The National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC), has held a consultative meeting with the religious leaders in the country over unity and reconciliation at Hilltop Hotel Remera.
According to the vice president of the commission, Pastor Antoine Rutayisire, NURC is consulting different civil society groups to enhance the Unity and reconciliation culture.
During the Unity and Reconciliation Week that started November 17-23, NURC has been holding debates on reconciliation, visiting 1994 Rwanda Genocide survivors and mobilising civil society groups to adopt reconciliatory activities in their annual contracts.
The commission president, Jean Batiste Habyarimana, said that, the role of regions on reconciliation is paramount.
“We need your hand in building the culture of reconciliation,” he said, adding, “We can design the best policies but you’re the people, who implement and influence others to be a part of it.
Ambassador Mussie Hairu, the Regional Director of the United Religions Initiative (URI) for Africa and Guest of honour, said that he brought a greeting of peace from the religious organisation based in Ethiopia.
“My seeds of peace and reconciliation continue to grow on Rwanda ’s soil. My God’s rain of mercy and Allah’ sun of healing help these seeds to grow that they may bear good fruit and not only for Rwanda but for all this wounded and weary world,” read the massage sent by URI Executive Director, Reverend Canon Charles P. Gibbs.
In his own message, Hairu hailed clerics for fully acknowledging their role in ensuring lasting unity and reconciliation.
“Apart from the outstanding work by the NURC, I wish to acknowledge the religious leaders for knowing that there is no peace anywhere without peace in the church,” he said.
“The dynamic Government of RPF that stopped the genocide has done a lot to restore hope and togetherness,” he added.
He also disclosed that Rwandans’ efforts in fostering unity and reconciliation was a contributing factor in deciding that 2009 becomes an international year of unity and reconciliation.
“Peace is not merely absence of war, it’s a transition from hate to love, revenge to forgiveness, from darkness to light and it involves working together by sharing ideas,” Haila emphasised.
In a separate interview with The New Times, NURC Executive Secretary, Fatuma Ndangiza, said that reconciliation should be everyone’s responsibility, more especially religious leaders.
“Religious leaders help the commission in many ways like confession, forgiveness and repentance. So their role in unity is inevitable” Ndangiza underscored.
The legal representative of Pentecostal Association Churches in Rwanda, Reverend Samuel Usabwimana, pointed out that religious leaders should help the commission by being role models, avoiding divisionism and avoiding conflicts based on personal interests.
The religious leaders are expected to form an inter-faith organisation that will be a channel for their activities towards reconciliation.
“We have to be one and struggle for the common ground,” Sheikh Said Bakareke, the assistant Mufti of Rwanda said.
The religious leaders were expected to lay wreaths on the tombs of the 1994 Tutsi Genocide victims at Gisozi memorial Center later in the day.