Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Netanyahu deletes tweet featuring photo of James Foley

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 22 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 22 August 2014

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Read more

FOCUS

Lifting the veil over China's air pollution

Read more

ENCORE!

Tango Takeover in Paris

Read more

WEB NEWS

Calls for ISIS media blackout after execution of James Foley

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Steely resolve of reporters exploited by pared-down employers'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

US judge calls Argentina bond swap offer illegal

Read more

  • ‘European GPS’ satellites launched into wrong orbit

    Read more

  • Merkel in Kiev as aid convoy ‘returns to Russia’

    Read more

  • Suicide bomber targets Iraq intelligence HQ in deadly attack

    Read more

  • Video: Israel bombs kidnapping suspect’s home

    Read more

  • US brands journalist’s beheading a ‘terrorist attack’

    Read more

  • Ebola prompts Philippines to recall UN troops in Liberia

    Read more

  • Besieged by problems, Hollande faces unhappy return from summer holidays

    Read more

  • US sued over ‘deportation mill’ in New Mexico

    Read more

  • Colombian army and FARC rebels in face-to-face talks

    Read more

  • US National Guard starts to pull out of embattled Ferguson

    Read more

  • PSG fall flat once more against Evian

    Read more

  • US job market yet to recover from recession, says Fed Chair

    Read more

  • August 22, 1914: The bloodiest day in French military history

    Read more

  • Central African Republic announces coalition cabinet

    Read more

  • French firebrand leftist to quit party presidency, but not politics

    Read more

  • Fear of Ebola sky-high among Air France workers

    Read more

  • US says Islamic State threat 'beyond anything we've seen'

    Read more

  • Interactive: Relive the Liberation of Paris in WWII

    Read more

Africa

Will Salva Kiir lead an independent South Sudan?

Text by Joseph BAMAT

Latest update : 2010-12-24

Salva Kiir rose through the ranks of the southern rebel army to become Sudan’s vice president in 2005. But a January 2011 referendum could make the cowboy hat-wearing former soldier the first president of an independent South Sudan.

Salva Kiir Mayardit is the vice president of the Republic of Sudan and president of the already semi-autonomous Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS). He is also the chairman of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the commander-in-chief of the SPLM’s army, the SPLA.

But all those titles could be eclipsed if southern Sudanese voters choose to break with the north in a January 9, 2011 referendum.

If the poll is fair and is held on time, analysts say there is little doubt about the outcome: the South will vote to divide Africa’s largest country and Salva Kiir, once an ordinary rebel soldier, will become the president of the world’s youngest state.

Shadow of Garang

Kiir succeeded the famed late southern leader John Garang, who died in a helicopter accident in 2005, but has proven to be an altogether different figurehead.

November 2010. Southern Sudan President Salva Kiir (left) registers to vote for the January 9, 2011 referendum at the grave site of the former rebel leader and the south's first president, John Garang. ©AFP

Born in 1951, Kiir became involved in the armed struggle in the south at just 17. He rose though the ranks of the SPLA and joined its high command in 1983. A career soldier with no previous experience on the political and diplomatic front, he was thrust into the spotlight after Garang’s death.

The succession from Garang to Kiir, then chief of staff, was spelled out by the SPLA’s own rules, but nevertheless became the subject of internal controversy. It was the endorsement of Rebecca Garang, the late leader’s widow, which finally helped Kiir to the top post.

In contrast to the charismatic Garang –a US-trained economist who was known for his brilliant speaking-- Kiir earned the respect of soldiers through quiet diligence on the battlefront. He has earned the reputation of a humble, straight-talking statesman since he became the public face of South Sudan.

From leader to diplomat

Perhaps the most important difference is Kiir’s aspiration for an independent south. Where Garang espoused Sudan’s unity under peace and even projected himself as the future president of a new Sudan, Kiir never hid his interest in breaking with the government in Khartoum.

In the run-up to the referendum, Kiir has touted the official line dictated by the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, namely that both northern and southern Sudanese leaders should work to make unity attractive. But people who have followed Kiir’s ascension to prominence describe him as a separatist at heart.

Over the past few months, Kiir has become an emissary of the referendum cause, warning international leaders that efforts by Khartoum to stall or derail the promised poll would bring chaos and possibly reignite violence on a massive scale.

If he does become the president of a new South Sudan, diplomacy will remain a critical function of his job. Kiir has publicly recognised that the issues of oil revenue sharing, citizenship and land borders will continue to occupy the two sides.

Date created : 2010-12-24

  • SUDAN

    Festivities in south mark one-month countdown to referendum

    Read more

  • SUDAN

    Bashir vows to strengthen sharia law if south secedes

    Read more

  • SUDAN

    Voter registration extended for January independence vote

    Read more

COMMENT(S)