With Catholic mediation, South Sudan's rival leaders form coalition gov't

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With Catholic mediation, South Sudan's rival leaders form coalition gov't

By Munir Bayouk-en.abouna.org

On Saturday, February 22, 2020, South Sudan opened a new chapter in its fragile emergence from civil war as rival leaders formed a coalition government that many observers prayed would last this time around.

A day after President Salva Kiir dissolved the previous government, opposition leader Riek Machar was sworn in as his deputy, an arrangement that twice collapsed in fighting during the conflict that killed nearly 400,000 people.

The world’s youngest nation slid into civil war in 2013, two years after winning a long-fought independence from Sudan, as supporters of Kiir and Machar clashed.

Intense international pressure followed the most recent peace deal in 2018. Pope Francis in a dramatic gesture kissed the feet of Kiir and Machar last year to coax them into putting differences aside.

Kiir announced a “painful” decision on the politically sensitive issue of the number of states, and Machar agreed to have Kiir take responsibility for his security. On Thursday, February 21, they announced they had agreed to form a government meant to lead to elections in three years’ time — the first vote since independence.

Hugs and applause followed Machar's swearing-in who thanked Pope Francis and others, and vowed to South Sudanese to work together “to end your suffering.”

POPE FRANCIS' TIRELESS EFFORTS FOR PEACE
The South Sudanese rival leaders credit Pope Francis' tireless efforts and prayers for peace in making a joint-declaration happen that was mediated by the Saint Egidio Community in Rome.

During the meeting with the leaders of the warring parties in the Vatican on April 11, 2019, Pope Francis said,"To the three of you who signed the Peace Agreement, I ask you, as a brother, remain in peace. I ask you from the heart. Let us move forward. There will be many problems, but don’t be afraid, go forward, resolve the problems”. In impromptu remarks following his address, Pope Francis said, “You have started a process; may it end well. Although struggles will arise, he said, these should stay “within the office”. However in public, he said, “before the people: [keep your] hands united”. In this way, the Pope said, “from simple citizens, you will become Fathers of the Nation”.

ROLE PLAYED BY CATHOLIC SANT’EGIDIO MOVEMENT IN PEACE ATTAINMENT
Sant'Egidio, present during these days with a delegation in South Sudan, welcomed the agreement between President, Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar that opened the way to the formation of a government of national unity, long awaited. Sant’Egidio believes that it is an encouragement to continue with even more conviction the role of mediator, carried out for some time now by the Community to achieve peace in South Sudan, after painful years of civil war.

Indeed, it was at Sant'Egidio, that, thanks to the mediation of the Community, the "Rome Declaration" was signed on 13 January. It was signed also by opposition groups that had remained outside the Addis Ababa agreements of 2017, and brought together for the first time all the political parts of the country.

Negotiation will continue in the coming weeks on governance and the root causes of the conflict; the next round will take place in March and will be dedicated to the meeting between the military chiefs who will have to make operational the decisions taken on the ceasefire. In order to encourage the next meetings between the parties, which will take place in Rome again, a delegation from the Community of Sant'Egidio has been present in Juba these days.

WILL POPE FRANCIS FULFILL HIS WISH AND VIIST South Sudan?
Pope Francis announced in November 2019 that he intends to visit South Sudan in 2020. An upcoming visit by Pope Francis to South Sudan will definitely enroot peace and security in the nascent state of South Sudan.

Pope Francis had earlier confirmed his hope and desire “that soon, by God’s grace”, he would be able to visit South Sudan, together with the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

The Pope prayed and pleaded with Lord Jesus asking Him “to touch with the power of the Spirit the depths of every human heart, so that enemies will be open to dialogue, adversaries will join hands and peoples will meet in harmony. May the whole-hearted search for peace resolve disputes, may love conquer hatred and may revenge be disarmed by forgiveness.”

Sat, 02/22/2020 - 20:01
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