Home | Comment & Analysis    Friday 6 April 2018

How Salva Kiir outmanoeuvred his opponents

By: Bol Garang Bol

Salva Kiir Mayardit, the incumbent President of South Sudan joined SPLM/SPLA as a low ranking officer in 1983 and promoted to 4th in command by Dr John Garang who for so long dominated and controlled the political and military leadership of SPLM/SPLA. Salva Kiir Mayardit who came from Akon village of Awan-Chan rose to prominence in the guerrilla struggle against Khartoum government. During the struggle, Salva Kiir was the most trusted man by John Garang. He was given security roles as a Director of security and tasked with security coordination. After the death of Dr John in helicopter crashed, Salva Kiir as Deputy Chairman to John Garang and with the help of CDR Kuol Manyang Juuk, now South Sudan Defence Minister, outmanoeuvred his political rivals to become Sudan 1st Vice President and President of the autonomous government of South Sudan. Immediately after the death of Dr John Garang de Mabior, the people of South Sudan put their trust in General Salva Kiir Mayardit leadership. Many believed Salva Kiir had been with Dr Garang for a long time and he had never been a part of rebellion waged against SPLM/SPLA leadership. During the struggle, Salva Kiir had succeeded in the Deputy- Chairman position where two of his predecessors had failed. The rebellion of William Nyuon Bendy Machar and Kerubino Kuanyin Bol paved the way for the promotion of General Salva Kiir who was then fourth in command according to SPLM/SPLA structure and have had been seen closer to John Garang. This promotion of Salva Kiir by Dr John Garang to the position of Deputy Chairman put him in the South Sudan presidency. Apart from numerous reasons, people trusted Salva as the only leader to follow Dr John Garang’s footsteps since those of Dr Lam and Dr Riek in connection with Nasir Declaration demonstrated that they had political differences with Dr John Garang. Salva Kiir was installed and was expected to execute SPLM vision of bringing Town to people and transformed the SPLM/SPLA from a military movement to a political party tasked with developing the country.

The SPLM main vision under Dr John Garang leadership was to fight for freedom, build school, hospitals and physical infrastructure. All these visions were documented in the SPLM MANIFESTO and it’s the responsibility of the SPLM leader to carry forward their vision. After the death of Dr John Garang de Mabior, Dr Riek or Dr Lam was to become Chairman of the SPLM bypassing Salva Kiir who had little education compared to his colleagues in the movement but there was this red-eyed powerful man in the movement, General Kuol Manyang, Mama Rebecca, late Lual Ding Wuol, they worked harder to make sure higher education qualifications shouldn’t be used as a requirement in electing Dr John Garang’s successor. They deployed political tactics of seniority as the only qualifications workable in identifying Garang successor. The tactics were mainly to get rid of both Dr Riek Machar and Dr Lam Akol who were viewed as possible contenders not to succeed late Garang. The SPLM seniors leaders installed Salva Kiir as the SPLM leader not knowing that Salva Kiir will turn South Sudan as a Country where all political and military power is in the hands of the single individual (himself) whose decision is unregulated. South Sudan now under Salva Kiir leadership became a society without laws. Absolutism system, where rulers have unlimited control is in place. If those who elected General Salva Kiir Mayardit to succeed Dr John Garang, 13 years from now since the death of John Garang, ask themselves whether they had made a right decision in elected Salva Kiir to the top position? They will all say no. Their choice, President Mayardit worked away from SPLM vision and chose to rule the Country through strong arm-tactics, including extra-judicial detentions of critics, suppression of the press and the use of security agents to silence dissents even within his own community. In political alignments, President Salva Kiir Mayardit is not a conservative nor liberal. His political ideologies are not communist nor socialism. His political leaning is not toward Western world nor the Middle East.

For President Kiir to correct his records, he must,

1. Establish a peaceful resolution to bring an end to conflicts in South Sudan.
2. Initiated parliamentary democracy by creating conducive atmosphere without political intimidation in order to give room for peace revitalization.
3. Abolished his notorious security organs and established National Security with the general outlook, not the one comprising single community members.

After 2011 election, President Kiir cemented his grip on power assumed the roles of head of state, Chairman of the SPLM and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces (SPLA). With all these massive of powers, President Salva Kiir still failed miserably in governing the country. In many speeches and interviews, he claimed to be a Democratically elected President, while condoning human rights violations, corruption, tribalism and ethnic cleansing under his orders. Kiir misused National Armed to fought tribalism wars, something unregulated in the SPLM constitution. A Democratic leader who knows Democratic values cannot directed his Army to burns towns into ashes killed patients in hospitals, murders civilians and oppressed his own people. History will highlight Salva Kiir’s achievements but there was no single achievements I know he had achieved since he took over the power in 2005. Few people talked about 2011 referendum as his achievement. Referendum according to my understanding is popular rights, not individual’s rights. The people of South Sudan came together and voted together to choose their destiny whether they want to remain part of Sudan or opted for their independent, South Sudan. The referendum is everybody achievements not for the single individual. You cannot claim majority rights as your achievement. Kiir’s government murdered Nuer in 2013 and 2015 in Juba, Malakal, Bentiu and this is not counted as an achievements but genocide. President Salva kiir might claim he had won the war in those battles of 2013 and 2015 but his actions is what Raphael Lemkin called cultural genocide. Killings of civilians and destruction of cultural properties is not a military victory but cultural genocide. South Sudan would have been better with Dr. Lam or Dr. Riek as a leader than President Salva Kiir. Majority of my Dinka people will not agree with me but facts must be said. Unless something happened by miracles, president Salva is not a solution to South Sudan problems.

The author can be reached at nicetobeme05@yahoo.com