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CHURCH-To politicians, remember Pope’s kiss

Pope Francis kiss to President Kiir as Dr Machar and Rebecca de Mabior watches

By James Atem Kuir   

The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in South Sudan, Bishop Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla yesterday in a passionate appeal pleaded with the Presidency to remember the humbling gesture of Pope Francis when he kissed their feet and tasked them with bringing total peace to the country.

The plea by the religious head comes amid growing uncertainty that has gripped the country following the deployment of heavily armed security forces in parts of the city, including around the residence of First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny on Sunday after the SPLM/A IO rejected an offer for the unification of the military leadership.

President Kiir on Monday however defended the deployment of troops – which had been condemned and described as ‘provocative’ by the SPLM/A-IO -as a normal routine meant to deter criminals who might want to hijack the tense political atmosphere after Dr. Machar’s group pulled out of peace monitoring bodies and security mechanisms citing alleged attacks on their position by the SSPDF, last week.

“I would like to remind all our leaders beginning with President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Dr Riek Machar that let them remember when the Holy Father kissed their feet. It was not to exalt them above all but it was to tell them that’s kiss your feet in order for you to bring peace to your people’ … the Holy Father told the two leaders that ‘go and bring peace to your own country, bring peace to your own people and that is what is important to remember,’” Bishop Ameyu told Juba Monitor.

Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church early this month announced his long-promised first visit to the country in July in the hope to solidify peace after the 86-year-old earlier attempts could not succeed due to security concerns.

BishopAmeyu appealed to President Kiir and  Dr. Machar and the rest of the political leaders to put their acts together and resolve the current political dispute saying it could discourage the pontiff from visiting the country in July.

“We religious leaders would like to seek an opportunity to meet President Kiir and Dr. Machar in order to talk to them about the importance of having peace, especially this time the holy father is planning to come to the country in July. If there are high tensions like this, it cannot be encouraging for the visit of the Holy Father,” the religious leader stressed.

The parties to Revitalized Peace Agreement which brought an end to the civil war in 2018, have been unable to resolve the deadlock oversharing of the responsibility of the Unified Command, a body that will be in charge of the national army to be made up of government and opposition forces.

The stalemate has slowed the implementation of the security arrangements that included security sector reforms and the graduation of the unified forces that had been in the training centers since2019. Bishop Ameyu called for forgiveness among the leaders of the various political parties in the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU)in order to overcome challenges hindering the implementation of the peace deal.

“There cannot be peace unless we forgive ourselves totally. Holding grudges is not always good, all human beings are sinners but at the end of the day, we need forgiveness from God. We should also forgive our brothers from the bottom of our hearts but the problem is that we sometimes reserve something in our hearts and so people return to hold on old grudges. These old grudges will never let us go ahead. I appeal to all South Sudanese that unless we leave grudges behind we will never share or appreciate any good thing our brother or sister do well,” he pleaded.

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