Does South Sudan president lack message discipline?


Salva Kiir, the head of the Southern Sudan government, kicks a ball during the start of the Cecafa Under-17 Youth Cup soccer tournament in Juba. Photo/MOHAMMED AMIN

(Victoria, Canada NSV) - President Salva Kiir delivered his much publicized pro-secession call on Sunday but a senior government official is now reportedly trying to walk back Mr. Kiir’s statements, raising the issue of whether the Present lacks a coherent message.

Kiir told South Sudanese at a cathedral in Juba on Sunday it was their choice to vote for unity of Sudan and be second-class citizens or vote for an independent state and be free.

Paul Mayom Akech, minister of information and broadcasting and the spokesman for the autonomous government of southern Sudan said the media misquoted the president, whom he said was referencing a statement made by the late SPLM leader, Dr. John Garang, as Sudan Tribune reports.

Minister Mayom said what the president said was about the "right of the people of Southern Sudan to choose…and the right to vote…and to vote for the two options: confirming unity or secession."

The president’s remarks represent his party’s increasing disillusionment with the stalled implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended Africa’s longest civil war in 2005. The CPA promises southern Sudanese a referendum in 2011 on whether they will opt for a new Republic on the Nile or be part of the greater Sudan.

‘Fourth class citizens’

As expected, the National Congress Party, Mr. Kiir’s partner in the national government, jumped on the gaffe, labeling it as ‘backtracking’ on the landmark agreement. However, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, head of the Government of Southern Sudan Mission to the United States disagrees.

He told Voice of America yesterday Kiir was right in his call for secession.

"The president of Southern Sudan made a very excellent statement in the eyes of the people of Southern Sudan. That means if you go and vote for the unity of the country you will be even more than the second class citizen. But I would even add more by saying in Sudan, we are fourth class citizens we are not even the second," Gatkuoth said.

The news is certainly an unwelcome distraction as it comes shortly after SPLM parliamentarians and cabinet members walked out of the national unity government in a bid to press NCP to live up to its peace obligations.

The president’s comments could also be seen as a classic case of preaching to the choir as opinion poll samples show a solid support for separation among southern Sudanese.

In June, Kiir made another gaffe at the same cathedral in Juba where he disclosed to the congregation that he had secured Libya’s support for an independent southern Sudan, should southerners opt for secession.

Gaddafi later came out publicly for an independent southern Sudan but the statements caused a diplomatic nightmare.


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