BBC (Dec 2013) about Mr President of South-Sudan, Salva Kiir

April 23, 2014

—“Mr Kiir is not a natural public speaker either, but he knows how to work the crowds and is greeted with cheers and popular affection when he speaks at rallies.

A committed Christian, he regularly speaks at the Roman Catholic cathedral in Juba, the capital.

Salva Kiir timeline

Map locator
  • 1960s: First joined southern rebellion
  • 1983: Founder member of SPLM
  • 1990s: SPLM military leader
  • 2005: Southern leader and national vice-president
  • 2010: Elected president of the region of Southern Sudan
  • 9 July 2011: Becomes president of newly independent South Sudan

Mr Kiir was born in 1951 in north-western South Sudan and first joined the southern rebellion in the late 1960s.

By the time President Jaafar Numeiri made peace with the rebels in 1972, Mr Kiir had become a low-ranking officer. With the accord in place, he joined the Sudanese army.

In 1983 the southern rebellion was renewed and Mr Garang was sent to quell a mutiny by troops in the south – but instead of putting down the mutineers, he joined them.

Mr Kiir then helped Mr Garang to form the SPLM and rose to lead its military wing, which now forms the army of the new state.

Mr Kiir comes from the Dinka community – the largest ethnic group in the south.

Some members of other groups, especially the Nuer, the second most numerous in the south, resent the perceived Dinka dominance.

‘Intolerant of dissent’

The two groups sometimes battled each other during the civil war, as well as fighting together against northerners.

Now, the battle appears to be continuing in the post-independence era.

After fighting broke out in Juba, in mid-December 2013, Mr Kiir accused Riek Machar, a prominent Nuer, of attempting to stage a coup.

Mr Machar, who has presidential ambitions and was sacked as South Sudan’s vice-president in July, denied this, accusing Mr Kiir of fuelling conflict to cover his own failing in government.

His allies say Mr Kiir has not made the transition from military commander to politician – and remains intolerant of dissent.

For his part, Mr Kiir has accused Mr Machar of being a “prophet of doom”, threatening stability in South Sudan.

Either way, it is the biggest challenge to his authority since he became the president of South Sudan.

His supporters are confident that he will emerge victorious, though some analysts say the conflict will probably leave democracy bruised..–“

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