Seizing This Moment For Statesmanship By President Kiir
"It is high time for President Kiir to save all things. Mr. Kiir must not
let his country die. He must save life, deteriorating economy, and a
possible disintegration of the country into ethnic or regional enclaves."
20 September 2016 - Jacob Akol

 Seizing Statesmanship: Why President Kiir should Declare His Retirement
Now, But Not Quit yet.

 By Julius Nyambur*

(Gurtong):-Salva Kiir Mayardit, the current president of South Sudan - the
world’s youngest republic – is a man admired and loathed at equal measures.
His supporters staunchly believe he is an able leader. In contrast, his
rivals and their supporters think the president is insensitive to the
plight of the citizens.  But there is more to these explicit binaries,
particularly with regard to the prevalent crisis and future.

Five years after gaining independence from Sudan in a plebiscite referendum
in 2010, South Sudan is gripped by ethno-political civil war. Just two
years shy of celebrating her third anniversary, war broke out in the
capital, Juba, in 2013. The conflict has since killed nearly 50,000 people
and over 1.5 million displaced. Although the situation started as a
political tension within the ruling party, SPLM, the conflict fanned out as
an ethnic clash between the Dinka and the Nuer elements within the armed
forces, primarily due to uninstitutionalized and unprofessionalized army.

Progressively however the war has since gained traction as a quest for
political reforms. This latter moderation and presentation of the
fundamental issues as necessitating serious overhaul in critical
institutions has placed the president between a rock and a hard place. As
much as there is avowed internal resistance, regional, continental and
international tones do concur in the urgent need for reforms. This pressure
is being amplified by domestic opposition voices, civil and armed alike. It
will be wise to heed to those concerns. To rescue the country from total
fragmentation and from being a source of regional instability, the
president needs to demonstrate statesmanship.

That the nascent nation has succumbed to tragedies cannot be
overemphasized. In fact the country has fallen prey to two major
predictions: one is that countries that emerge from war have a tendency to
always recoil back to war; the other is that, once let alone, South
Sudanese would turn against each other. At any rate, those prophecies have
been coincidentally affirmed. The question now is: how can the fledgling
nation get out of the current mess?

In *His Life, Speeches and Writings (1893), from Notes on the Situation,*
Senator Benjamin H. Hill, Jr. is highly cited for his statement on the role
of a leader in saving his country. According to Benjamin, *“Who saves his
country, saves himself, saves all things, and all things saved do bless
him! Who lets his country die, lets all things die, dies himself ignobly,
and all things dying curse him!”*

It is high time for President Kiir to save all things. Mr. Kiir must not
let his country die. He must save life, deteriorating economy, and a
possible disintegration of the country into ethnic or regional enclaves.

Most critically, Mr. President must guard against yielding to parochial
appeals. In fact, as a former guerrilla commander who has seen and
experienced the worst of it all, Mr. Kiir’s ability to resolve problems did
withstood the test of time, and therefore many expected him to exercise
self-restraint in handling the current tragedies.

Why President Kiir’s pronouncements and actions, insofar as the
two-and-half year old civil war is concerned, are riddled with
inconsistencies and contradictions are indicative of deep-seated systemic
problems. There is a problem of grander scale in his new empire. That the
president has become hostage to hosts of competing interests is quite
apparent. It will be wise for the president to own up and bow out,
honorably. Whereas quitting in the middle of crisis is not noble, signaling
that he will not contest any forthcoming presidential election would
distinguish him as a statesman, setting him at par with continental leaders
such as Macky Sall of Senegal, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, among others.

There are five salient reasons why President Kiir should make clear his
intention to retire from active politics once the peace agreement
implementation gets underway.

*1.     * *Greatness and Legacy *

Greatness is when the leader exits the scene gracefully and with passion,
leaving the achievements intact. As a founding member of SPLA/M and the
state of South Sudan, Mr. Kiir has no doubt earned spot in the historical
records of the land and continent. Following Military victories against
various armed groups that sought to dislodge him by force since 2013,
President Kiir has cemented his leadership acumen.

Yet it is important to be cognizant that military conquests are not
permanent; they are temporary overtures toward an ultimate goal. That goal
should be a stable, peaceful, and progressive South Sudan.

As things stand now, majority of South Sudanese are hurting. They do not
feel safe and are starving. That they will wish to be under the same
leadership in another electoral cycle will be an underestimation of their
anger and frustration. That is why it is prudent that, while current
military victories are in his favor, the president should seize this
opportunity to declare his peaceful exit. This will help both calm down
high tempers across disillusioned citizens as well as securing his legacy.

*2.     **The Youth are Bitter *

Youth in South Sudan and abroad are very bitter about the state of affairs
in the country, which they overwhelmingly believe have been brought about
by the old guards. The olds, through gerontocracy, have surrounded,
shielded, misadvised, misled, and held the president hostage.

