S. Sudan’s Kiir downplays protests, vows peaceful polls

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has downplayed citizens’ demand for him to step down, urging the population to prepare for general elections at the end of the transition period.

"Our final mandate in this process is to hold free, fair and credible democratic elections at the end of the transitional period," he said, while opening the country’s national assembly on Monday.

Kiir was referring to long-awaited polls expected to be held in 2023.

The South Sudanese leaders told members of the new parliament to place the people of South Sudan above their party’s interests.

Kiir, looking exhausted, said those calling for his exit are “ill” advised.

One of the notable provisions in the revitalized peace agreement is the security arrangement that advocates reunification of command of forces as an institutional attempt to reform the army in a way reflecting all faces of ethnic groups and regions making up the country.

Kiir, however, wants a 60% representation in the command of the unified forces, leaving the remaining 40% to other stakeholders in the agreement, an arrangement the parties, including the main opposition party under Riek Machar’s leadership has rejected.

The stalemate has resulted in the delay to graduate troops from the cantonment sites and splitting in Opposition leadership.

Activists say the two leaders are unwilling to work together and will never work together even if they are allowed to stay in office for life. They are people with totally different political ambitions and ideologies with little interest in preserving greater good. Machar advocates democracy while Kiir oscillates between dictatorship and maintaining the status quo, causing brinkmanship and misery.

“These people [Kiir and Machar], even if they are allowed to stay together in power for life, which is what some of them want, and which is what others do not want because they also want to sit on that chair, they will never get together and work together. The only way is to force them out of the chair. They are a pure liability to the country”, a civil rights activist told Sudan Tribune on Monday.

“They were together in power for eight (8) years, what have they done to show that they prioritize the wellbeing of the people? They should just accept they have failed and go,” he added.

The activist said government is responsible for disruption of social media services and deployment of huge security forces to patrol all streets after calls for mass protests against bad governance.

“The continued intimidation and regular arrest of civil right activists, political opponents, and journalists is a clear and obvious proof of the government determined to stay in power”, he stressed.

Meanwhile, Stephan Lual Ngor, a leading member of the South Sudan Patriotic Movement (SSPM) has rejected calls to topple the transitional government and voiced his support for President Kiir.

"President Kiir is the best choice for peace and stability in South Sudan," he told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday, adding that a few numbers of youth-based outside the country and without real political support use social media to disturb the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement.

Source: Sudan Tribune

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