Kenyans stunned after Pope Francis kisses South Sudan's leaders feet

Kenyans stunned after Pope Francis kisses South Sudan's leaders feet

Machar had fled to Democratic Republic of Congo before he went to South Africa and lastly returned to Sudan which played a great role in enhancing communication between the two leaders.

Asked if he thought the national unity government could be ready by May 12, he said: "Unfortunately, I have to say "no".

After the retreat, the pope kissed the South Sudanese leaders' feet, saying: "Your people is awaiting your return to your country, the reconciliation of all its members, and a new era of peace and prosperity for all".

The pope said that he is praying for the leaders for South Sudan to become peacemakers, who "build peace through dialogue, negotiation and forgiveness".

Social media is now buzzing with visuals of renowned religious leader, Pope Francis, who was captured in a dramatic gesture as he went on his knees to kiss some South Sudan warring leaders in a bid to urge them not to return to civil war.

Kiir and Machar signed a tenuous peace agreement in September 2018, which the country's Catholic bishops have called "fatally flawed" because it does not address the root causes of the conflict. He also repeated his wish to visit the country along with other religious leaders to solidify the peace.

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Earlier Thursday, the Sudanese army announced the "removal" of al-Bashir and the imposition of a two-year "transitional phase". There were also reports that several senior figures close to Bashir in the ruling National Congress party had been detained.

But Kiir might still be willing to form a unity government with Machar if Kiir thought he could improve relations with foreign powers, consolidate his power and pick off the last remaining rebel group, led by former general Thomas Cirillo, said the International Crisis Group's Boswell.

The South Sudanese leaders did not make any statement in response to the pope's plea for peace. We have clearly heard the cry of the poor and the needy; it rises up to heaven, to the very heart of God our Father, who desires to grant them justice and peace. The pope challenged us.

Some recalled another "kissing" controversy with the Pope as he seemed to try dodge the faithful's kissing his ring on one video.

The meeting between the two men had been billed as "an occasion for encounter and reconciliation, in a spirit of respect and trust", the Vatican said, describing it as "both ecumenical and diplomatic at the same time".

The idea to hold the retreat from the 10-11 of April was proposed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby who also is taking part in the retreat together with the ecclesiastical authorities of South Sudan.

Pope Francis will give a speech at the end of the retreat on Thursday afternoon. "Resolve your problems", the pope said after he performed the rare gesture.

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