WASHINGTON – Exiled South Sudan economist and civil rights activist Peter Biar Ajak who is in the US has said that the east African country deserves a better leader than the incumbent Salva Kiir Mayardit.
In mid-July, Biar fled to the United States from Kenya with the help of the Trump Administration, which issued an emergency visa after the economist said he was being hunted down by Kiir’s notorious security agents in Kenya, where government critics have been kidnapped previously.
“The last few weeks have been a bit terrifying. Extremely terrifying,” Biar told the Associated Press at the time. “I’m incredibly grateful to the U.S. for acting as expeditiously as feasible.”
In an opinion article published by the Washington Post today, Biar who is the head of South Sudan Young Leaders Forum said President Kiir’s management of the world’s youngest country has been “disastrous.”
“….. while Kiir deserves commendation for his successful mediation in Sudan’s conflict, his own management of South Sudan has been disastrous,” Biar who is a former NSS detainee wrote.
“South Sudan cannot address its enormous challenges and thrive with Kiir in charge. Any hope for a better future lies with finding a rapid path to credible elections, which will finally allow the South Sudanese people to vote for leaders of their choice,” he added.
Kiir and main armed opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar Teny signed a revitalized version of a 2015 peace agreement in September 2018 to end the six-year-old civil war.
The agreement has however seen setbacks as the two principals have shown little interest in delivering promises they made in the agreement.
Biar criticized Kiir’s lack of commitment to the peace agreement which he had signed under regional and international pressure saying the peace deal is faltering.
“Already, this agreement is faltering, as Kiir has shown little interest in its implementation,” he said.
“Although it brought many of the warring factions back to Juba, Kiir’s unwillingness to deliver on the specific commitments within it — the merging of warring militias into a national army, the reconstitution of the parliament and the establishment of sub-regional governments — has created great risks of a new conflict emerging,” added the economist.
The economist further called for international pressure against Kiir so that he lives up to the supposedly “timely implementation of the peace deal with elections taking place by March 2022.”
“If the international community acquiesces to a fourth deferral of elections, it would crush the hopes of the South Sudanese people, who will conclude the promise of the independence referendum to finally give them their own democratic state was just a cruel illusion.
“South Sudan cannot improve the quality of life for its people with Kiir in power. He knows that the South Sudanese people will never reelect him in free, fair and credible elections. He sees conflict, endless negotiations to nowhere and severe repression as the only way of maintaining his grip on power.
But if the people can finally vote, they will undoubtedly send him home and elect visionary leaders who will rebuild South Sudan and restore enduring peace, development and human rights for all its people.”