South Sudanese President Salva Kiir urged his people on Sunday to "forgive" the north for a devastating 1983-2005 civil war, in his first public declaration since a landmark independence vote ended.
Speaking from the pulpit in the Saint Theresa Roman Catholic cathedral in regional capital Juba, Kiir said: "For our deceased brothers and sisters, particularly those who have fallen during the time of struggle, may God bless them with eternal peace.
"And may we, like Jesus Christ on the cross, forgive those who have forcefully caused their deaths."
An estimated two million people died in the 22-year civil war, the latest round in five decades of conflict between the mainly Christian south and the mainly Arab, Muslim north that has blighted Africa's largest nation.
A thousand-strong congregation turned out for Sunday mass at the cathedral to pray for their nation-in-waiting as results trickled in from the week-long independence vote which wrapped up on Saturday.