Pope Francis on Thursday caused a stir after kneeling to kiss the feet of warring South Sudan President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar who had gone for a spiritual retreat at the Vatican.
The gesture could be translated as a form of humility of trying to unite the leaders.
Hosting the leaders, the Pope called for peace and reconciliation in the country, and that he wishes to visit South Sudan.
“I am asking you as a brother to stay in peace. I am asking you with my heart, let us go forward. There will be many problems but they will not overcome us. Resolve your problems,” said the Pope.
South Sudanese leaders held prayers for 24 hours inside the pope’s residence in a bid to heal bitter divisions a month before the war-ravaged nation is due to set up a unity government.
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This comes at a time their neighbours, Sudan, overthrew their President Omar al-Bashir through protests.
Speaking on state TV, defence minister Awad Ibn Ouf said the army would oversee a two-year transitional period followed by elections.
He also said a three-month state of emergency was being put in place.
Bashir had governed Sudan since 1989.