May 16, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudan president Salva Kiir on Friday reiterated his “moral obligation to end the six months” conflict and avoid “losing vision for the country”, which only achieved independence from Sudan in July 2011.
- SPLA generals attend the 31st anniversary of the formation of the rebel force in Juba on May 16, 2014 (ST)
Speaking at Dr. John Garang Mausoleum in Juba to mark 31 years since Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement (SPLA/M) was formed, Kiir said differences over leadership styles always characterised the ruling party and its armed wing since formation in 1983.
"There were many challenges from the efforts and resistance against the successive regimes in Khartoum and as well as our internal difference and crisis within the SPLM/SPLA. Many lives were lost as a result of the noble struggle but within the course of the struggle itself, unjustifiable loses occurred among South Sudanese because of a brother fighting another brother,” he said.
“We must not lose vision of our country,” stressed Kiir adding that “I, as the president of South Sudan, have moral obligation to make sure that our people are saved.”
President Kiir said last week’s agreement with rebel leader Riek Machar “has shown a political road map for the negotiations so that political settlements are found.”
- A crowd watches as president Salva Kiir (not pictured) gives a speech at Dr. John Garang Mausoleum in Juba on May 16, 2014 (ST)
Kiir, who doubles as the commander in chief of the armed forces, dismissed suggestions made about interim government with rotating presidency by civil society and described it as a joke.
“And that political settlement will constitute the interim government for national unity. There are people who have already formed their interim governments, I don’t know where do they get those powers? Are they part of it?,” he said.
Kiir was commenting on a proposition made by the former Sudanese oil minister Lual Achuek Deng providing to establish a rotating presidency composed of five members during an interim period.
He said that the interim government will prepare the grounds for the national political dialogue conference which will include all the political forces and civil society groups.
The inclusive conference "will take place in this country so that we discuss political issues of governance, any reform that we want to make, permanent constitution and many other important national issues that are seen to be necessary.”
"Participants in this conference will not be only the government and the rebels", he further said adding that "It is something open to South Sudan".
Meanwhile, South Sudan’s vice president, James Wani Igga describe any government without president Kiir as a "violation of constitution" and not “workable".
“You must elect your president. Nobody, even in developed democracies, will have a president decided outside the country and imposed on you,” he said referring to proposals from western countries and mediators for the formation of an interim government without president Kiir.
Defence minister Kuol Manyang Juuk and the newly appointed chief of general staff Paul Malong Awan were some of the senior military officials who spoke at the occasion attended by thousands of people who braced the cloudy Juba weather.
WARRAP MARKS SPLA DAY
- Students take part in a parade marking SPLA day in Warrap state’s Kuacjok on 16 May 2014 (ST)
Thousands of Warrap state residents also gathered in the capital, Kuajok, to commemorate SPLA day held under the theme “No power by bullet, but by ballots.”
The acting governor, Akec Tong Aleu urged youth in the state to unite together and shun tribalism and sectionalism so as to allow peaceful co-existence in the country.
“Actions taken by sons of South Sudan who took arms against Khartoum was the right action to liberate the country and bringing independence country,” he said.
In a colourful celebration, group of traditional dancers and local musicians performed as part of collective calls for peace and tribal unity.
SPLA soldiers, police, traditional authorities, as well as various primary and secondary schools also took part in a parade to mark the occasion.
“We need peace and unity among the citizens, youth and government of Warrap state – your ability to love each another will produce a better South Sudan,” said Aleu during his address, which drew loud applause from the crowd.
- A man from the Jur Buongo performs in Warrap state’s Kuacjok on 16 May 2014 (ST)
Meanwhile, veteran fighter Muna Bang Dhel used the occasion to call on South Sudan’s leadership to take better care of widows and disabled people in the country, who he says continue to be overlooked by the government.
“The government must to prioritise widows, orphan and disabled people in their programs,” he said.
“Those groups are responsible for South Sudan’s independence ... they must be first in everything in South Sudan by giving them employment, education and health across the nation,” he added.
South Sudan descended to conflict in mid-December last year after soldiers loyal to former vice-president Machar fought government troops in Juba. The conflict later spread to Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity states where it is now largely confined.