"Rome was not built in one day, so with our peace, we are building it," Barnaba Maria Benjamin, head of the South Sudan government envoy, said in a press conference Jan. 13.
Benjamin said it is important that Sant'Egidio will be monitoring whether the agreement is implemented. He underlined that the government of South Sudan is committed to "inclusivity," calling it the "cornerstone of the future of the Republic of South Sudan."
"The cessation of hostilities is important because it allows our people … to have humanitarian assistance reach all rural parts of South Sudan and it allows us to build forgiveness, reconciliation and harmony," Benjamin said.
Hundreds of thousands of people were killed in South Sudan's civil war, which began shortly after South Sudan became an independent country in 2011. The fighting primarily took place between those forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and rebel groups led by Riek Machar, the former vice president.
The signers of the declaration wrote that they were "humbled by the relentless spiritual and moral appeal for peace, reconciliation and fraternity by Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Former Moderator of Presbyterian Church of Scotland, as well as those of the South Sudanese religious leaders for reconciliation, peace and fraternity."
The two groups also reaffirmed their will to foster political dialogue under the auspices of the Catholic community Sant'Egidio in order to facilitate further reconciliation and stabilization.
The Vatican hosted South Sudan's political leaders for a peacebuilding retreat in April 2019, at which Pope Francis knelt to kiss the feet of the president of South Sudan and the leader of the opposition movement.
"We came together here in appreciation to the tireless effort of His Holiness Pope Francis when he called the leadership of our country and begged them for peace," Pa'gan Amum Okiech, member of the leadership council of SSOMA and Interim Chairman of Sudan People's Liberation Movement.
Pope Francis, who does not have any international trips scheduled for 2020, has repeatedly expressed his hope that he will be able to visit South Sudan, along with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, in the coming year.
The pope sent a Christmas message together with Archbishop Welby and Rev. John Chalmers, the former moderator of the Scottish Presbyterian Church to the people of South Sudan expressing best wishes for a swift implementation of the peace agreements.
"May the Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace, enlighten you and guide your steps in the way of goodness and truth, and bring to fulfilment our desire to visit your beloved country," the message states.