August 21, 2011 (JUBA) - Salva Kiir, president of newly independent South Sudan has called on clerics to help government address the challenges facing new the nation but warned them to keep away from politicising religion.
- South Sudan president Salva Kiir
The president made the remarks while addressing South Sudan Muslims on 20 August during a Ramadan Breakfast organised at the Presidential Guest House in the capital Juba.
He also urged clerics to refrain from "practicing religious corruption".
Kiir said his party, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), has a vision of religion freedom.
The president also chided the Akhir Lahza newspaper based in Khartoum for what he said was false information against his family.
The newspaper claimed that a son from his fourth wife, allegedly called John Salva Kiir, had converted to Islam from Christianity before South Sudan become an independent on July 9th. Kiir said he neither has a fourth wife nor a son called John.
The chairperson of South Sudan’s Muslim Council Atahir Bior narrated challenges and problems facing the Muslim Community in the Africa’s 54th country and called on clerics from various religious backgrounds to preach peace and justice instead of preaching politics.
“As religious leaders we should only be preaching about love and peace. We should not mix politics with religion.” said Bior. He said that women and children are the people who suffer the most from political instability.
Bior said that women and children have enormous prospects to bring about political and economic development in the new nation. The cleric further explained that maintaining peace and justice for all in the society is a responsibility that should be shouldered by all people in the society.
Using political chaos in Sudan’s western region of Darfur as illustration, Bior said women and young girls were the most vulnerable ones because there are so many cases of rape incidents that the south should take as a living example to improve the conditions in the country.
South Sudan, whose population are predominantly either Christian or have traditional African beliefs split from the Islamic dominated North Sudan last month.
The split was the culmination of a six year long peace deal that ended decades of civil war. One of the triggers for Sudan’s second North-South civil war was Khartoum’s enforcement of Islamic Shari’a Law across the whole of Sudan.
South Sudan’s secular constitution contrasts with the Islamic law which continues to rule North Sudan.
SPLM officials asserted that Khartoum’s refusal to drop Shari’a Law and adopt a secular constitution was one of the reasons why South Sudan chose to opt for separation in January’s self determination referendum.