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S. Sudan’s Kiir says elections an opportunity to choose leaders

September 21, 2017 (JUBA) - South Sudan President Salva Kiir says any polls conducted in the young nation will give citizens opportunity to choose their leaders, reiterating earlier calls for the holdout opposition leaders to denounce violence and return to the country

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Salva Kiir casts his vote in the 2010 elections.

The president rejected the use of violence and all forms of incitement, saying it undermines the cause of the liberation struggle.

“We continue to call on them; those are who continuing to advocate for war that peace was in the interest of the country. And because of this we have been extending our arms and a hand of peace, a hand of friendship, of forgiveness and for them to use the national dialogue and other peaceful means and mechanisms to end this conflict”, Kiir told reporters in the capital, Juba on Wednesday.

According to the South Sudanese leader, several amnesties to those who took up arms as a guarantee against the Juba government were declared, but very few armed groups responded to them.

The president, however, said his administration will support initiatives aimed at addressing peace and security, stressing that no community can establish lasting conditions for peace and tolerance unless it finds ways of building mutual trust among its people.

“We know the quest for peace has never been an easy process. But we are working hard to ensure that Members of society need to be oriented toward peace and tolerance. At the same time, social, economic, and political systems must be re-oriented to the same peace and tolerance,” said the South Sudanese leader.

He added, “Inclusively, the discipline of peaceful co-existence must shape our way of life. Having common goals promotes mutual understanding, respect, tolerance and dialogue”.

The President made the remarks during a function at which he received credentials of the newly appointed ambassadors from the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Norway, Germany and South Africa. The new ambassadors included, Alison Blackburne from Britain, Abdullah Fahd Ali Al-Kahtani from Saudi Arabia, Lars Andersen from Norway, Jan Hendrick Van Thiel from of Germany and Major General Gordon Mwandile Yekelo from South Africa.

Meanwhile, the undersecretary in the foreign affairs ambassador, Baak Valentino Wol said the Juba government and its administration were committed and ready to closely work with the ambassadors.

The new envoys, he said, expressed their appreciation and gratitude to President Kiir for accepting their credentials while assuring him of their commitment to work with South Sudan government so as to find ways of ending the nation’s civil war and restore peace and stability.

Last month, the South Sudanese leader called upon the country’s opposition groups to prepare for the country’s general elections, earmarked to take place after the end of the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) period in 2018.

To fast track processes leading to the polls, Kiir officially declared his national dialogue initiative and declared unilateral cease-fire with rebels in May, albeit it has repeated been violated.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and over two million displaced in South Sudan’s conflict triggered by political differences between President Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar.