Salva Kiir Mayardit

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Salva Kiir Mayardit
Salva Kiir Mayardit.jpg
President of South Sudan
Assumed office
9 July 2011
Vice President Riek Machar
James Wani Igga
Preceded by Position established (Omar al-Bashir as President of Sudan and Himself President of Southern Sudan)
President of Southern Sudan
In office
30 July 2005 – 9 July 2011
Acting: 30 July 2005 – 11 August 2005
Vice President Riek Machar
Preceded by John Garang
Succeeded by Position abolished
First Vice President of Sudan
In office
11 August 2005 – 9 July 2011
President Omar al-Bashir
Preceded by John Garang
Succeeded by Ali Osman Taha
Vice President of Southern Sudan
In office
9 July 2005 – 11 August 2005
President John Garang
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Riek Machar
Personal details
Born (1951-09-13) September 13, 1951 (age 64)
Bahr el Ghazal, Sudan
(now South Sudan)
Political party Sudan People's Liberation Movement
Religion Roman Catholicism[1]

Salva Kiir Mayardit (born 13 September 1951) is a South Sudanese politician who has been President of South Sudan since its independence in 2011. Prior to independence, he was President of the Government of Southern Sudan, as well as First Vice President of Sudan, from 2005 to 2011.

Sudanese civil wars[edit]

Salva Kiir Mayardit in military uniform

In the late 1960s, Kiir joined the Anyanya battalion in the First Sudanese Civil War. By the time of the 1972 Addis Ababa Agreement, he was a low-ranking officer.[2] In 1983, when Dr John Garang joined an army mutiny he had been sent to put down, Kiir and other Southern leaders joined the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) in the second civil war. Dr. Garang De Mabior had advanced military knowledge and experience from both the United States and the Sudan. President Kiir was his Deputy.[3] Kiir eventually rose to head the SPLA, the SPLM's military wing when Dr. John Garang was killed in a helicopter crash. Rumours to remove Kiir from his post as SPLA Chief of Staff in 2004 nearly caused the organization to split.[2]

South Sudanese politics[edit]

Following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement formally ending the war in January 2005, Dr. John Garang was sworn in as the Vice President of the Republic of Sudan. After the death of Dr. John Garang in a helicopter crash on 30 July 2005, Kiir was chosen to succeed to the post of First Vice President of Sudan and President of Southern Sudan. Before independence, Kiir was popular among the military wing of the SPLA/M for his loyalty to the vision of the SPLA/M throughout the liberation struggle and among those who do not trust the successive governments that have come and gone in the Sudan.[2]

Comments by Kiir in October 2009 that the forthcoming independence referendum was a choice between being "a second class in your own country" or "a free person in your independent state" were expected to further strain political tensions.[4] Reports in January 2010 that Kiir would not contest April elections for Sudanese president, but would focus on re-election as president of Southern Sudan were interpreted to mean that the SPLM priority was independence.[5]

Kiir was re-elected with 93% of the vote in the 2010 Sudanese election. Although the vote on both the national and sub-national level was criticized by democratic activists and international observers, the overwhelming margin of Kiir's re-election was noted by some media as being "Step One" in the process of secession.[6] Following his re-election, Omar al-Bashir reappointed Kiir as the First Vice President of Sudan in accordance with the interim constitution.[7]


Omar al-Bashir (R), the president of Sudan, watches a ceremony celebrating the birth of South Sudan with Salva Kiir Mayardit, the former commander of the rebels who fought Bashir and now the president of the world's newest nation.

South Sudanese voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence from Sudan in January 2011, with 98.83% of voters reportedly preferring to split from the North.[8] On 9 July 2011, South Sudan became an independent state, with Kiir as its first president. Kiir positioned himself as a reformer, using his inaugural address to call for the South Sudanese people "to forgive, though we shall not forget" perceived injustices at the hands of the northern Sudanese over the preceding decades[9] and announce a general amnesty for South Sudanese groups that had warred against the SPLM in the past.[10] A few weeks later, he publicly addressed members of the military and police to warn them that rape, torture, and other human rights violations carried out by armed personnel would be considered criminal acts and prosecuted aggressively by the Ministry of Justice.[11] His presidency was characterized as a period of reconstruction, with internal and foreign crises, as Heglig Crisis, which caused a border war with Sudan and an internal political crisis, which tried to overthrow him from the presidency.

Domestic policy[edit]

On 18 June 2013, Kiir issued an order lifting the immunity of two ministers in the national government pending investigations into an alleged corruption case in which they appeared to be implicated. He also issued an order suspending Cabinet Affairs Minister Deng Alor Kuol and Finance Minister Kosti Manibe Ngai from their duties during the entire duration of the probe. In July 2013, Kiir sacked his entire cabinet, including his vice president, Riek Machar, ostensibly to reduce the size of government. However, Machar said that it was a step towards dictatorship and that he would challenge Kiir for the presidency.[12] He also dismissed Taban Deng Gai as Governor of Unity State.

