South Sudan strives to build democracy

By: Salva Kiir Mayardit

President Salva Kiir Mayardit of south Sudan

President Salva Kiir Mayardit of south Sudan

October 12, 2015 (Nyamilepedia)-–Just five years ago, as dawn unfolded on January 9, 2011, millions of South Sudanese took the final steps on our seventy-year journey to independence. By barge and bus, on animal and foot, we came from the four corners of our homeland and beyond to stand in long lines under a hard sun so that our voices would be heard.

And when the polling centers closed, the world did hear us. It heard our shouts of joy; it heard our thankful songs and quiet prayers. Above all, it heard the promise of an end to the crack of rifle and of the cry of mourning. Our bloody, terrifying struggle with the Sudanese regime in Khartoum had come mercifully to an end.

Now, however, came the difficult work of building our nation.

We knew instinctively that a nation was more than a border and a government, because for 70 years we had been shackled to something that was nothing more than a border and a government.

In our own country, we said, our government would act for us and not against. Never again could an official or favored group simply take from us on a whim. And never again would any of us be treated as lesser than any other.

It was our friends in the international community who helped shape those feelings into words. “Accountable, representative institutions;” “the Rule of Law;” “inalienable and equitable rights” – for many in South Sudan, the institutional vocabulary was new. But we all had known their meanings by their absence.

Five years later, we see how hollow those words can be in the outside world.

I recently signed an internationally brokered peace accord to end an insurrection against my government that has plagued us for almost half of our young nation’s life. I did not accede to this deal because it is perfect—indeed, the plan undermines the sovereignty and democratic institutions of our nation in key, unfortunate ways.

Most obviously, by installing representatives of breakaway factions in positions of equal power, it rewards insurrection and violence over persuasion and democracy—thereby conferring equal status on an elected representative government and a rebel faction, and cementing tribal and ethnic divisions that have kept too many nations from realizing peace or their full potential.

Then, too, there is the supra-national Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, to be headed by a foreigner and with absolute veto power over the decisions of the government—even if the parties forming the governing coalition are in agreement.

And with the ordered demilitarization of the capital city Juba and our state capitals, South Sudan’s territorial integrity is discarded – a risk made worse given our internal issues.

Of course we – the elected government – voiced our objections. We were told, however, to keep quiet.

From distant capitals came demands that we shred our constitution and the safeguards for the South Sudanese enshrined within it; that we disregard our popular elections and dismantle our representative bodies; that we replace rule of law with political expediency; that we adopt complex formulations of ethnic distribution amongst our elected and appointed leaders, and across our agencies.

Some of our international partners in peace even turned to threats and intimidations, both in public and private – sanctions, the withdrawal of aid and support, referrals to the International Criminal Court. The tools of democracy, prosperity and justice, now are used to bludgeon those same principles.

Some purported exporters of democratic reform seem to have forgotten that, in republics, changes of government are pursued peacefully and within the laws and structures of civil society – not by outside coercion or force. Or perhaps the mindset of inequality is not as dead as we had hoped.

Despite our misgivings, last month I committed our people, their nation and their government to the Compromise Peace Agreement. But let my reasons be clear: I did not sign the accord because of threats or intimidations.

I signed because leadership is the art of the possible and choosing between difficult, imperfect options. I signed because a government must lead. And as flawed and troubling as this agreement is, it may bring about the peacewe need in advance of our 2018 elections. Then our people will speak again.

Of course, implementing this agreement will face challenges and aspects will simply prove untenable. Our disagreements, after all, are very real, and the accord is that flawed. And when those challenges and flaws come, will the foreigners remember they themselves were the authors and architects of them? My hope is that we – the government, our former opposition, our people, and of course the international community – will tackle them together, collegially.

Peace will not be easy. It will take patience, compromise, and understanding. It will take resolve, determination and restraint. Now we must be a people who prize nationhood over narrow-mindedness; a people who know each other as countrymen and not by tribe or creed.

We are a people who, for generations, have only known war. But together the South Sudanese can work miracles. Our nation’s very existence shows it has happened before.

Foreign governments and unelected bodies will never revere the South Sudanese vote as we do because they did not sanctify it with their blood. They cannot treasure our sovereignty as we do because they did not suffer to establish. They will not cherish our freedom as we do because they did not taste our oppression. And they will not yearn for our future as we do because it is not their children and grandchildren who will inherit what too many sons and daughters died to create.

The words used so often in the marbled halls of long-established capitals still mean something to us. Perhaps that can be our gift of thanks to these partners: That the world’s youngest nation serves to reaffirm the vocabulary of democracy – and it’s meaning – throughout the world.

But first, we must be allowed to do so.

Mr. Kiir is the President of South Sudan.

