“I am hopeful for renewed peace in South Sudan, and while we gather in churches and homes across the national on Christmas Day, I urge you all to join me in praying for our many displaced, “ said Kiir.
Kiir also expressed his concern about the current security situation and economic crisis in South Sudan. “We are working firmly to ensure peace and economic stability, so that very soon you can return to your villages and homes to continue your lives as you once were.
“As we end one year and begin another, we must recommit ourselves to the cause of people and extend the hand of unity and friendship across all divides,” he added.
First vice president Gen. Taban Deng Gai in his New Year message said achieving genuine and lasting peace remains the only option the government has to realize. Despite the challenging economic hardships, the government in pursuit of this vision has made significant strides in 2017,” he added.
Gen. Gai, who is also leading a faction of the SPLM-IO (for peace) in Juba, hoped the government will continue to use the revitalization forum, the national dialogue and local peace initiatives to consolidate the progress made for peace in the country.
“The year 2018 provides a unique and rare opportunity for us to work together and strive harder to promote a united, reconciled, conflict free and prosperous society.
“In the same spirit, I wish also to express my best wishes for a happy, peaceful, fruitful and prosperous New Year 2018,” he added.
Meanwhile, residents of Juba have expressed joy over the level of security and the absence of gunshot on New Year’s Eve in most areas.
They said there was no sound of gunshot in their respective areas, and spent the whole night dancing and sitting outside their homes; with jubilation, singing, and prayer events in different localities in Juba.
Most residents said the improved security observed through the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations is a positive step towards realizing stability in South Sudan, and called for continuing the professionalism displayed by the security forces during the festive season.
Sporadic gunfire is usually heard in Juba and other major towns on Christmas Eve, New Year and on national days like Independence Day or Martyrs Day.
However, this year the Ministry of Interior and the SPLA General Headquarters issued stern warnings to police officers and soldiers to desist from any form of celebratory gunshots.
Security forces were deployed in various areas in Juba to ensure the holiday festivities were peaceful.