The Upcoming Pilgrimage to the Vatican: The Search for Peace in South Sudan

Posted: April 2, 2019 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Commentary, Contributing Writers, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers, Pal Chol Nyan

The upcoming State and Opposition pilgrimage to the Vatican: The Case of the South Sudanese Peace Process

By Pal Chol Nyan, Juba, South Sudan

President Salva Kiir with Pope Francis, Vatican, March 2019

Tuesday, April 2, 2019 (PW) — Rumours had it that there would be a high profile political pilgrimage to the Vatican by the State and Opposition officials this month. It is said that the pilgrimage is meant to reconcile the warring factions of South Sudan especially the politicians, the protagonists of this deadly war, who have been on each other’s necks for nearly five years.

In the process, the divided SPLM political pilgrims would be required to observe two of the seven sacraments; that is repentance and then they would be prayed for as they seek for forgiveness. This is consistent with the Catholic and Anglican Communion norms and teachings.

It is a public knowledge that South Sudanese politicians have been branded by the region and the International community as corrupt, intransigent, self-seeking and uncaring for their downtrodden people they impoverished and subjected to untold suffering.

The liberators took up arms to come back and emancipate us economically and politically but unfortunately became more repressive and oppressive than the enemy we fought hard to become what we are now. The SPLM civil war with heavy death toll saw hundreds internally displaced and millions others in refugees’ camps living under squalid conditions with children dying from preventable diseases and malnutrition.

South Sudan is polarised as a result of the competition and scramble for power among the SPLM leaderships plunging the whole country into the current political turmoil, which is turned into a lucrative business by the traders of the escalating war.

It is widely expected that their going to the Holy See would be hosted by the Pontiff, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the global Head of the synod of the Presbyterian Church in a conducive and spiritual environment. 

I believe their being there would also be an opportune time for the leaders themselves, who fight over wealth and power, to forgive themselves and embrace a new era of peace and harmony. 

Am informed source confided to me that the state delegation would be headed by His Excellency, President Kiir and many senior officials of his government and the ruling party whereas the Opposition group would be headed by Dr Riek Machar, the SPLMIO leader and be accompanied by high profile Oppositions members and it will include other stakeholders in the agreement.

As we are well aware, the revitalized agreement was inked in Khartoum and it is being implemented although at a snail’s pace. There is yet a glimmer of hope that peace would indeed return and the life goes back to normalcy. 

The broken social fabrics must be restored so that we embark on the development of the country ruined and now in bubbles.

President Kiir is committed wholeheartedly to peace from his language. He promised from the bottom of his heart that it would be implemented in letter and spirit, notwithstanding, the dark forces pulling the strings behind the curtain and the divisions that have befallen some of the Oppositions.

The holdout groups headed by the two Generals must, too, be persuaded to join the peace train. Their prime concerns ought to be addressed and demands met with concessions, of course! 

I appreciate the President for having accepted to engage them politically. There is a scepticism whether or not the RTGONU said to be to formed in May would see the light as the cantonment, assembly and the training of the Unified Force that would be tasked to protect the Presidency and the state installations has not yet been accomplished and indeed behind schedule.

The goodness is that the members of the JDB are doing their best. They have resolved to see that 700 elements of the security forces undergo an intensive training to carry out their tasks. They need to be supported.

My appeal to the leaders going to the Vatican is to use that visit to the Holy See to reconcile and bring peace back to South Sudan. It is not AU, Great Lakes region, IGAD, UN nor EAC blocks where others have vested interests and exploit us with the will to see that the war rages on and does not stop.

It is a Holy place where issues connected with the lives of people are discussed in truth and spirit. The Forums are guided by chalice and the Holy Communion. No hypocrisy, no financial kickbacks. It is about speaking the truth, nothing but the truth.

Be careful! Any loose talk may boomerang badly on you. You can lie to the fellow mortal man but not to God. 

It is of paramount importance to bury the hatchet and see that South Sudan is a country suitable to live in and accommodative of all. It is the last attempt by the world to ensure South Sudan peace holds and it is good to seize that chance or else we will be left to our devices.

The author, Pal Chol Nyan, is a Graduate from the College of Radiological Medical Sciences from Sudan University of Sciences and Technology. He also holds a Diploma in Teaching Methodology and a Diploma in General Medical Sciences. He was a red army soldier, a former Primary school teacher, currently serving as a General Medical Practitioner in Juba Teaching Hospital in Juba, South Sudan. He is a columnist with local newspapers in Juba/South Sudan and contributes in many websites about social, security and economic. You can reach him via his email:

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