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South Sudanese hope for an end to war after Peace Celebrations| Coastweek

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar [left] delivers a speech during peace celebrations in Juba, capital of South Sudan. Sudan President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir [center] waves to the crowd during peace deal celebration in Juba. South Sudanese President Salva Kiir [right] delivers his speech during peace celebrations in Juba. South Sudanese has celebrated the signing of a power-sharing deal aimed at ending a brutal five-year civil war amid calls for lasting peace in the world's youngest nation. Regional dignitaries and South Sudan's rebel leader Riek Machar who signed a revitalized peace deal in September with President Salva Kiir in Ethiopia, joined thousands of South Sudanese in the capital Juba to celebrate the peace deal amid tight security. XINHUA PHOTOS - JULIUS GALE AND WANG TENG

South Sudanese hope for an end to war after Peace Celebrations

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- Thousands of South Sudanese on Wednesday gathered in the capital, Juba to celebrate a recently signed peace deal amid high hopes of an end to five years of civil unrest.

The nationwide celebrations attended by regional leaders marked the signing of the new peace deal agreed in September.

To many South Sudanese, the latest peace deal offers hope of ending the civil war and unbearable economic crisis that has ravaged the war-torn east African country since it plunged into civil war in late 2013.

"It is so wonderful for us to celebrate peace and I hope that this will be the last suffering in South Sudan," said 19-year-old Kual Marial.

"We women want peace and our hope is that they (leaders) have really realized that we are suffering and they will change their hearts."

"Peace has come and it is wonderful. With peace coming in, there is possibility of my people coming back from the refugee camp in Uganda," said John Ito, 77.

Ito said lasting peace will make South Sudan stable and give it chance for development and prosperity, urging the South Sudanese leaders not to squander the latest chance.

"I want to thank them (leaders) for the spirit of reconciliation, forgiveness and for bringing peace to us.

"Let them go ahead, and they should not fail again," Ito told Xinhua in Juba.

South Sudan descended into civil war in late 2013, and the conflict has created one of the fastest growing refugee crises in the world.

The UN estimates that about 4 million South Sudanese have been displaced internally and externally.

A peace deal signed in August 2015 collapsed following renewed violence in the capital, Juba in July 2016.

Under the new peace deal, opposition leader Riek Machar will once again be reinstated as Kiir’s deputy.

Speaking during the peace celebrations in Juba on Wednesday, Machar who returned to South Sudan for the first time in two years after fleeing the country, reiterated his commitment to the new peace pact and end the war in South Sudan.

"I came only to confirm to people that I am for peace.

"The past is gone.

"We have opened a new chapter for peace and unity," Machar told the cheering crowd in Juba.

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir declared an end to war during the peace ceremony on Wednesday, adding that he has forgiven his opponents and is ready to move forward.

Kiir also apologized to his people for the "immense suffering" they went through in the past five years.

Daniela James, 24, welcomed the positive steps taken by the South Sudanese leaders to end the war, and urged them to ensure that this latest peace deal is implemented fully.

"I want to thank our leaders for this achievement.

"It is very great to me and I’m so thankful," James said.

"Let them implement this peace and work on it.

"I don’t see it just to be in the name of peace, but let’s implement everything because I as a South Sudanese, I need peace in my country.

"I need our people who have been suffering to come home and stay in peace James stressed," Daniela added.

"We are very happy for the peace, being a youth in South Sudan; I hope it will bring peace and unity to all South Sudanese," said Atem Camilo, 26.

"If there is peace, everybody will be happy, we will move freely, we shall not suffer of food shortage," added Camilo.


South Sudanese celebrate peace deal amid calls for lasting peace

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudanese on Wednesday celebrated the signing of a power-sharing deal aimed at ending a brutal five-year civil war amid calls for lasting peace in the world’s youngest nation.

Regional dignitaries and South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar who signed a revitalized peace deal in September with President Salva Kiir in Ethiopia, joined thousands of South Sudanese in the capital Juba to celebrate the peace deal amid tight security.

Speaking during the celebrations, President Kiir said the five-year-old civil war in his country has come to an end with the celebrations.

President Kiir also declared he has forgiven his opponents and is ready to move forward as part of efforts to end conflict in the country.

"I want to reiterate that the war in South Sudan has come to an end and we have forgiven each other and we have decided to move forward," Kiir told thousands of people who gathered in Juba to celebrate the peace deal.

The president said he has taken personal responsibility for the suffering of South Sudanese as a result of the conflict.

"You have endured immense suffering and the weight of responsibility heavily falls on my shoulders as your president and I deeply regret the physical, psychological, and emotional wounds you have undeservedly endured.

"As your president, I want to apologize on behalf of all the parties to the conflict," said Kiir.

During the celebrations, Kiir ordered the release of James Gatdet Dak, a former spokesman of Machar, saying although Gatdet has been sentenced to death, his release is for the sake of peace.

Kiir also said he would release William John Endley, a South African national who was Machar’s adviser on Thursday after which he will be deported to his home country.

The South African, who is a retired army colonel, was also sentenced to death early this year on charges of espionage, conspiracy to overthrow the government and supplying weapons.

"The war is over and this celebration is testimony that we are committed to the agreement and we must commit ourselves to it," Kiir added.

Machar, who returned to Juba for the first time in two years since fleeing the country in 2016, took part in the peace celebration, saying that he came to Juba to show his commitment to the latest peace deal and end the conflict in South Sudan.

"I came only to confirm to people that I am for peace.

"The past is gone.

