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Kiir and Machar say peace aimed at ending South Sudanese suffering

A man waves South Sudanese national flags during peace celebrations in the capital Juba, South Sudan Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018 (AP Photo)
October 31, 2018 (JUBA) - President Salva Kiir and the leader of the main opposition group Riek Machar vowed to work hard for peace implementation and stability in the country, saying they want to end the suffering of the South Sudanese people.

The two South Sudanese leaders made their pledge in a big celebration held in Juba with the participation of the Ethiopian President Sahlework Zewde, Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir, Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni and Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly.

President Kiir who was the last speaker started his speech by apologizing to the South Sudanese on behalf of the parties to the peace agreement for the suffering that the five-year war caused to them.

He further confessed that the first thing that convinced him to strike a peace deal with the armed groups was the suffering that people are experiencing in the country.

"When I went to Khartoum (last June), I told my negotiating team I want peace I’m coming from Juba and people are in a bad shape. So in your discussions with the opposition whatever they want let’s give it to them," he said.

He added that he looked at what President Omer al-Bashir did in 2005 when he accepted the Comprehensive Peace Agreement preferring to have two countries in peace instead of one country at war.

"So this agreement is yours and you have to protect it from spoilers who should not sabotage it again," he stressed.

Kiir and Machar were largely the heroes of the day. Also, both were keen to address the ordinary people in the country as they almost spoke in Arabic. Further, both stressed their commitment to the signed peace agreement and told South Sudanese that they would not fight against each other again.

Kiir was keen to make the release of Machar’s spokesperson as a gesture of goodwill to the opposition leader who is expected to be his first deputy again within eight months.

For his part, Machar said he came to show that he is a peace lover, adding that if he abstained from coming to Juba on Wednesday people would think he is not a man of peace.

"Peace in our heart and I want to assure you that we have a strong determination to restore peace in the county. So, if you meet someone who did not come to the Freedom Square today tell him that you saw me," he said.

After thanking the regional leaders, the opposition leader directed his speech again to the people speaking about the revitalized peace agreement and its main points.

The regional leaders in their speeches encouraged the peace partners to work together to achieve development and prosperity of South Sudan and reiterated their continued support for the implementation process.

President Kiir in his speech said the war tainted the reputation of South Sudan and announced that one of the main duties of the transitional government would be to carry out an aggressive diplomacy to correct the image of the country.

During the celebration, the University of Juba awarded President Omer al-Bashir a horary doctorate for his role to achieve peace in South Sudan.

Vice-Chancellor Professor John Akech said the University’s Senate decided to honour President al- Bashir with a Doctorate of Philosophy in Peace and Diplomacy from the Institute of Peace, Development and Security studies at the University of Juba.