9 comments

  • GatNor

    Mr. Tyrant General,

    I must argue that you know nothing about “the rule of law” incuding “inalienable and equitable right”

    How do you reconciled a statement urging the citizens to

    “now we must be people who prize natiohood over narrow-mindednrss”

    ..And illegally curbing up states along tribal boundaries isolating some and creating unnecessary technical domination of others in their own ancestral lands.

    Very well then, you have spoken to the Jaang populations and not all the citizens of South Sudan.

    You must be brought before the judge, the citizens and victims of your crimes against humanity to face justice. In another word “accountability” and all the quotes I found in your article.

    You are a unfortunate burden & a liability to the nation and you must go.

    • GatNor, what do you want salva to do it for you, if you don,t stop talking of Dinka,s name you will remain in exile forever. Salva Kirr will forgive you But DINKA at large will NEVER< NEVER forgive you. because you rebels never understand if I were KIIR I would have not sign peace.

  • The incompetent killer Kiir, tribal warlord, power-hungry-greedy, and chief planner-initiator-supervisor of the December 2013 Nuer genocide in Juba, naively still believe he is leading a “democratically elected government” without knowing that South Sudan, as a sovereign nation, never had any national general election. Can Killer Kiir, JCE(Dinka council of national resources looters), Killer Kiir’s kinsmen, blind supporters, and cohorts remind Gatdarwich of the YEAR, MONTH, AND DATE, South Sudan, as an internationally recognized sovereign nation, held national general election(democratically elected the incompetent Killer Kiir) ? By actually writing and posted this rubbish and fabricated article, the incompetent Killer Kiir indubitably confirm to Gatdarwich and many logical and reasonable individuals that he (the incompetent Killer Kiir) is the dumbest and the stupidest person ever held the post of presidency(become head of state) in the history of mankind period! The drunkard, confused, and incompetent Killer Kiir even forgot that he illegally leased the South Sudan’s National Sovereignty to Museveni in exchange for personal protection. what a traitorous fool!

    • BENY KIIR south sudan is yours, whoever do not want you to be leader, the door is open for him to go to heaven. why do they refused you when you brought them out from being servants/ slavers in sudan. during the struggle you were suffering in the bush they were all in khartoum with their FAKE leader Riek machar. now they want to enjoyed the blood of thousands of DINKA sons who dead in war.Riek Machar will NEVER be president of south sudan because he killed more than 50,000 innocent civilian in Bor in1991 and repeated again in Bor 2013 where he killed 30,000 innocent civilian in churches,Mosques and hospitals.
      Same thing in Malakal and Bentiu more than 780,000 were killed in churches,hospitals and mosques. all these will NOT NOT NOT allow him to lead south sudanese as their president believe me.

  • Thanks 2 copy machar democracy ur democracy is tribalism& alcohol

  • The incompetent, Dinka warlord, illegitimate president, traitor, power-hungry-greedy, and disgraced killer Kiir’s article is nothing more than a complete fraudulent misrepresentation of the current and deadly crisis he (killer Kiir) himself caused, planned, and implemented period.

  • Mark Tiger Lomu'ding

    Dear Gatdarwich,
    Thanks a Lot brother for your words that counterattacking the incompetence killer and/or Genocider Kiir for Past and Copy Articles which can be proved that is not coming from His Head which Misleading the people of South Sudan and the World. He Kiir will Never Ever Again and Again Lead the People of this Country whom He Killed Help of them and Now claiming to be campaigning as a Good Killer Leader to Continuously Killing and Enjoying During the Blood of the Death Bodies of our Fellow Citizens without shameful and/or fearful in hearing the killing of Innocence Children, Women, Adults and Age Man who have Nothing to do with Rebellions E.g. in Wonduruba, Mankaro, Mangele, Katigiri, Mondikolok and all Along up-to Jambo to deep Mundri Community as till Now they are in the Busies suffering for No Reason as are facing Severe Hunger strike. God will for surely Judge this Salve of Jaang in a very miserable way that He and His JCE plus Militias very Badly in which they will Never Ever Forget in their whole Lives when that Time comes for the Real Genocide to them.

  • Mark,

    Thanks for your acknowledgement and appreciation of facts in my writing. It should and must be our collective-patriotic duty to aggressively keep Killer Kiir and blind supporters(kinsmen) in check. Otherwise, our failure(procrastinating) to do so is for our own detriment! Killer Kiir, cohorts , and kinsmen(majority of them) are naturally born pathetic lairs, deceptive-manipulative, and will do anything to distort facts and steal credits from others (They have done so and are hell-bent to keep doing it ) period.

  • President Kiir know nothing about democracy in South Sudan and the article is not the own