"We have opened a new chapter for peace and unity," said Machar who had been exiled to South Africa over the years.

Yoweri Museveni, Ugandan President, told South Sudan leaders to embrace non-violent means of solving political conflicts and differences through transparent elections and dialogue.

"It is therefore ideologically incorrect to use war to solve political arguments, elections are the discussions or the right way or referendum but then the elections must be fair.

"If the elections are not fair they are the one which create conditions for people thinking other ways of solving problems," said Museveni.

He congratulated Kiir and Machar for allowing logic to prevail after they signed in September a final revitalized peace agreement in the Ethiopian capital to end more than four years of conflict.

The Ugandan leader urged both leaders to avoid sectarianism, tribal politics and instead create systems and institutions with national character in the army and civil service.

Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, Somali president, called on South Sudan leaders to make concessions to put the country and its people first.

"Let’s all remember that no deal is always perfect, no arrangement is without flaws, no negotiation is perfectly balanced.

"The real test of a leader is to have the ability to make concessions and put this country and its people first," said Mohamed.

Mohamed said attainment of peace in South Sudan is significant for stability of the east African region, adding his country will support South Sudan.

"You have shown the way for peace, I urge you to steer your country into the right path of peace and development," said the Somali leader.

"You have shown a great statesmanship in coming together to end the protracted conflict.

"I urge you to join hands to stir your country into the right path towards peace and development," he said.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who helped broker the peace deal, called on South Sudan’s leaders to commit to the peace agreement and move their country forward.

Sahle-Work Zewde, newly appointed Ethiopian President, called for ceasefire and urged the leaders to fully implement the peace deal which was inked in Ethiopia by Kiir and Machar.

Under the new peace deal, Machar will serve as the first of five vice presidents under a transitional government of national unity.

South Sudan’s Machar commends African leaders for reviving peace

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan’s rebel leader Riek Machar on Wednesday commended efforts of various African leaders for reviving the peace process in the wake of the renewed July violence in 2016.

Machar, who leads the main rebel group, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/ Army-in Opposition (SPLM/A-IO), lauded President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed of Ethiopia, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni for helping the warring parties reach compromises that ushered in the final peace deal in Ethiopia.

"We thank President al-Bashir for doing the most difficult task of persuading the parties to reach compromises in the midst of great suspicion and skepticism among the regional and international actors and more worse among us the warring parties," Machar told peace celebrations in Juba attended by African leaders and diplomats.

He said Khartoum has become a hub for peacemaking and thanked President al-Bashir on proving the skeptics wrong.

The Sudanese leader mediated the peace process under the auspices of the east African bloc the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which saw South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and Machar meet face-to-face after the 2015 peace deal was weakened.

Machar, who fled the capital following renewed violence in 2016, had been exiled to South Africa.

"I would like to thank in person Abiy Ahmed Ali, prime minister of Ethiopia, for taking the courageous decision of extracting me from that confinement to engage in face-to-face meeting with my brother President Salva Kiir in order for us to end the impasse," said Machar.

He also commended the IGAD leaders for delegating and mandating president al-Bashir to mediate the crises and take the lead in the process on behalf of the bloc, which led to the signing of Khartoum peace declaration and subsequent agreement.

Machar thanked Kenyatta for supporting the Khartoum peace process after it gained momentum under President al-Bashir’s mediation.

"We want to thank you again that you have helped us to bring peace to our country.

"We also want to thank your competent mediation team led by your foreign minister, Al-Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmed, for the hard work and tremendous effort to pull former warring parties together to cross the finishing line," he said.

Machar said Museveni fully backed the peace process and several meetings occurred at Uganda’s State House in Entebbe, where a number of compromises were made.

He also extended thanks to countries and organizations including the European Union, IGAD partner forums and China.

David Shearer, head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), paid tribute to regional leaders, specifically the leaders of Sudan and Uganda for the crucial roles they played in securing the agreement and who continue to champion its full implementation.

"Some clashes still persist in parts of the country, but overall levels of fighting have reduced.

"Very simply, that reduction has meant that fewer have died, more humanitarian goods have flowed to those who need them and, people once again can start planning for their own future," said Shearer.

There is still much hard work ahead to ensure that the revitalized peace agreement is fully implemented, he said.

Shearer urged the South Sudan leaders to embrace trust, the key ingredient for peace implementation.

"Let me assure you, the United Nations is absolutely committed to working with you all as a partner," he said.

"We will stand alongside the parties as they move forward in peace.

"We will use our resources and our presence across the country to support reconciliation and peace building," Shearer said.


South African government welcomes decision by
South Sudan to release retired army colonel

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The South African government on Thursday welcomed the decision by the South Sudanese government to release William Endley, an ex-colonel of the South African Defence Force (SADF).

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir announced the decision to release Endley on Wednesday as a gesture of peace during the National Peace Celebration, which took place in the capital city of Juba.

Endley was sentenced to death on February 12, 2018 for espionage and conspiring to overthrow the South Sudanese government.

Lindiwe Sisulu, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, extended gratitude to Kiir for the decision to release Endley.

"We appeal to all South Africans who happen to get opportunities to work abroad to observe and respect the laws of the countries they serve," said Sisulu.

Kirr announced on Wednesday that he would release Endley on Thursday and deport him back to South Africa.

Endley, an adviser for South Sudanese rebel leader Riek Machar, was accused of providing Machar with military support. Endley has been imprisoned in South Sudan for more than two years.

South Sudan won independence from Sudan in 2011 but plunged into a civil war in 2013 after Kiir accused Machar, then the vice president, of plotting a coup against him.



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