END OF YEAR PEACE MESSAGE BY THE ACHOLI RELIGIOUS LEADERS PEACE INITIATIVE (ARLPI) 31ST DECEMBER 2006: VENUE AMURU DISTRICT
THEME: PEACE FOR ALL THROUGH DIALOGUE AND RECONCILITION.
Dear people of God, brothers and sisters
As we enter the 21st year of conflict in Northern Uganda particularly Acholi sub-region, we Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative would like tot pass this message of hope to all men and women of good will who, during the last 20 years have been struggling to build peace in our war tone region.
ACHOLI RELIGIOUS LEADERS PEACE INITIATIVE (ARLPI)
This is an interfaith organization which brings together religious leaders from Muslim and Christian (Anglican, Catholic and Orthodox) faith with their constituencies to participate effectively in transforming the violent conflict in Acholi sub-region with a vision to have a peaceful and a prosperous country where people strive to co-exist harmoniously and work to forge the spirit of national unity
Over the last few years we, the religious leaders came up with various themes for reflection emphasizing the importance of peace. In 2003 we had the theme ‘AMONG ALL PEACE FOR ALL”; in 2004 “PEACE DEPENDS ON YOU!’ and 2005 “PEACE IS THE DESIRED VALUE FOR ALL’. In all these messages, we made strong appeal to all peace loving men and women to work together in building peace in the region
THIS YEAR 2006, WE CHOSE “PEACE FOR ALL THROUGH DIALOGUE AND RECONCILIATION”. Our choice this theme was motivated by the fact that peace is not only gift from God but a moral obligation to every initiative used to end the northern conflict, we the religious leaders are convinced that dialogue and reconciliation are the most peaceful means to end the conflict that have eaten up the Acholi cultural values including human life.
On this note, we would wish to express our appreciation and gratitude to the Government of Uganda and Lords Resistance Army for accepting to embrace dialogue as the means to end this 20 years conflict. Further more acknowledge the government of Southern Sudan in particular President Salva Kir and Vice President Dr. Riek Marcher (Chief Mediator), the United Nations and International Community for their involnment and support in the talks. For sure the relative peace we have started to experience in Northern Uganda today is the fruits of dedicated efforts of some distinguished peace loving persons such as Jan Egelan the Under Secretary of Humanitarian Affairs among many.
It is our hope that the ongoing peace dialogue in Juba will yield a sustainable peace we have been praying and working for.
PEACE FOR ALL THROUGH DIALOGUE AND RECONCILIATION
Every effort to achieve peace must be rooted in love of God and love of neighbors. In his own words the Great Apostle St. Paul has this, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21). In the same epistle, he emphasized that “Repay no evil with evil’ rather, humanity should reconcile to overcome evil (Rom. 12:17).
The Qur’an also preaches love for humanity and desire for peace through forgiveness and harmony. In Ash-shura 42, Verse 43, it reads “And verily whoever shows patience and forgives that would truly be from things recommended by Alla (God).
Also in the reading of today, we are told about the importance of dialogue where the relationship is broken and the need for reconciliation when things go bad between two or more people.
In is in this context that we Religious Leaders of Acholi urge the conflicting parties and all men and women who desire peace to value and promote dialogue and reconciliation as the most peaceful means of settling conflict.
As we end this year 2006 and enter the New Year 2007, we hereby wish to express our condolence and solidarity to those who lost their God given lives to the 20 years conflict and pray to God too grant them eternal peace. For those of us who have lost our dear one and surviving under unimaginable conditions, we pray for God’s consolation and hope for peace by working for peace.
As messengers of God, we urge you not to lose faith in God our loving and caring father who has not abandoned us during this trying moment. We urge you to forgive and reconcile with one another inorder to live in harmony.
Allow me on behalf of ARLPI to join hand thanking God for the New District of Amuru. It’s our prayer and hope that this will unite you together for the sustainable peace and development in this newly born baby.
As we look forward to a peaceful end to the 20 year conflict and the time when the camp life will be dismantled, we urge you to be agents of peace through dialogue and reconciliation as opposed to revenge and hatred.
As peace talks progresses in Juba, we earnestly appeal to the Government and the International Community to come out with a comprehensive plan for resettlement and rehabilitation of the IDP community as they go back to their homes.
We would wish also to point out other challenges facing families and the community such as HIV/AIDS pandemic, poverty, land disputes, political and leadership differences. Our appeal is to those in authorities to use their wisdom correctly in addressing contentious issues at hand.
I want to conclude by thanking all of you for coming in large number to join us in a thank giving prayer for the blessing we receive this year 2006 and pray for his guidance, care and providence in the New Year 2007
It is our appeal to the LRA and the Government to embrace the spirit of dialogue and reconciliation as means tot sustainable peace.
May violence now leave way for dialogue and reconciliation and to all of you, let’s love one another, seek what unite and not what divides us.
We wish you peace and God’s blessing in the New Year 2007
+ John Baptist Odama, Archbishop of Gulu and Chairman-ARLPI
+ Al Haji Musa Kahlil, Acholi Khadi and Vice Chairman-ARLPI
+ Macleord Baker Ochola 11, Retired Bishop of Kitgum Diocese and Treasurer-ARLPI
+ Nelson Onono-Onweng, Bishop Diocese of Northern Uganda and Chairman Finance & Administration –ARLPI
+ Benjamin Ojwang, Bishop of Kitgum Diocese Member-ARLPI
+ Fr. Julius Orach Orthodox Church Member-ARLPI