Kiir told Radio Netherlands Worldwide that homosexuality is not in the "character" of Southern Sudanese people. "It is not even something that anybody can talk about here in southern Sudan in particular. It is not there and if anybody wants to import or to export it to Sudan, it will not get the support and it will always be condemned by everybody," he said. He then went on the refer to homosexuality as a "mental disease" and a "bastion of Western immorality" [13]

Consolidation of power[edit]

After rumors about a planned coup surfaced in Juba in late 2012, Kiir began reorganizing the senior leadership of his government, party and military on an unprecedented scale. In January 2013, he replaced the inspector general of the national police service with a lieutenant from the army, and dismissed six deputy chiefs of staff and 29 major generals in the army. In February 2013 Kiir retired an additional 117 army generals but this was viewed as troublesome in regards to a power grab by others. Kiir had also suggested that his rivals were trying to revive the rifts that had provoked infighting in the 1990s.

Foreign policy[edit]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with President Kiir, May 26, 2013

In mid-October 2011, Kiir announced South Sudan had applied for accession to the East African Community. He declared the EAC to be "at the centre of our hearts" due to its members' support of the South during the Sudanese civil wars.[14]

On 20 December 2011, Kiir visited Israel to thank it for its support during the First Sudanese Civil War in 1956–1972,[15] and met with Israeli president Shimon Peres to discuss establishing an embassy in Jerusalem, which would make South Sudan the only country to have one in that city.[16]

After the outbreak of the South Sudanese civil war, Salva Kiir delivered a speech in January 2014 lashing out at the United Nations and “so-called humanitarian organizations,” accusing them of supporting Riek Machar to try to overthrow him. He accused the UN of sheltering his enemies on their bases adding, “There is a problem with the international community, and it is something that people will have to thrash out with them.”[17]

In March 2014, Kiir's government organized a rally accusing the United Nations of colluding with anti-government forces. Protesters carried signs accusing the UN of arming anti-government forces.[18]

Relations between Kiir's government and some erstwhile supporters deteriorated since the start of the civil war. He disclosed in an op-ed published in his name in the Washington Times in October 2015 that unnamed "international partners in peace" had threatened his government with sanctions, the withdrawal of aid support, and referrals to the International Criminal Court.[19]

Heglig crisis and war with Sudan[edit]

On 26 March 2012, the South Sudanese army attacked the Heglig oilfield, which is known also to the Dinka of the Unity state as Panthou a Dinka word for Heglig in Arabic, located between the border of the Sudanese state of South Kordofan and the South Sudanese state of Unity, triggering the Heglig Crisis. On 27 September, Kiir met Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and signed eight agreements in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which led the way to resume important oil exports and create a 10-kilometre (6 mi) demilitarised zone along their border. The agreements allow for the return of 56,000,000 litres (350,000 barrels) of South Sudanese oil to the world market. In addition, the agreements include an understanding of the parameters to follow in regards to demarcating their border, an economic cooperation agreement and a deal to protect each other's citizens. Certain issues remain unsolved and future talks are scheduled to resolve them.

On 25 November 2012, South Sudan launched a formal complaint to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) against Sudan in the wake of aerial bombings carried out by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in parts of South Sudan's northern Bahr el Ghazal state, killing at least eight people and injuring an equal number. South Sudan treated the attack as a gross violation of the cooperation agreement the two country's leaders signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 27 September.[20]

Political crisis[edit]

Tensions rose between Kiir and his former vice president Riek Machar in December 2013 in the lead-up to a meeting of the National Liberation Council (NLC) of the ruling SPLM party. After two days of NLC meetings, on the night of 15 December 2013 shooting erupted within Salva Kiir's Presidential Guards. The next day, Kiir denounced Machar and other senior SPLM officials for staging a failed coup against his government, a claim later denied by Machar and others. These events marked the start of the South Sudanese Civil War.[21]

Controversy of alleged marriage to daughter of William Nyuon[edit]

In politically charged social issues, it has been claimed that President Kiir secretly married the daughter of his former comrade William Nyuon Bany, who was from the Nuer ethnic group. It is alleged the ceremony was conducted by his brothers according Dinka culture. This led to a strife between the eldest daughter of Salva Kiir and Aluel William Nyuon Bany.[22] President Kiir has not publicly commented on this alleged marriage. The story continues to escalate with the subsequent in Kenya media that "Kiir's in-laws" requesting privacy.[23]

