South Sudanese President Salva Kiir on Friday prayed for forgiveness during national prayers as the war-torn country seeks to heal and reconcile from ethnic divisions caused by the more than three years of conflict.
The national prayers are to set the stage for the much lauded national dialogue initiated in December 2016 by President Kiir to help reconcile and unite the warring factions in the oil-rich and yet impoverished youngest nation.
South Sudan has been beset with more than three years of violent fighting since December 2013, after political dispute between President Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar led to killings of tens of thousands and displaced more than 2 million from their homes.
A peace agreement in 2015 to end the fighting was further weakened in the aftermath of renewed July fighting last year that led to the now exiled rebel leader Machar being replaced as First Vice President by his former chief negotiator Taban Deng in the transitional unity government.
The UN expressed fears of ethnic cleansing leading to genocide since conflict spread to once peaceful Equatoria region amid reports of rapes, killings and hate speech.
Ongoing intermittent fighting since July, has forced 1.5 million South Sudanese refugees fleeing violence into neighboring countries, according to the UN refugee agency (UNHCR). Enditem