“No matter where people live or who they are, all South Sudanese hope for peace and prosperity,” he added. “We are witnessing a return to business as usual,” where progress on the peace agreement itself is dragging on. The agreement “pushed the country on the path to lasting peace,” said UN Supreme Envoy David Shearer. “We welcome the fact that the government and opposition parties have made the necessary compromises to enable this important step,” the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and Norway said in a joint statement on 23 February. But the young peace agreement was reinforced by an invitation for Kiir and Machar to visit the Vatican in April 2019. The warring leaders went to the private chapel of Pope Francis for mediation. “We all wrote down what the Spirit gave us,” recalled Bishop Precious Omuku, special representative for the conflict in sub-Saharan Africa for the Archbishop of Canterbury. On the last day, the pope joined the group. Dressed in white, Francis kissed Kiir and Machar`s feet. “Solve your problems,” Francis told the men. The sacred withdrawal has had repercussions, say several analysts and Western officials.

In the months that followed, Kiir vividly remembered the papal visit of Western diplomats. CAIRO – Leaders of Sudan`s interim government and a number of rebel groups signed a peace agreement Saturday in Juba, South Sudan`s capital, that observers hope will end nearly two decades of conflict in war-torn areas, including Darfur. After nearly a year of hard work in Juba, the agreement is comprehensive and addresses the fundamental issues of the Sudanese crises in Darfur, both regions and other marginalized regions, albeit in a mixture of regional and national protocols. This is a major part of achieving the vision of a democratic “New Sudan” based on respect for the diversity of the Sudanese people and equal citizenship, without religious, ethnic, cultural or gender discrimination. According to a special representative of the UN Secretary-General, progress in implementing the South Sudan peace agreement has been halted in part because of the coronavirus pandemic. The leader of one of the factions that signed the joint peace agreement, Arko Minawi, stressed that it was a step in the right direction. Soon, Machar made regular visits to Juba. The peace agreement has become more realistic despite the missed deadlines. A Western diplomat said regional efforts to resolve the country`s peace deal intensified in November 2019, particularly after South Africa`s vice president, David Mabuza, was more involved. The outbreak of violence shocked the international community, but in reality, the current civil war has only intensified a process that has always been ongoing during the peace agreement period from 2005 to 2013.