Friday, 19 April, 2019

Ex South Sudan rebel leader doubt unity government

82-Year-Old Pope Kisses Feet Of Leaders For'Peace, Leaves Them Stunned Pope Francis kisses shoes of Sudanese leaders in plea for peace
Patty Aguilar | 14 April, 2019, 16:59

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and his former deputy turned rebel leader, Riek Machar are in Vatican City to meet Pope Francis in their attempt to return lasting peace in the world's youngest nation.

"I am asking you as a brother to stay in peace". There will be many problems but they will not overcome us.

"You have begun a process, may it end well", he said.

The pontiff who spoke in Italian - which was translated by an aide into English - added that "but in front of the people, hold hands united. So it is unlikely that we will form the government by the twelfth of May", he said.

After the retreat, the pope kissed the South Sudanese leaders' feet, saying: "Your people is awaiting your return to your country, the reconciliation of all its members, and a new era of peace and prosperity for all". Under the terms of a peace agreement signed in September, the vice presidents are to take office together on 12th May, sharing power and ending the armed conflict between clans and among communities.

"Sudan labored so hard to restore peace and stability and because of that we have the current prevailing peace agreement in South Sudan and it is a guarantor", Martin Elia Lomoro, South Sudan's Cabinet affairs minister, said in a meeting with global cease-fire monitors. "However, there will be little expectation that it will yield any real progress absent external pressure or an unforeseen change", Klem Ryan, former coordinator of the U.N. Security Council Panel of Experts for South Sudan, told Reuters.

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"I had never seen anything like that".

When South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in 2011 after years of war, the people were filled with hope, the pope said.

In his address earlier on Thursday, Francis said South Sudan's people were exhausted by war and the leaders had a duty to build their young nation in justice. "Tears were flowing from my eyes", she said.

"Peace is the first gift that the Lord brought us, and the first commitment that leaders of nations must pursue".

As leaders of a people, he said, those who govern will have to stand before God and give an account of their actions, especially what they did or didn't do for the poor and the marginalised.

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