Pope Francis Causes A Stir For Kissing Salva Kiir’s Feet

Pope Francis kneels to kiss the feet

Pope Francis kneels to kiss the feet

The dramatic gesture happened during a spiritual retreat by the two men at the Vatican and came only hours after the military in neighbouring Sudan ousted its longtime leader, President Omar al-Bashir, after 30 years of authoritarian rule. South Sudan plunged into civil war two years later after Kiir, a Dinka, fired Machar, from the Nuer ethnic group, from the vice presidency.

President Salva Kiir and his rival, the former rebel leader Riek Machar, clashed in 2013 leading to a civil war that left about 400,000 people dead. He has assured his disciples of the victory of peace over everything that fans the flames of war: "pride, greed, the lust for power, self-interest, lies and hypocrisy", Francis said. Let us move forward. There will be many problems but they will not overcome us.

A joint visit to South Sudan by Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury had been mooted in February 2017.

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir Mayardit and four of the five designated Vice Presidents: Riek Machar Teny Dhurgon, James Wani Igga, Taban Deng Gai and Rebecca Nyandeng De Mabior, are at the Vatican for the retreat.

The pontiff who spoke in Italian - which was translated by an aide into English - added that "but in front of the people, hold hands united".

This way, the pope said, that they can "become fathers of the nation". Reportedly, under the terms of a peace agreement which was signed in September, 2018, the vice presidents were to take office together on May 12, while sharing power and ending all the armed conflict between cans and among communities.

FG to look into gradual removal of fuel subsidy, says Finance Minister
He also stated that Nigeria and 16 other countries were at risk of debt financial distress. This is troubling and we must collaborate to address this.

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. This has certainly held true for South Sudan as recent government insurgency campaigns in Yei and Wau have included killings, looting, and burning of civilian property.

In his prepared address earlier on Thursday, Francis said South Sudan's people were exhausted by war and the leaders had a duty to build their young nation in justice.

"I will never tire of repeating that peace is possible!"

The retreat is the brainchild of Justin Welby, head of the Anglican communion, the Vatican Secretariat of State Pietro Parolin, and Rev John Chalmers, former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, who were all present at the meeting.

Pope Francis will give a speech at the end of the retreat on Thursday afternoon.

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