Kiir promised not to “return the country to war”, despite peace agreement implementation difficulties.
President Salva Kiir has stated that he will not “return the country to war.”
He stated that, despite the obstacles that are slowing the implementation of the 2018 peace agreement, he will steer South Sudan toward permanent peace and stability.
The President made the remarks on Thursday in Juba, during a mass presided over by His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, who is visiting South Sudan on behalf of Pope Francis.
“I have said many times that I do not want to return the people of South Sudan to war, and I will keep my word to keep South Sudan peaceful,” Kiir said at the Dr. John Garang Mausoleum.
During a two-day spiritual retreat at the Vatican in April 2019, Pope Francis kissed the feet of President Kiir, Dr. Riek Machar, Rebecca Nyandeng, and Taban Deng, asking the leaders to “stay in peace [and] go forward.”
“We want you [Cardinal Parolin] to take back to the Holy Father the message that the people who came here as fighters in South Sudan are sitting together harmoniously,” Kiir said.
President Kiir also acknowledged that the peace agreement is being implemented with difficulty.
“If the Holy Father asks you about the implementation of the peace agreement, tell him that it is being implemented, but with difficulties, because this type of agreement has never been made in any country in our region,” he said.
South Sudanese leaders have struggled to complete important tasks such as putting the country on a democratic and development path since the signing of the revitalized peace agreement in 2018. Several provisions of the agreement have yet to be implemented, despite the fact that its term is set to expire in 6 months.
Crucial reforms envisioned in the agreement have yet to be implemented. They include, among other things, institutional reforms, the adoption of a permanent constitution, the graduation of unified forces, and the funding of reparation and reconciliation bodies.
“We have agreed to put it into action.” “If I had not been for peace, I would not have taken it since there is no government in Africa with five Vice Presidents,” Kiir told Cardinal Parolin.
Cardinal Parolin arrived in Juba on Tuesday and spoke separately with President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar. He read them the Pope’s message of reconciliation, peace, and prosperity in order to bolster South Sudan’s shaky peace process.
“The Holy Father said there will always be difficulties,” Cardinal Parolin said, “but we must move forward and solve them with goodwill in order to achieve unity, peace, and reconciliation.” “If there is no peace, there is no possibility of a country developing; there will always be new conflict and new violence.”
The visit was carried out in the Pope’s absence by the Vatican Secretary of State until July 8, 2022.
Pope Francis has postponed his Apostolic Journey to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo “due to severe knee pain and at the request of his doctors.”
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