person wearing a red CPT vest walks along a road with the apartheid wall to their right, covered in graffiti and towering over them.

Dear White Supremacist

CPT Palestine team members engaged in a friendly and introductory conversation with a white person, but it took an unexpected turn.

a graphic image with large bold text reading FREE MORIA 6

After the 2020 fire in Moria

Six young migrants are made scapegoats of a failed EU migration policy – Call for fair and transparent trial for the Moria 6 on 6 March 2023 in Lesvos! 

Skip to content