President Kiir hopes the pope’s visit will bring peace to South Sudan
AUTHOR: Daniel Garang Deng | PUBLISHED: February 4, 2023
Salva Kiir received Pope Francis at Juba International Airport on Friday 3, February
President Salva Kiir has expressed optimism that the visit of Pope Francis to his country will help bring peace to the war-torn South Sudan.
The global catholic leader, His Holiness the pontiff, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the moderator of the Church of Scotland’s general assembly are on a peace pilgrimage in South Sudan.
“It’s my sincere hope that the ecumenical pilgrimage will help our push for peace and reconciliation to the Republic of South Sudan by the Holy Father Pope Francis, archbishop of Canterbury and the moderator of the general assembly of the church of Scotland,” Kiir said on Friday in state address upon receiving Pope.
Kiir said the historic visit has come at the right time when the country is struggling to implement the revitalized peace agreement.
President Kiir and his vice president Dr. Riak Machar signed the peace agreement in 2015 but failed to implement it, and it fell apart again in 2016.
The deal was again signed in September 2018 in the Sudanese Capital, Khartoum, a revitalized peace agreement brokered by the former Sudanese President, Omar Al Bashir, known as revitalized agreement on the resolution of the conflict in the Republic of South Sudan R-ARCSS. The slow implementation phase has been attributed to a need for more political will and funding.
“This historic visit of these prominent global Christian leaders must compel us to engage in deep thinking about our recent history, especially on how it relates to the noble task of peace consolidation and the important projects of reconciliation and forgiveness among our people.” said Kiir.
He noted the weight of demand from the citizens regarding the peace deal, the president assured the nation and the global world that he is committed to implementing the agreement with fellow principals.
“I am aware of the huge expectations regarding the implementation of this peace agreement,” said Kiir. He added that he knows not everyone is satisfied with the phase of the revitalized peace agreement implementation, but what is important is that the parties to the agreement are working together in the spirit of dialogue to overcome challenges.
Kiir said that he pledged not to allow the country to go to war again on several occasions. His Holiness Pope Francis has been praying and pleading with the transitional leaders to stay in peace since 2019. His visit to Juba is viewed as a commitment to what he started.
In 2019 a two-day spiritual retreat at the Vatican, Pope Francis kissed the feet of South Sudan’s leaders, begging them to live in peace. “I am asking you as a brother to stay in peace. I am asking you with my heart,” the old pontiff pleaded with the leaders after kissing the feet.