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

14 April 2019

POPE Francis knelt to kiss the feet of South Sudan's previously warring leaders as he urged them to stay on the path to peace in a dramatic gesture at the Vatican.

According to DailyMail, the Pope encouraged the rival leaders, President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar to strengthen the country's peace process.

"May the Merciful God touch the heart of every man and every woman in South Sudan, fill them with his grace and blessings, and bring forth rich fruits of lasting peace, even as the waters of the Nile, flowing through your country, bring life and abundant growth", Pope Francis said. "There will be many problems, but do not be afraid", he told the leaders, speaking without a text at the end of the meeting. "But in front of the people, hold hands united". It remains to be seen whether his ouster will imperil the peace deal.

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"Peace is the fundamental condition for ensuring the rights of each individual and the integral development of an entire people".

Several ceasefire agreements and peace pacts have failed to end the fighting, which has led to the death of an estimated 380,000 people, uprooted a third of the population, forced almost two-and-a-half million into exile and triggered bouts of deadly starvation.

Sudanese demonstrators chant slogans as they protest against the army's announcement that President Omar al-Bashir would be replaced by a military-led transitional council, in Khartoum, Sudan April 11, 2019.

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Sudan, a largely Muslim nation, granted the largely Christian south its independence in 2011 after decades of scorched-earth fighting.

Leaders od the war-torn North-eastern African country were invited to the Pope's residence at the Vatican for a special retreat amidst a 24-hour prayer to pave way for a peaceful formation of unity government which is just a month ahead.

The retreat was the idea of Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, who attended the final part of the gathering.

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