Assassination Plot[edit]

According to a Saudi Arabian diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks in June 2015, the Saudi Arabian embassy in Khartoum had previously alerted the Saudi government of an assassination plot against President Kiir by members of the Egyptian and Sudanese intelligence agencies.[24]

Business interests[edit]

Kiir is reported to be the owner or part-owner of ABMC Thai-South Sudan Construction Company Limited. According to a report by Radio Tamazuj, however, Kiir's shares are not held directly but may be concealed in the name of a close associate. Ties between Kiir and the company were denied by Kiir's spokesman Ateny Wek. The company was awarded at least $161 million in government roads contracts.[25] The president's wife previously held shares in Yanyyom Mineral Water and Beverage Factory located in Juba. The factory took its name from Lake Yanyyom, located near the president's hometown Akon in Warrap State. Another owner of the factory was Garang Deng Aguer, a business magnate and former Governor of Northern Bahr al Ghazal State.[26]


  1. ^ Sheikholeslami, Ali (January 1, 2011). "Who Is Salva Kiir?". 
  2. ^ a b c "Profile: Salva Kiir". BBC News. 2 August 2005. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  3. ^ Johnson, Douglas H. (2003). The Root Causes of Sudan's Civil Wars. Indiana University Press. p. 66. ISBN 0-253-21584-6. 
  4. ^ "S. Sudan president makes first call for independence". Reuters. 31 October 2009. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  5. ^ "Sudan would accept separation, says President Bashir". BBC News. 19 January 2010. Retrieved 26 January 2010. 
  6. ^ Gettleman, Jeffrey (April 26, 2010). "Bashir Wins Election as Sudan Edges Toward Split". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ "Salva Kiir and Ali Osman appointed deputies of Sudan’s President". Sudan Tribune. 29 May 2010. 
  8. ^ "Over 99 Percent in Southern Sudan Vote for Secession". FOX News. 30 January 2011. Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  9. ^ "South Sudan: Salva Kiir Calls for Forgiveness As South Gains Independence". 9 July 2011. Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  10. ^ "Salva Kiir takes oath, grants amnesty to rebels". Sudan Tribune. 9 July 2011. Retrieved 25 August 2011. 
  11. ^ Wadu, Waakhe Simon (1 August 2011). "Salva Kiir Warns Armed South Sudan Forces Over Human Rights Abuse". Oye! Times. Retrieved 18 August 2011. 
  12. ^ "South Sudan gripped by power struggle - Africa". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 2014-01-21. 
  13. ^ "South Sudan President Condemns Homosexuality". African Activist News. 
  14. ^ "South Sudan readies for EAC membership which was later rejected". 2011-10-17. Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  15. ^ "Al Arabiya, 12/20/2011". Retrieved 2014-01-21. 
  16. ^ Daniel Pipes. "South Sudan, Israel's New Ally". Daniel Pipes. Retrieved 2014-01-21. 
  17. ^, retrieved 2015-10-15  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. ^ Rwakaringi, Mugume Davis (2014-03-14). "South Sudan Peace Protesters Rail Against UN". Voice of America. Retrieved 2015-10-15. 
  19. ^ Kiir Mayardit, Salva (2015-10-11). "South Sudan: the world's youngest nation strives to build democracy". Washington Times. Retrieved 2015-10-16. 
  20. ^ 25 November 2012 (2012-11-25). "South Sudan: Juba to File Complaint to UN Security Council Over Khartoum Aggression". Retrieved 2014-01-21. 
  21. ^ "It wasn’t a coup: Salva Kiir shot himself in the foot", South Sudan nation, retrieved 2015-11-12 
  22. ^ The Nairobian. "Battles rock Salva Kiir family in Nairobi". Standard Media Group. Retrieved 2014-04-16. 
  23. ^ The Nairobian. ""Our family life is private" Kiirs in-law says". Standard Media. Retrieved 2014-04-21. 
  24. ^ Sudan Tribune. "Egyptian intelligence coordinated with Khartoum to assassinate South Sudan's Kiir: cable". Sudan Tribune. Retrieved 20 June 2015. 
  25. ^ Radio Tamazuj (2015-06-16). "Special investigation: President Kiir linked to multi-million dollar roads contracts". Retrieved 2015-10-15. 
  26. ^ Radio Tamazuj (2015-06-24). "Special investigation: Kiir did business with ex-NCP governor". Retrieved 2015-10-15. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
New office Vice President of Southern Sudan
Succeeded by
Riek Machar
Preceded by
John Garang
President of Southern Sudan
Position abolished
First Vice President of Sudan
Succeeded by
Ali Osman Taha
New office President of South Sudan