Leaders od the war-torn North-eastern African country were invited to the Pope’s residence at the Vatican for a special retreat amidst a 24-hour prayer to pave way for a peaceful formation of unity government which is just a month ahead.

Reports say the Catholic church leader appealed to the South Sudanese president, Salva Kiir and his former deputy turned rebel leader Riek Machar, as well as three other vice presidents who were also at the retreat to abide by whatever peace agreement that would be arrived at.

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Pope Francis surprises Sudanese leaders as he kneels down to kiss their feet (photos)

“I am asking you as a brother to stay in peace. I am asking you with my heart, let us go forward. There will be many problems but they will not overcome us. Resolve your problems,” the pope is quoted as having told the Sudanese leaders.

The gesture by the pope portrays how badly he would like to see peace restored to South Sudan. The 82-year-old pope managed to kneel down despite the fact that he is now helped by aids, as age is already having a toll on his health.

Pope Francis surprises Sudanese leaders as he kneels down to kiss their feet (photos)

What is left to be seen is whether the Sudanese leaders will make peace to not only honour the pope’s plea to them, but also to help cease the loss of precious lives through a civil war that has been ongoing for years.