Catholic bishops in South Sudan were continuing to underline the urgency of delivering peace on the ground even as arch-rivals signed a series of peace agreements aimed at ending a deadly conflict that has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions of people.
Amid repeated appeals for peace by Catholic bishops and other church leaders, President Salva Kiir, rebel leader Riek Machar, and other opposition groups signed the final agreement in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on September 12. The terms of the agreement will see Machar return to government as a vice-president. It has also opened the door for forgiveness and reconciliation after years of senseless war.
“Let us forgive ourselves and work together for the interest of the people of South Sudan,” said Michael Makuei, the Minister of Information, as the parties committed to the new pact, called the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (Re-ARCSS).
But the emerging question is whether it is dawn at last for the war-torn country.
Analysts view the pact as the best chance to end permanently a deadly conflict which has been unfolding in the world’s youngest nation since 2013.
“The people on the ground want the peace. Those [refugees] outside the country want to come back home. This is why we are saying any attempts to bring peace for our country are welcome,” said Catholic priest James Oyet Latansio, the general secretary of the South Sudan Council of Churches.
The clerics are aware that numerous agreements have been signed in the past, but broken soon after. In 2015, the parties signed on to a similar agreement, known as ARCSS, but it collapsed after just a few days.
Read more at Catholic World Report.