March 30, 2010

Stop wasting money on guns, say African faith leaders

by David Masters

Religious leaders in Africa have jointly called on their governments to support proposals for a treaty against arms trading.

Christian, Hindu and Muslim leaders said the money African governments spend on weapons should be redirected to fund development.

Speaking after a peace and reconciliation conference this week in Kigali, the Rwandan capital, the leaders said a continent-wide agreement on arms trading would reduce the human cost associated with the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.

Their campaign is part of ArmsDown!, a worldwide interfaith coalition calling for for the abolition of nuclear weapons and an end to the proliferation and misuse of conventional weapons, including small arms, landmines, and cluster bombs.

The campaign also calls on governments to reduce military spending and redirect the money to help advance the UN Millennium Development Goals.

“When you manufacture guns, you have to find a market,” said Rwandan Anglican Archbishop Emmanuel Kolini.

“When you find a market, you cause trouble, you cause conflict, so it becomes an endless cycle.

“We shall never stop it until we say enough is enough of killing ourselves.”

Sheikh Shaban Mubaje, the Grand Mufti of Uganda, added that the money spent on arms would be better used to fund sustainable development.

“We welcome new initiatives for a reduction of expenditure on arms, which currently stands at US$1.34 trillion each year,” he said.

“Rather, redirect these funds to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.”

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