August 28, 2014 (JUBA) – A South Sudanese rebel official on Thursday described president Salva Kiir as a “symbol of division”, claiming the latter’s presence in the interim administration would undermine meaningful democratic reforms and reconciliation.
- South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, addresses the media in Juba on 2 May 2013 (Photo: Reuters/Paul Banks)
“The mediation proposal which was signed by the IGAD heads of state and governments as the protocol for negotiation is shallow in its entirety. It does not address substantive issues. The mediators seem to be only interested in formation of government as a way to resolve the conflict. They simply do not want to mediate meaningful reforms. They are pushing it back to us, which is a recipe for future conflict,” said Ayii Ayii Akol, deputy head of humanitarian affairs committee with the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO).
Akol said South Sudan needed a new leader as it embarks on development in line with the aspirations of citizens who overwhelmingly voted for separation three years ago.
“There is potential of our country going Somali way, because we are already a polarised nation, with Salva Kiir being a big thorn in the eyes of our people. He is a big symbol of division. With him in the interim government, there would never be meaningful reforms, not even reconciliation. Because how you would reconcile these communities when the perpetuators would continue to loiter before the victims?” said Akol.
He said those who caused the split would continue to agitate for more division in the government.
“We should all be aware that there are dark forces behind Salva Kiir who want to see to it that tribal and regional hatred are planned in our society so that they can continue with business as usual. To restore peace and unity among our people, the best course of action is for Salva Kiir to relinquish power back to the people or else. And any true patriot and rational South Sudanese will tell you that the crimes committed are irreversible and in order for us to reconcile and heal, we need to open a new chapter with new leader in the name of comrade Dr. Riek Machar to lead us in to the future that many of us have been longing for,” the official said.
“We are collectively responsible for the future of our beloved country and we should never let few feel they own it,” he added.
Former South Sudan’s ambassador to the US, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, earlier told Voice of America (VOA) radio that Kiir was a “symbol of disunity”, insisting the South Sudanese leader does not enjoy any support from the majority of the population.
EXPERT WARNS AGAINST EXCLUDING RIVALS
Earlier this month, a local think tank warned that any transitional government formed without the involvement of South Sudan’s two rival leaders may be unsustainable.
“The international community may be tempted to join the call for the exclusion of both President [Salva] Kiir and Riek Machar from a transitional government. This is indeed an enticing proposition since both leaders are seen to be the cause of the current crisis. However, this is actually a trap that the international community should steer away from,” the Sudd Institute stated in its 19-page report.
“The proposition is impractical because these leaders hold the key to permanent peace in South Sudan because they have got the constituencies,” it added.
The group also warned of a possible outbreak of violence similar to what caused last year’s outbreak of chaos, saying both president Kiir and rebel leader Machar were very prominent leaders in their respective constituencies.