January 7, 2016 (JUBA) – South Sudanese president, Salva Kiir, has apologized to the people of the world’s youngest nation for dragging them into 21 months of war which erupted on 15 December 2013.
- South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir prepares to give his speech during the India Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi, India, Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015 (Photo AP/Bernat Armangue)
President Kiir made the rare apologetic remarks during a speech he delivered at the opening of the extraordinary convention of his faction’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), which convened in the national capital, Juba, on Thursday.
"I apologize on behalf of the SPLM to the people of South Sudan for the suffering they are going through as a result of war,” said president Kiir in his speech broadcasted on the state-run South Sudan Television (SSTV) on Thursday evening.
The head of state, whose bodyguards known as the Tiger Division who sparked the war and resulted to massacres of thousands of innocent civilians in Juba and in other states, said he also agreed that those responsible for the crimes committed in the deadly conflict must face justice.
"People will have to account for the crimes they have committed,” he said.
The African Union’s report on crimes committed during the war called for establishment of an hybrid court to try those who will be found responsible for gross human rights violations including war crimes and crimes against humanity during the war.
Kiir however called for reconciliation and forgiveness and for the factions of the SPLM, whose internal debates over reforms turned violent, to reunify as one organization.
General Taban Deng Gai, former elected governor of the oil rich Unity state and current chief negotiator for the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO) under the leadership of the former vice president, Riek Machar, appealed for relinquishing power to the younger generation.
"Comrades, I am appealing to you that we must leave power. We have to leave power and we must incorporate that into the SPLM constitution that we must retire at some point. We have to leave power to the younger people coming after us,” said Gai in a speech also delivered at the same event on Thursday.
Former cabinet affairs minister, Deng Alor Kuol, representing former detainees, also spoke at the event and reiterated calls to end the war and move the country forward through implementation of the peace agreement on the resolution of the conflict in the country.
NYANDENG SKIPS CONVENTION
Rebeca Nyandeng, wife of late John Garang de Mabior, founding leader of SPLM which split into three separate factions in 2013, decided not to attend the Thursday’s extraordinary convention of the party.
It was not clear why Nyandeng, popularly known in the country as mama Rebecca or mother of the nation, decided to keep away from attending the event.
Also as the three factions include SPLM in government, SPLM-IO and SPLM former detainees, it was not clear to which faction Nyandeng belonged.
She could have however participated in the convention in her capacity as a member of the political bureau, the highest executive body of the party.