The five-day East African conference on inter-religious collaboration to strengthen peace and security in the EAC region concluded successfully in Kigali, Republic of Rwanda, with a resolution to create the first ever East African Community Inter-Religious Council (EAC IR Council) for sustainable dialogue and information sharing among and between religious leaders and communities in the Region.
At the opening of the Conference The Most Rev. Dr. Rwaje Onesphore, the Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Rwanda and Vice Chair of Rwanda Interfaith Council on Health stated that religious leadership have the potential to play a significant role in deepening peace by promoting the values that ensure peaceful co-existence and by playing active roles in facilitating dialogue and mediating in conflict situations. Rev. Dr. Onesphore said “It is truly gratifying to see leaders of all faiths from the EAC coming together to tackle common challenges facing the bloc. I have rarely seen such a diverse gathering and I can see in it a great opportunity to achieve a lot”.
These opening words were kept in mind during the following days of respectful and warm collaboration. In the end, the leaders of Inter-Religious Councils of Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda signed the “Kigali Declaration” to pursue justice, peace and security, also facilitating dialogue and shared vision in the face of the distortion of religious values and principles in the Region, among others. They also agreed on promoting education of the youth as well civic education and encouraging a focused attention on youth unemployment and advocacy in situations of discrimination, corruption, nepotism and maladministration.
The Declaration states “Accepting that religious leaders have a specific responsibility to model the behavior that contributes to peace and justice, we further commit to the values of inclusivity and respect for diversity, integrity, industriousness, fidelity to truth and equality”. Closing the well-attended conference, Rwanda’s Minister for Internal Security Hon. Sheikh Musa Fadhil Harelimana lauded the religious leaders for forming the regional inter-religious council, stressing that religious leaders have a special position and role in strengthening peace and security in the Region.
The signed resolution of the conference will be presented to the next Council and Summit for acknowledgement.