Worst, the old guards, by virtue of their various Councils of Elders, are
confirmed to be inconsiderate and divisive. They are obsessed with
decade-long personal and communal ambitions and grudges. Not least, all
these realities are compounded by the fact that the old guards are regarded
as semi-illiterate, not technologically savvy, and lack pace with rapid
global changes.

In contrast, the youth, despite their high level of modern education, view
themselves as victims of overt marginalization and tools for war. They feel
deprived. They are tired. Comes any election, they will vote Kiir out. In
fact, such grievances by the youth have been politely wrapped up in what
one South Sudanese political analyst, Peter Biar, calls “Generational

*3.     **Ethnic and Regional Animosity  *

Whether there will be elections in 2018 or not, one thing is crystal clear:
The next president of South Sudan will inherit a plethora of complex
problems, among them a highly polarized society. The South Sudanese people
have never been so politically and ethnically divided in the past as they
are now. Besides tribal tensions across groups, there is an additional,
potent threat entrenched in the regional configuration.

Historically South Sudan is divided into three main regions, namely
Equatoria, Upper Nile, and Bhar el Ghazal. Each of these geographical
regions is ethnically diverse, which somehow inadvertently impeded
groupthink, ethnic cleavages, and hegemonic contention. These dynamics have
been provoked and intentionally altered. And the consequences are not only
detestable, but are ominous.

Ominous in the sense that the arbitrary creation of new states and counties
have caused newer disputes and deadly conflicts. For some communities,
sustaining or reversing the 28 states declaration is a matter of life or
death. Either way, the penalty is huge for a candidate Kiir. Moreover, and
this is if the war continues under President Kiir, there is the likelihood
of Upper Nile, Western Bhar el Ghazal, and Equatoria opting out of a one,
uniculturally-seeking, South Sudan.

*4.     **IDPs, PoCs, and Refuges*

The fourth reason rests on affected civil populations. There are tens of
thousands internally displaced populations either in PoCs or sheltering in
towns, churches, mosques, schools, or vocational centers due to insecurity
and starvation. There are further more than three millions new influx of
refugees into the neighboring countries of Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, and
Uganda. The agony and hatred these affected people have developed towards
the president is just too deep. No candidate can run against such backdrop
and still wins.

As Machiavelli advises, “*Princes must avoid making themselves hated and
despised; the goodwill of the people is a better defense than any fortress*.”
It is clear the president has lost this fortress. His only defense now is
the military and a chunk of some loyalists. That is not enough to keep him
in power for long. Nor will this win him an election.

*5.     **Regional and International Frustration *

As a new country South Sudan depends largely on regional and international
goodwill. Besides donors’ funds, the country also imports teachers,
technical skills, food and other essential goods and services from
neighboring East African nations. Naturally, such dependability should
necessitate fluid and reliable partnership.

Unfortunately, and under Kiir leadership, there have been puzzling trends
and instances where the government extended the domestic, rule-ignoring
attitudes toward dealing with regional and international institutions. The
Juba loose talks and posturing has been received with frustration.

South Sudan, as a player and new member of the club, must be well
disciplined in order to win the confidence of the club members. In *As You
Like It*, William Shakespeare (1564-1616) casts one Bard of Avon as a wise
political commentator as well as a literary giant.

To wit: “All the world’s a stage.” “And all the men and women are merely
players.” These lines are dramatic portrayal of how politics, whether
domestically or globally, operates. Kiir and his spokespersons have
antagonized regional and international supporters. Absent such cordial
rapport, productive interaction with partners will continue to dwindle.
This is not helpful for a landlocked, nascent state. Perhaps there is
certainly and urgently need for diplomatic approach under new leadership.

Given the relative calm in Juba, a functioning parliament, and given that
Kiir’s supporters see Kiir’s archrival, Dr. Riek Machar, as having been
militarily and politically liquidated, Mr. Kiir should seize the euphoric
mood to highlight his milestones from liberation to independence and
defeating his biggest threat.

Telling his supporters that he has done his best and henceforth would
prefer someone else to carry on with the rest of the journey will speak
volume and earn him a glorious send off, landing him the honor of
statesmanship. He will be respected domestically and internationally for
showing true leadership. All he needs to do now is labeling the ground for
all potential contenders, assuring all citizens that he will be out of
political scene in 2018

**Julius Nyambur is a Nonviolence International Fellow. He is based in
Washington, DC.*

Posted in: Opinions
- See more at:

To post to this group, send email to
To unsubscribe from this group, send email to
Visit this group at
View this message at
For more options, visit
You received this message because you are subscribed to the Google Groups 
"South Sudan Info - The Kob" group.
To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email 
To post to this group, send email to
Visit this group at
To view this discussion on the web visit
For more options, visit

Reply via email to