South Sudan plunged into civil war two years later after Kiir, a Dinka, fired Machar, from the Nuer ethnic group, from the vice presidency.
"Sudan laboured so hard to restore peace and stability and because of that we have the current prevailing peace agreement in South Sudan and it is a guarantor", Martin Elia Lomoro, South Sudan's cabinet affairs minister, said in a meeting with worldwide ceasefire monitors. "May the Merciful God touch the heart of every man and every woman in South Sudan, fill them with his grace and blessings, and bring forth rich fruits of lasting peace, even as the waters of the Nile, flowing through your country, bring life and abundant growth".
The Vatican, together with the South Sudan Council of Churches and the Rome-based Sant' Egidio global peace group, brought the leaders together for prayer and preaching inside the pope's residence in an attempt to heal divisions.
But they signed a peace agreement past year that brought the war to an end. I shall never tire of repeating this: peace is possible!
Last month, Brussels-based think-tank the International Crisis Group warned the deal risks total collapse before May 12, when the leaders are due to start sharing power.
How Meghan Markle's Birth Plan is Following Queen Elizabeth’s Example
It has been over two years since Meghan Markle and Prince Harry began their relationship. He said: "I think she probably wants a girl".
Pope Francis encouraged the South Sudanese leaders to "seek what unites you, beginning with the fact that you belong to one and the same people, and to overcome all that divides you".
Many people around the world have joined in prayer for the retreat in the hope that, as a spokesperson for the Archbishop of Canterbury said, it "could be a step on a journey" and might "build confidence and trust between parties and give them spiritual nourishment". The pope challenged us.
Kiir and Machar had clashed in 2013, leading to a civil war that left roughly 400,000 people in South Sudan dead. Pope Francis has closed a two-day retreat with South Sudan authorities at the Vatican with an unprecedented act of respect, kneeling down and kissing the feet of the African leaders. His breath was laboured as he bent down to kiss their feet. "We must deliver", Machar said. "Resolve your problems", Francis said in improvised remarks. His departure is yet another complication for a war-torn country struggling to maintain peace.
The retreat is the brainchild of Justin Welby, head of the Anglican communion, the Vatican Secretariat of State Pietro Parolin, and Rev John Chalmers, former Moderator of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, who were all present at the meeting.