July 17, 2014 (WAU) – South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, has called for swift reconciliation across the country at a public address to thousands of residents in the Western Bahr el Ghazal state capital, Wau, on Wednesday.
- South Sudanese president Salva Kiir (R) with the governor of Western Bahr el Ghazal state, Rizik Zackaria Hassan, wave to the crowd from the back of a car during a visit to the capital, Wau, on 16 July 2014 (ST)
“We are not for war. We want peace and reconciliation to prevail among ourselves as one nation with one people,” he told the assembled crowd in Wau’s main square.
“I am the president of the Republic of South Sudan, I do not want my people to continue dying day and night,” he added.
Conflict has raged in South Sudan for more than seven months following a political split in the ruling SPLM erupted in violence in mid-December last year, triggering tribal tensions across the country.
The fighting has pitted government forces loyal to Kiir, a Dinka, against rebel forces aligned with former vice-president Riek Machar who is of Nuer ethnicity.
Both sides have been accused of human rights abuses and ethnically motivated violence.
NOT IN MY NAME
During his speech, Kiir appealed for calm, warning against killings and acts of aggression based on tribe.
“No one should kill Nuer people. If you really support me, do not kill them in my name. If you do that, you are killing me because you are all my people,” he said.
The president also denied that his government was responsible for targeted ethnic killings of Nuer civilians during the conflict, citing the “massive killing” carried out by pro-Machar rebel forces against ethnic Dinkas in Bor, Bentiu, and Malakal, the respective capital of Jonglei. Unity and Upper Nile states.
“I did not kill any Nuer men. Those Nuer who have died were killed in their rebellion action against the national government, while [the] army defends the national constitution,” he said, calling on South Sudanese to “open a new page for peace and reconciliation”.
- South South Sudanese president Salva Kiir is surrounded by heavy security during a visit to Western Bahr el Ghazal capital Wau on 16 July 2014 (ST)
Kiir also applauded the efforts on Wau people in maintaining peace and stability in the state, saying Western Bahr el Ghazal stood as an example for the rest of South Sudan.
Kiir also used his speech to reiterate his stance that no interim government would be formed without him and the national assembly.
“There is no way for the interim government without me and the national assembly members, the very people who worked along[side] making the national constitution and who were elected with me in 2010,” said Kiir.
President Kiir blamed Machar for creating political uncertainty, saying he should have waited until the next elections to contest the presidency if he was certain of winning.
“Dr Riek [has] since acknowledged his unpopularity to [the] SPLM ruling party, knowing that the party would not nominate him for the post of candidacy or the party’s chairmanship due to his attitude within the party,” said Kiir.
Meanwhile, Kiir expressed disappointment at international sanctions imposed by the US and EU on individual members of the government and rebel faction.
He also expressed his regret at the decision by some of South Sudan’s international partners to withdraw support for development projects, but added nothing would stop the young nation moving forward.