Watch Video of Pope Francis Kissing the legs of Rival South Sudan leaders to Persuade them to maintain peace (watch video)
Yesterday, Thursday, the 11th of April,2019, Pope Francis (after an unprecedented retreat at the Vatican), brought together South Sudanese rival leaders for 24 hours of prayer and preaching inside the pope’s residence in an attempt to heal bitter divisions between 2 South Sudan rival war leaders before the country (South Sudan) is due to set up a unity government next month after two years of civil war.
As a reminder, South Sudan fought for decades to achieve its independence in 2011. After South Sudan gained its independence in 2011, the two leaders of the two main armed groups which fought for the independence of South Sudan (Salva Kiir and Riek Machar) started fighting for power.
This was how the story unfolded…
After South Sudan gained her independence in 2011, Salva Kiir became the president of South Sudan while Riek Machar was made the vice president of South Sudan.
However, South Sudan plunged into civil war two years later (i.e. in 2013) after President Salva Kiir (from the Dinka Ethnic group), fired Riek Machar (from the Nuer ethnic group) from the vice presidency.
After Riek Machar (who also fought for the independence of South Sudan) was fired, he turned in to a rebel and commanded his pre-independence fighters to attack the ruling government or forces loyal to President Salva Kiir .
About 400,000 people died in the civil war in South Sudan and more than a third of the country’s 12 million people were displaced, sparking Africa’s worst refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
The civil war came to an end in September, 2018, after a power-sharing deal was signed ; in which the two main rival leaders of South Sudan, agreed to assemble, screen and train their respective forces to create a national army and form a unity government next month(June,2019).
Due to the aforementioned facts, Pope Francis had to invite all the rival leaders of South Sudan in order to persuade them to maintain peace in South Sudan.
During the meeting with the rival sudanese leaders at his residence, he appealed to President Salva Kiir, Riek Machar, and three other vice presidents of South Sudan, to respect an armistice they signed and commit to forming a unity government next month.
“I am asking you as a brother to stay in peace. I am asking you with my heart, let us go forward. There will be many problems but they will not overcome us. Resolve your problems,” Francis said in improvised remarks.
Pope Francis knelt to kiss the feet of rival South Sudan leaders as he urged them to not return to a civil war.
The leaders appeared to be stunned as the 82-year-old pope, who suffers from chronic leg pain, was helped by aides as he knelt with difficulty to kiss the shoes of the two main opposing leaders and several other people in the room.
Click on the links below to watch video…