In Summary
  • Last month President Kiir and Dr Machar went for a two day retreat in the Vatican where Pope Francis kissed their feet and committed them "to hold hands united and to become fathers of the nation.

  • In a largely reconciliatory speech apart from the now regular dig at international media Mr Kiir said he recognised Dr Machar's apprehensions.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir says he has forgiven former vice president Riek Machar "in the spirit of our experience in Rome."

Delivering the State of the Nation Address at the National Assembly in Juba, President Kiir invited Dr Machar for the second time in a month to return to Juba from Khartoum where he is in exile.

He said the physical distance between them was an obstacle to peace and caused unnecessary delays in implementing the revitalised peace agreement reached in September last year.

PEACE PARTNERS

“In the spirit of this agreement and our experience in Rome, I once more extend my invitation to Dr Riek Machar to return home. I have completely forgiven him and all I ask from him is to become a peace partner, for he is no longer my opponent,” he said.

Last month President Kiir and Dr Machar went for a two day retreat in the Vatican where Pope Francis kissed their feet and committed them "to hold hands united and to become fathers of the nation.

In a largely reconciliatory speech apart from the now regular dig at international media Mr Kiir said he recognised Dr Machar's apprehensions.

"While I recogniSed Dr Riek’s fears and concerns, they all could not be addressed in his absence; some of these require his physical presence,” he said.

He admitted the country was facing a critical time but promised his government would do everything possible to restore lasting peace in the troubled nation.

“I stand for peace and stability and I completely will reject war," Mr Kiir said, terming consolidating peace and stability in the country a 'constitutional, moral and religious duty.'

He asked government and opposition forces to open corridors in their areas of control for free movement of people, goods, and services.

“I call upon armed oppositions to work in concert with the national army to continue to open corridors for freedom of movement of our citizens and to open trade routes. Peace in our local communities can only be experienced when citizens can move and trade freely.

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