Wau — South Sudan President Salva Kiir on Tuesday urged the population in the young nation to embrace peace, tolerance and forgiveness during this festive season.
Addressing thousands of Christians, who turned out for prayers at Kator church in Juba, the South Sudan capital on Christmas day, Kiir assured them that security in the country remains under control, despite recent incidences of violence witnessed in some regions.
Members of the security force, the president assured the congregation, remain on high alert to control any outbreak of violence and restore calm.
"Security forces have been put on maximum alert across the county before Christmas to provide adequate protection so that citizens would be able to celebrate peaceful without fear. You have heard the minister of interior talking to media and in the public about measures being put in place to the address the issue of insecurity during Christmas and the New Year," said Kiir, in a statement broadcast on the state-owned South Sudan Television (SSTV).
He added, "These measures have already been put in place and they will continue to remain. Therefore, people should not be worried about security. It will be taken care of by the security forces during this season. This is my message and I want to assure you that whatever incident that may occur will be addressed. But let us hope that nothing happens.
The South Sudan leader, during the prayer event, also encouraged citizens to assist government in identifying criminals, many of whom he said, come to the country from neighbouring countries and all over the world to "destabilize" the new nation.
"We are not alone. They have come from all over and this implies that we must work together to identify people who harbor criminals instead of engaging ourselves in blaming games and avoid acts of spectators and helpless criticisms," stressed Kiir.
Meanwhile Santo Laku Pio, auxiliary bishop of Juba diocese said he was disappointed by the rising insecurity levels in the country, and wondered whether the perpetrators were the same people who fought to free themselves from all forms of violence and discrimination.
"Until this moment there are people who died and not able to celebrate this season with us even though we attained our independence. We have suffered a lot. The British left us confused. The Arab left us in destitute. For 55 years, we have gone through all hardships," he said.
"We thought this has gone when we obtained our independence but it is unfortunate that we still have people who tell our people to sit down today, tell them to comply, rob them, harassing them and do all kind of mistreatment. People get to houses at night and kill people because of telephone. They kill people because of computers, because of food. Why?" asked the Bishop.
James Wani Igga, the speaker of South Sudan National Assembly, Hilde F. Johnson, the Special Representative for Secretary General of the United Nations to South Sudan, senior government officials and foreign dignitaries also attended the prayer service.