Kiir “trembled” when Pope Francis kissed his feet
Report by Hassan John
President, Salva Kiir Mayardit, of South Sudan recounting his experience at the Vatican last week at a retreat, said the meeting with Pope Francis was a “piercing experience.”
Coming from his experience at the Vatican retreat, Salva Kiir, in an Easter broadcast, said, South Sudan “is ready for a new spirit and the dawn of a new sense of national unity and no better way to express this than to create a government that brings all parties together,” and pleaded with his rivals to “hold the interest of our people above and beyond any personal fears, resentments, and or interests and deliver the peace they urgently need without delay and without any reservations. There is no honor in pursuing personal ambitions that go contrary to the popular demands of the people,” Kiir told his nation.
President Kiir, speaking on how he felt when Pope Francis kissed his feet said, “of course I trembled… Not only did I feel a sense of reverence for his holiness, I also strongly feel what happened in Vatican will have an indelible impact on the future of peace and stability in our beloved nation,” he stressed. “Pope Francis’ action was the greatest expression of humility, a true manifestation of our Lord’s mission of serving others,’ Kiir said.
“It was unprecedented for the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Moderator to get together to meditate and pray for our country,” Kiir added.
The President called on his adversary, Riek Machar, “to urgently return to Juba so that we can work together to expedite the process of forming the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity.”
Kiir acknowledged that “the government has a lot of challenges” arising from the signed peace agreement but said the opposition “should not be bogged down by trying to tick every box in order to move forward, we should keep our eyes on the price and that is the return of peace to our country. We should continue to dialogue, continue to make compromise and ensure that we make the ‘impossible, possible,” the President pleaded.
South Sudan has suffered devastating war that has crippled the young nation since its independence from Sudan in 2011. The power struggle between Salva Kiir and Reik Machar has killed over 400,000 people and created deep ethnic division in the predominantly Christian nation.
Christian leaders in South Sudan, commenting on the Pope’s intervention last week, said “the choice is in our hands; each one of us in South Sudan has the power to choose whether our children will (live) in war or peace,” the statement pointed out that “God’s advice to us … is, Choose life so that you and your descendants may live.”