Congo: Taking the Initiative

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by
Cliff Kindy

Nonviolent
activists seek to reframe the conflict in the Democratic
Republic of Congo (DRC)
so that they, rather than violent actors, hold the initiative. 

One such activist is Monsignor Jean-Luc
Kuye, a Pentecostal pastor, president of the ecumenical Eglise du Christ de
Congo (Church of Christ of Congo) in South Kivu.  In 1998, when Rwanda invaded the Congo, Msgr.
Kuye said, “We are being re-colonized.  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 a
new constitution, and barely saving the signing of the Sun City Accords, this
church leader worked for peace even though opponents threatened his life. 

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 the National Congress for the Defence of
People’s (CNDP) General Nkunda, and the
Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (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 the DRC are rebuilding the self-confidence of groups within civil
society.  World Relief – which unites
denominations and tribes, building homes for widows, and visiting prisons and
hospitals – hopes 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 training and
observing for the 2006 election.  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 any
joint military operation.  Such a
nonviolent campaign could define DRC history. 

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