The Rise and Rise of President Salva Kiir Mayaardit

Posted: August 28, 2018 by aljokd in Junub Sudan, Malith Alier, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Malith Alier, Perth, Australia

President Kiir's speeches after independence

Salva Kiir Mayaardit: The Joshua of South Sudan. Grab your copy at

Tuesday, August 28, 2018 (PW) – This piece is neither a biography, critique or praise of Salva Kiir and his regime. We’re aware that there are attempts by certain individuals to author a biography of President Kiir unilaterally. This piece is a common man’s view that only narrates the path Kiir negotiated to the top of the SPLM/SPLA and therefore to that of the country called South Sudan.

The man, fondly referred to as Joshua by his ardent followers takes us to the Biblical times when Moses, the leader who led Israelites out of Egypt went over the mountain not to return to taste the fruits of the promised land. Moses and Joshua story is found in the old testament of the Holy Bible and is used by Christians to illustrate stories similar in nature such as the one of Southern Sudanese.

History tells us that when the dissident southern soldiers rebelled in 1983, Salva Kiir was a mere captain in the Sudanese army. Stationed in Malakal, Upper Nile, he was an intelligence officer who tasked to report to the military headquarters subversive activity in the South.

Salva Kiir was not among the high-ranking officers who founded the SPLA in Bilpam in the same year. However, in the new movement, Salva Kiir became number four on the Politico-military High Command (PMHC) of the guerrilla insurgency.

According to the Liberator Magazine, July 2011, Issue 0009, Volume 2, the top Politico-Military High Command hierarchy was as follows:

1. Colonel John Garang de Mabior– Chairman of SPLM and Commander in Chief of the SPLA
2. Major Kerubino Kuanyin Bol – Deputy Chairman of the SPLM and Deputy Commander in Chief of the SPLA
3. Captain William Nyuon Bany – Deputy Commander in Chief and Chief of Staff of the SPLA
4. Captain Salva Kiir Mayardit – Chief of Security of the SPLA
5. Major Arok Thon Arok – Chief of Administration

The newly founded rebellion was a quasi-political organisation to fight for the botched Southern Sudan ambition for autonomy or full independence from the dominant North. It was more of a military formation as seen by the composition of the top brass and the exclusion of former regional politicians. They exclusively assume both the military and political aspects of the movement.

The above military men also outmanoeuvred a group of former Southern Sudan High Executive Council members who were already active on the ground.

Samuel Gai Tut and Akuot Atem de Mayen, a group of separatist Southern nationalists was forced out from the founding processes and became a pariah to the movement. These politicians were active in the Anya-Nya I &II movement, the predecessor of the SPLA/SPLM.

The departure and bundling out of Akuot’s group cleared the first obstacle to the military men to have their way and direction from the new organisation forever.

With the help and full support of the Mengistu Dergue communist regime, the SPLM/SPLA was born to fight for the liberation of Sudan as a whole. John Garang, the astute Southern nationalist predicted that the separatist ideology will not win support from Ethiopia which was fighting rebels of its own. Second, the separatist mantra did not win the Any-Nya I the support it badly needed from the region and beyond due to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now African Union (AU) Charter that states that national borders should remain as of independence from colonial powers.

The military men without delay embarked on their mission as soon as they got significant initial military boost purportedly from Libya.

104/105, Jamus, Tiger and Timsah were the first battalions headed by Willian, Kerubino, Salva and Arok respectively. The military men ruthlessly carried out the movement’s agenda devoid of former politicians.

Some wise guys joked or rightly warned that brainy people joined the military at their own peril. They predicted that former politicians or general intelligentsia will be “spoiled” by the new power in the bush. The Khartoum regime was also rumoured to have assured it people that Southerners were going to discipline themselves in the bush and they would return in a similar fashion to that of 1972.

These predictions turned out to be fulfilled. The few politicians who joined were suppressed and some of them ended up going back to Khartoum or having been killed while some were incarcerated for many years on end.

That did not end there. Soon, the Politico-Military High Command started to eat itself within when the going got tough. The movement was slipping away on John’s palms. The rebellion within rebellion became the norm rather than exception. William Nyuon, Kerubino Kuanyin and Arok Thon rebelled hence paving the way for Salva Kiir to become John Garang’s deputy up to the time of inking the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005.

No sooner had the SPLM/SPLA rebels joined the government to form the government of National Unity (GoNU), then tragedy struck taking away Moses and therefore, paving the way for Joshua to claim the mantle of power over the party and the army.

Luckily however, the children of Cush had reached the promised land because without the steady hand of John Garang, no one would imagine the nightmare that would have occurred while still in the wilderness.

Salva Kiir is the Teflon man in South Sudan politics wielding presidential decrees over the government in Juba since 2005. He recently scored another victory over the armed opposition in a new peace agreement that will see him maintaining his unchecked power for another three years leading to elections in 2021.

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.

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