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Thursday, January 12, 2017

IT'S TIME FOR PRESIDENT KIIR TO CALL IT QUIT


South Sudanese president
Given the fact that nothing has changed for the last ten years in terms of development, social cohesion and service provision, I think it’s time for President Kiir to call it quit. This is undoubtedly the best course of action to take. While I understand that the president hopes to leave behind a good, lasting legacy, it sure seems that such a legacy will not be forthcoming. There’s absolutely no indication that President Kiir will change the country for better. This results from the incongruence between the president’s words and his actions. The president has, in some occasions, uttered nationally helpful words but does the wrong thing.

However, we need to remember that President Kiir has one enduring achievement that will remain in historical books forever. This is the 2011 referendum and succession of South Sudan. While Dr. John was the architect of the process leading to succession of South Sudan through his negotiation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), it’s President Kiir who actually made sure that it materialized. National Congress Party (NCP) of President Beshir of Sudan--formerly National Islamic Front (NIF)--were vent on killing the referendum.

Another possible good legacy of President Kiir would be his peaceful transfer of power. This would ensure that he goes down in history as one of the few African leaders who’ve peacefully handed over power to a successor. No doubt, this is only possible if President Kiir perceives leadership as geared towards the interest of the people of South Sudan not leadership for its own sake. Essentially, African leaders talk of leadership 'in the service of the people' but most African leaderships are set up  against the interest of the people.


These two realities would go down in history as President Kiir’s greatest achievements. But isn’t this mere utopianism? Isn’t this wishful thinking? Most likely! And not everyone would like this message.

However, I should remind readers that President Kiir has always been projected as a humble man and leader. His humility, sadly, has been appropriated for very destructive purposes. But isn’t it time for the president to show an iota of care? This is only possible if he ever cared at all! But handing over power to someone he chooses wouldn’t be so scary to the president and this trusted inner circle. It’s possible for the president to call his party, SPLM, to meet and name a successor. This is very imperative!

But some people would that if a leader the president chooses becomes president, then the status quo would remain. True! And I agree with that sentiment. However, a change in leadership would change the national psychology. Even if it might not lead, necessarily, to fundamental change and peace, it would still send a signal that the leadership was handed over peacefully and that such a peaceful political and democratic culture would continue.

Violent removal of leaders creates unbecoming and dangerous precedents. A leader who ascends to power by force is most likely to leave power by force. A culture of military conflicts isn’t good for the national health. Besides, a sudden change in leadership without any clear successor creates a political vacuum and power struggle. This is why it’s crucial for the president to choose his own successor before the elections.

I’m therefore calling on the president to consider leaving power after having secured a successor he’s comfortable with. While this might not amount to change in terms of systemic problems facing the country, it would be CHANGE nonetheless.

President Kiir is not only a veteran of the SPLA liberation war, he’ll go down in history as the one who withstood NCP bullying in order to ensure the success of the referendum and the succession of South Sudan. A peaceful transfer of power, as I said earlier, would be another milestone achievement.

The President is also getting old and in ill-health. It’s time for him to go and rest. Let someone else lead with different lenses. This might not be fundamentally different lenses but that'll be different lenses nonetheless.