Kiir’s Cowardly Capitulation in Malakal Speaks Volumes
The decision by President Salva Kiir to indefinitely postpone a campaign rally in Malakal due to “security concerns” reveals the cowardice and illegitimacy of this failing government.
Rather than take responsibility for bringing peace and stability to Upper Nile State, Kiir hides in Juba, afraid to face the people his failed policies have hurt the most. His willingness to fan the flames of inter-communal conflict through weapons transfers and incendiary rhetoric has made much of the country ungovernable. Now he is unwilling to reap what he has sown.
This latest incident exposes Kiir’s lack of genuine political support across South Sudan. He may be able to tightly orchestrate rallies in select strongholds, but the broader population has grown understandably hostile after years of civil war, economic devastation and broken promises of reform – conditions either caused or worsened by Kiir’s administration.
Real leaders take risks and dare to engage all citizens, even critics. But Kiir can’t even set foot in Upper Nile without fearing an assassination attempt. What kind of leader refuses to visibly stand with marginalized communities in the wake of tragedy and instability? The kind who never deserved their support in the first place.
Rumours suggest the rally was also cancelled over lack of funds after Kiir bribed East African officials to secure a meaningless appointment. If true, it would be a tragic symbol of gross financial mismanagement – diplomats bought off while citizens starved.
Opposition groups would be wise to leverage this embarrassing situation to their advantage ahead of elections. Kiir has lost all credibility by cowardly cancelling the Malakal event. After years of corruption and conflict, the people deserve new leadership willing to listen to their plight. Kiir has failed them and continues to fail them, without shame. The time for change is now.