Response to President Salva Kiir’s call for National Dialogue


20th December 2016

As the world comes together to avert a genocide in the making in South Sudan, that has come about by the direct actions and poor decisions of President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his kleptocratic regime, it is outrageous and disrespectful to the people of South Sudan that the President calls for a National dialogue while the country is slipping into a genocide and innocent lives continue to be murdered.

UPDM supports dialogue as part of a well thought through comprehensive peacebuilding approach for a much-needed healing and reconciliation process in the country, however, UPDM takes the position that the problems the country is now facing cannot be resolved by President Kiir’s regime same level of thinking that created the problems in consideration of:

  • The current situation that is characterised by continued armed conflict, rape, harassment, torture, displacement, unlawful detainment and massacres of innocent unarmed citizens across the country, which does not encourage the spirit or provide a free environment necessary for an honest and genuine National Dialogue.
  • A genuine National Dialogue where all stakeholders to the conflict participate as equals requires a credible convener who is respected by the majority of stakeholders and has no political aspirations. As the President meets neither of these qualities, and is rather better known for his role in the establishment and command of the illegal Anyoor Mathiang militia that are engaged in massacres of innocent unarmed civilians across the country, his divisive policy of pitting one ethnic group against another, his hate speeches inciting ethnic violence and publicly declaring war on Equatorians; his attempts to convene a National Dialogue are at best a farce and misguided.
  • A National Dialogue can only maintain legitimacy if it is undertaken in a free and fair space with the participation of the broader population. However given the common knowledge that over 1.87 million[1] South Sudanese (including 212,000 people in UNMIS Protection of Civilian sites sheltering from the regime’s brutality) are internally displaced, and another 1.3 million people[2] have fled to neighbouring countries, it is inconceivable that the President continues his National Dialogue monologue. Furthermore, the President’s consistent clamp down on free speech and persistent policy of censoring media houses, including murdering journalists, defeats the important role of the media vital to the success of such a Dialogue.
  • An honest and genuine National Dialogue seeks to address the underlying causes of conflict in the country and requires a broad consensus on the issues to be resolved, an important factor the President chooses to evade. The President’s intent is obvious in disguising the fact that the main underlying cause of the conflict is this kleptocratic regime’s history of nepotism, corruption, violation of human rights and rule of law, unconstitutional executive orders, unconstitutional firing and hiring of elected positions, misuse of public resources for individual gains, lack of development, restriction of free speech and political space, illegitimate authority, and illegal recruitment and use of militia groups to terrorise any voices of dissent, leading to the failed state characterised by widespread conflict across the country, a failed economy, a genocide in the making and a people in flight.

UPDM reminds the President and his kleptocratic regime that their continued hold on to power is illegitimate now that ARCISS has collapsed. In the absence of any other mandate by the people or any ongoing legitimate peace process, the Transitional Government of National Unity is null and void. The people of South Sudan see through his deflective attempts of a National Dialogue to disguise:

  • His prominent role in the ‘genocide in the making’, and the ongoing international efforts to evoke an arms embargo and personal sanctions on prominent individuals in his government, including himself.
  • The economic collapse under his leadership that limits his ability to continue pursuing a military solution and is depleting the remaining internal human resource capacity.
  • The increasing lack of confidence amongst his Senior Servants who continue to resign from his government, including the recent resignation after his call for National Dialogue.
  • His illegitimate hold on to power, in the absence of ARCISS or any other mandate from the people.

UPDM, therefore, calls on the International Community not to be diverted by this latest scheme of President Salva Kiir, from their critical efforts to avert a genocide in South Sudan, mindful that they ‘can and must act’ with urgency. In this regard, we welcome the solidarity of the ‘Holocaust and genocide memorials’ with the people of South Sudan, in particular, the reminder of Ellie Wiesel’s words that “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”[3]

UPDM urges UN Security Council, the African Union and the TROIKA members to double their efforts towards (i) an arms embargo and sanctions on spoilers of Peace/ARCISS including President Salva Kiir, for his role in derailing ARCISS, and the ‘genocide in the making’; (ii) a speedy establishment of the hybrid court, as justice comes before Dialogue; (iii) expedite deployment of the approved 4,000 UN protection force, where necessary, seeking alternatives to regional contributions from members that have shown partial tendencies in the peace process lately and continue to delay the process of deployment.

UPDM appeals to the people of South Sudan, to reject the divisive policies of President Salva Kirr, and instead join us in calling for his immediate resignation. Understanding that without a neutral and peaceful environment where the guns are silent, the internally displaced and refugees have returned home, the hybrid court is running its course and all stakeholders, including the wider population, are fully engaged, there can be no honest and genuine National Dialogue.

UPDM stands with the suffering and tormented people of South Sudan who continue to endure unimaginable violations, and applauds the resilience and hope they continue to demonstrate in the face of adversity. We appeal to the international community to continue supporting the increasing humanitarian needs both inside the country and among refugees in neighbouring countries and support us in finding a sustainable solution as soon as possible.

We call on the people of South Sudan to stand in solidarity with each other during this difficult time and together continue to seek a conducive environment for reconciliation, healing and reconstruction of our social fabric. United we stand.


CC:. UNSC, AU, TROIKA, IGAD, SS Community Leaders, Media Houses

“The degree of liberty or tyranny in any government is in large degree a reflection of the relative determination of the subjects to be free and their willingness and ability to resist efforts to enslave them.”
― Gene Sharp, From Dictatorship to Democracy