South Sudan worries about impact of Bashir's toppling

Pope Francis kneels before President Salva Kiir of South Sudan to kiss his shoes in an appeal for the continuation of peace between former warring factions in the African nation

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and former rebel leader Riek Machar signed a peace deal a year ago that calls on them to form a unity government on May 12.

After making the extraordinary gesture, the Pope told them: "I am asking you as a brother to stay in peace".

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

Francis' appeal was made even more pressing as anxiety grew in South Sudan that Thursday's coup in neighboring Sudan that toppled longtime President Omar al-Bashir might put at risk the fragile peace deal that ended South Sudan's brutal five-year civil war. There will be many problems but they will not overcome us.

"So we need to establish adequate security from the two forces so that our people can have confidence that this agreement will hold".

Pope Francis greets South Sudanese president Salva Kiir at the Vatican, April 11, 2019.

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"Sudan labored so hard to restore peace and stability and because of that we have the current prevailing peace agreement in South Sudan and it is a guarantor", Martin Elia Lomoro, South Sudan's Cabinet affairs minister, said in a meeting with worldwide cease-fire monitors.

"We have clearly heard the cry of the poor and the needy; it rises up to heaven, to the very heart of God our Father, who desires to grant them justice and peace", he said.

"Upon all the Christians of South Sudan who, in helping those in greatest need, bind up the wounds of Jesus' body, I implore God's abundant graces and assure them of a constant remembrance in my prayers", Pope Francis said.

The 82-year-old pope pleaded for peace in a striking gesture during a meeting with leaders from the troubled country that gained independence from neighbouring Sudan in 2011 and then was mired in a violent internal conflict.

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. Welby had proposed the idea of the retreat to the pope.

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

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