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Embrace dialogue, Church leaders tell S. Sudanese parties

December 21, 2019 (JUBA) – Church leaders in South Sudan have appealed to the non-signatories to the revitilised peace agreement to cease all military hostilities and choose the path of dialogue.

A group of Bishops in Juba (ST/file)

The call was made in a joint Christmas message from South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC) signed by bishops and leaders from the Catholic Church, Episcopal, Presbyterian and Pentecostal churches.

“Let us unite to make 2020 a year of peace and hope for the people of South Sudan!” it stated, adding, “Blessed are the peace makers”

The church leader also advocated for respect for differences among people and increased efforts for peace in the young nation.

“The first people to see humbly glory of the saviour, after Mary and Joseph, were the shepherds”, partly read the joint statement.

“And they were not scandalized by his poverty. Rather, like Mary, they contemplate his glory with simple eyes”, it added.

Recognizing the ongoing conflicts in South Sudan and the continued hardships in the country, the church leaders urged people to recognize the face of Jesus and for all those suffering in the country.

“On this festive day, let us ask the Lord for Peace, Healing, Forgiveness and Reconciliation for South Sudan”, further noted the joint statement, while expressing their hope that the will to resume dialogue might prevail, and that a solution might finally be reached.

Meanwhile, the church leaders thanked all those who contributed to the advancing of peace in South Sudan, including those who facilitate meetings across parties and all humanitarian organisations.

The church leaders, in their joint statement also expressed concerns at the slow implementation of the peace agreement, stating that “continuous delays would mean extension of the suffering if the people and shattering their hopes for lasting peace in the country.”

South Sudan descended into civil war in mid-December 2013 when President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of plotting a coup, allegations the latter denied.

In September last year, the country’s rival factions signed a revitalized peace deal to end the civil war that killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions.

(ST)