Sudan's upheaval shakes South Sudan's hopes for peace

Sergio Conner
April 14, 2019

Pope Francis called Thursday on the warring South Sudanese factions to respect the latest armistice after a two-day Vatican retreat aimed at shoring up the fragile peace. In 2018, they signed a peace agreement in Ethiopia, and they are now attempting to form a stable government together.

"We have refugees who will not return if they don't feel secure, we have IDPs (internally displaced people) in the capital and in other major cities who will not go back to their homes which they have left five and a half years ago because of security problems", he said.

"There will be struggles, disagreements among you but keep them within you, inside the office, so to speak", Francis added during the meeting.

"People are wearied, exhausted by past conflicts, remember that with war, all is lost".

"Peace is the fundamental condition for ensuring the rights of each individual and the integral development of an entire people". "Tears were flowing from my eyes", she said. "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. The pope's gesture came hours after the military in neighboring Sudan ousted President Omar al-Bashir after 30 years of authoritarian rule, according to the paper.

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Closing his prepared remarks with a prayer, he asked God "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".

Sudan, which is predominantly Muslim, and the mainly Christian south fought for decades before South Sudan became independent in 2011.

"Peace is possible", the pope told the leaders.

The Holy Father encouraged the South Sudanese leaders to "seek what unites you, beginning with the fact that you belong to one and the same people, and to overcome all that divides you".

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