Open Letter to Salva Kiir Mayardit

No one wishes to rise to power through the tragic death of a great leader. Through no wish of your own, following the accidental death of Dr. John Garang de Mabior, great responsibility has been thrust on you.

By Bill Andress 

Dear General Salva Kiir:

It is fair to say that the future of South Sudan (and perhaps all of Sudan) is squarely in your hands. You can make a just and lasting peace a success or allow it to fail. Yours is a heavy burden, awesome responsibility and unprecedented opportunity.

Our goal, as I am sure is yours, is a just and lasting peace for all Sudanese. All of the disenfranchised and marginalized peoples of Sudan now look to you as their hope for the future. You are in a position to seek justice for all Sudanese, and we as members of Sudan Advocacy Action Forum look forward to supporting you in this. We will continue to monitor the situation in Sudan and try to keep the focus of the United States and the international community on a productive future for your country. We offer our prayerful support and assistance in this most difficult task and wish you a smooth transition to the position of representing your people.

We believe that you have several significant challenges. Among them are:

Stopping the genocide in Darfur.

Holding the peace together.

Reconciling the people in the South

Building institutions for governing the South
Making the process open and democratic

Only then will you effectively be able to begin the process of rebuilding. Many of these challenges demand that you focus much of your attention in the South; however, this need is no reason to delay your forcefully addressing the continuing genocide in Darfur. Diversion and stalling have long been tactics that the NIF has used to achieve its strategic goals. Most recently the protracted delay in signing the CPA while the United States and Britain focused on it allowed the NIF and Janjaweed to complete the destruction of the lives and/or livelihood of almost 3 million African Darfur people. They must not be allowed to employ such tactics in the future.

You have the reputation of being a natural consensus-builder. It is said that you are skilled at solving political disputes. Those are powerful personal attributes. Those who know you report that: you are modest and humble - a stabilizing influence; you seek a collegial style, and are focused on action and not words. You are reputed to be of a reforming mind, opposed to corruption, and one who seeks transparency in governing.

Some say that your military background does not equip you to deal at the national and international level. Gen. George Washington, Gen. George Marshall and Gen. Dwight Eisenhower were American examples of military men who became great statesmen. So it appears that those critics have overlooked many who have done just what you now can and must do.

Being mindful of the inherent weakness of South Sudan as an emerging region for several years into the future, we see the following as essential short term measures:

• Major reconciliation efforts within South Sudan must begin immediately. You are internally divided. For very good reasons there is much mistrust today. That mistrust is not healthy and must be addressed openly.

• It takes only the casual observer to note that the international community no longer is focused on Sudan, yet international resolve to stop the NIF from pursuing its racist, ethnic, religious-based injustice against its own people is required for a just peace to succeed. Keeping the continuing genocide in Darfur visible on your agenda will help retain the attention of the world community on all of Sudan.

• The inadequate size and mandate of the A.U. forces in Darfur is apparent. The same mistake must not be made in the South.  

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