The peace Monitoring body, R-JMEC, has called upon the parties to the peace agreement to receive the visit of peace pilgrimage with renewed political will and genuine commitment towards the implementation of the peace deal.
Pope Francis will start the Apostolic Journey to Democratic Republic of Congo and proceed to South Sudan, accompanied by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the moderator of the general assembly of the Church of Scotland on 3rd – 5th of February 2023.
While in Juba to consolidate peace efforts in the war torn country, the three religious leaders will hold a meeting with the president and his deputies, civil society representatives, church leaders, and 2,000 representatives of the internally displaced persons.
The pilgrims will also hold an ecumenical prayer service for peace at Dr. John Garang Mausoleum, which will be attended by the general public.
The chair of the peace monitoring body says the Ecumenical Peace Pilgrimage to Juba of the three religious leaders, led by His Holiness, Pope Francis, is an indication of the world’s desire for lasting peace in South Sudan.
“These solidarity visits are timely, and they enhance our peace efforts, as they coincide with the third anniversary of the establishment of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (RTGoNU),” said Maj Gen Charles Tai Gituai, interim chairperson of the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation commission (RJMEC).
“I urge the leadership of the RTGoNU, the parties, and the people of South Sudan to renew their confidence in the peace process, rebuild trust, and demonstrate genuine political will and unity of purpose, with the spirit of forgiveness and magnanimity, as we forge ahead at this critical time of the implementation of the peace agreement, towards the end of the Transition Period as stipulated in the Roadmap,” he added.
The head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, Nicholas Haysom, also believes that the papal visit bears the world’s desire to see South Sudanese live in peace.
“I want to welcome the eminent visit of His Holiness Pope Francis, which is as meaningful as any of the world’s intent and the international community to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of South Sudan,” Haysom asserted.
Pope Francis has been praying and pleading with the transitional leaders to stay in peace since 2019 and his visit to Juba is viewed as a commitment to what he started.
During a two-day spiritual retreat at the Vatican in 2019, 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 the kissing of feet.