Nov. 10 (UPI) — Pope France, urging politicians in South Sudan to forge a consensus government, said Sunday he plans to visit the trouble African nation later this year. He also urged prayers for another troubled nation politically: Bolivia.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit and opposition leader Riek Machar have been attempting to form a power-sharing government after signing a peace deal in September 2018.
“I address a special thought to the dear people of South Sudan, whom I will have to visit this year,” the pope said from the Vatican palace window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.
During his Angelus address, Francis mentioned a spiritual retreat at the Vatican in April for the South Sudan political leaders.
He knelted and kissed the feet of several of the South Sudanese leaders.
“The South Sudanese people have suffered too much in recent years and await with great hope a better future, especially the definitive end of conflicts and lasting peace,” he added. “therefore urge those responsible to continue, tirelessly, with their commitment to an inclusive dialogue in the search for consensus for the good of the nation.”
Up to 400,000 people have been killed and more than 4 million displaced in the civil war conflicted that erupted in 2013. The nation gained independence from Sudan in 2011.
Mayardit accused Machar, his vice president, of orchestrating a coup against him.”
After the recitation of the Hail Mary for South Sudan, the pope also invited people to pray for Bolivia, which is near his homeland of Argentina in South America.
Results of an Oct. 20 election have been disputed, which has resulted in violence. International monitors identified serious irregularities in the last vote and recommended a new ballot.
“I urge all Bolivians, especially political and social actors, to await the results of the election review process, which is currently underway, with a constructive spirit of peace and serenity.”
Morales has been Bolivia’s president for nearly 14 years.
The country’s election board had an unexplained 24-hour halt in the vote count. When it resumed, on it showed a shift in favor of Morales.
An Organisation of American States report found it was “statistically improbable that Morales had obtained the 10 percent difference to avoid a second round.”