Home | News    Monday 9 April 2012

Kiir tells Easter worshippers he hopes for peaceful settlement with Sudan

April 8, 2012 (JUBA) - South Sudanese President, Salva Kiir Mayardit, dismissed fears that border clashes and rising tension with Sudan could return the countries to war, when addressing a prayer service to mark Easter celebrations in Juba on Sunday.

“War is not the solution," said Kiir. "We have always advocated for peaceful dialogue and this remains to be our position in addressing all the pending issues with the government of Sudan”, he said.

Both countries have exchanged accusations that the other started the clashes. “We will not be the first to return our citizens to war”, Kiir said.

The government of South Sudan on Friday expressed hope that the presidential summit between Kiir and his Sudanese counterpart Omer Hassan al-Bashir, that was due to take place 3 April, would take place despite recent setbacks in relations.

Thabo Mbeki, the chair of the African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP), has visited both Juba and Khartoum in recent days to try to lay the ground work for the meeting to be rearranged.

It was hoped that Kiir and Bashir would ink deals on security and rights of nationals residing in the others’ country as well as make progress on oil, debt and other issues.

Kiir called on the citizens to support his government in spite of all the difficulties in relations with Khartoum. South Sudan, is undergoing a period of severe austerity after it stopped oil production in January.

Juba claims that Sudan stole over 6 million barrels of its oil as it passed through its pipes to exported out of Port Sudan. This figure has not been confirmed or denied by Khartoum.

Oil revenues were essential for both economies, especially South Sudan which relied on the 350,000 barrels per day it exported for 98% of the government’s budget.

However, Kiir said that South Sudan will soon overcome these challenges and that nobody should worry about them.

The president added that those in the Khartoum government who think that they can enter South Sudan by military means were misguided. He expressed trust and confidence that police forces across the country, collaboratively with the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), will maintain and provide adequate security to the citizens during holiday period.


Speaking at Easter prayer services, Kiir emphasised the importance of peace, love and tolerance. Christianity is the predominant religion in South Sudan, which also has a significant Muslim minority and groups that follow traditional indigenous belief systems.

At the celebrations on Sunday Catholic and Anglican churchgoers held ceremonies attended by senior government officials and foreign diplomats as well as members of the international organisations operating in the world’s youngest country.

Clergymen called for peace and unity to prevail in the country and asked citizens to respect and love one another. Believers at the services called on political leaders across the country to reconcile.

President Kiir shook hands and spoke to priests and monks at the country’s Roman Catholic Church Cathedral in Kator. Outside thousands of worshipers smashed boiled egg shells against each other, representing their belief in Jesus’ resurrection. They also ate circular bread symbolising his crown of thorns.

Speaking at the same service, the Catholic Archbishop of Juba, Paulino Lukudu said “Jesus promised us salvation and hopefully, we will be worthy of it, because he is truthful of his promise to us.”

"Jesus went to Jerusalem to call people to peace," said Archbishop Lukudu.

"And just as he did, we hope that there will be peace in this country, especially in Jonglei, in Abyei, in Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains", he said referring to conflicts within South Sudan and in Sudanese territories that fought with the SPLA in the civil war that resulted in the countries independence.

In South Kordofan, home to the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile rebels-aligned to South Sudan during the civil war (1983-2005) have been fighting Khartoum since last year.

“As church we call for prevalence of peace and social harmony. Political leaders in the north and in war affected areas needs to listen to the words of God and come together”, Lukudu said.

Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass at St Peter’s Square in Vatican saying: "May the Lord, the victor over evil and death, sustain the Christian communities of the African continent; may he grant them hope in facing their difficulties, and make them peacemakers and agents of development in the societies to which they belong."


Abyei was due to vote on whether to join South Sudan or remain north of the border in January 2011 but political disputes scuppered the referendum. After an attack on a UN convoy transporting the northern military out of the area blamed on southern forces the Sudanese army took control of Abyei by force in May 2011.

The offensive displaced 110,000 from Abyei into in the South Sudanese states of Warrap, Unity and Northern Bahr el Ghazal. Others have fled as far as Western Bahr el Ghazal State.

Christians from the areas around Abyei told Sudan Tribune on Sunday that thousands of the local people mostly internally displaced persons had participated in the Easter celebrations.

Without permanent places of worship they gathered in thatched structures made from grass that had been painted sky-blue and decorated with icons of Jesus, his mother Mary and other saints.