Regional leaders boycott South Sudan independence celebration
July 8th, 2015(Nyamilepedia) — Latest updates from Juba, South Sudan, indicate that none of the regional leaders and presidents will be attending the South Sudan 4th independence celebration despite several invitations from the embattled president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, to his colleagues in the region.
The only president that is confirmed to attend, so far, is the Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, who is seen as a major player in South Sudanese politics, peace and conflict as a “close ally” to president Salva Kiir.
In addition to fighting the civil war alongside Salva Kiir forces yet participating in the IGAD led peace talks, Museveni is the only president in the region that has attended the last three independent anniversaries of the war-torn South Sudan.
Uganda provides ground troops and helicopters in return for payments from the regime in Juba.
To avoid sanctions and arms embargo, Juba has also contracted Kampala to purchase military equipments and technologies on behave of Salva Kiir’s administration.
Like in 2014, none of the IGAD and African Union heads of states and governments has been confirmed to be attending.
A leading Member of Parliament at the South Sudan National Assembly, who cannot be identified as he is not authorize to speak on such matters, says invitation letters where sent by high profile ministers including the foreign minister, Barnaba Benjamin Marial, but so far no president has positively responded.
“The letters where send since some month ago, even the Foreign minister has visited this countries and met those leaders, but they have not responded positively to the invitations” the lawmaker says with caution.
The Egyptian President, Abdul Fatah el Sessie, who was officially invited by President Salva Kiir as earlier as 2014 was the first to turn down the invitation, allegedly on grounds that he had more important issues to attend to back home, and would therefore attend the independence celebration “next time”.
Other African countries have delegated low profile officials, including their ministers of youth and sports as others designated their ambassadors to attend on their behaves.
“The African leaders think our president is not serious about peace, that could be one of the reasons why you see no leaders from the IGAD or the region have come here to our independence day, this is not normal” said the visibly shocked law maker.
Observers say Salva Kiir’s regime could have wanted regional Presidents to attend as a sign of endorsement for his government, but the lack of attendance from regional leaders could send a strong message to the embattled administration in Juba,
Analysts monitoring the situation say regional and international leaders might want to send a strong signal to South Sudan that they’re not comfortable or wishing to endorse the current regime of Salva Kiir.
Others believe that the main motive in undermining Salva Kiir’s invitation could be an attempt to push the troubled president to work for peace and stop the war instead of concentrating on ruling a divided failed state.
The Member of Parliament says some of the regional leaders are concerned about the security and humanitarian situation in the country.
Unexpectedly, Salva Kiir sworn himself in as a president on Wednesday morning just one day before the celebration for the country’s independence.
In April this year, the President instructed the parliament to extend his term in office without any elections and give him three more years without any democratic vote.
Since its independent in July 2011, South Sudan has never held legitimate elections but endorsed Salva Kiir to rule the country until this year  where elections were expected to have been held before the end of last month.