South Sudan President Salva Kiir Takes Campaign to Rival’s Stronghold
In a bold move to solidify his position ahead of next year’s presidential election, South Sudan President Salva Kiir has ventured into the stronghold of his main rival, First Vice President Riek Machar. Kiir kicked off his election campaign in his own stronghold of Bahr-el-Ghazal in July, but the decision to venture into Machar’s territory is seen as a significant escalation in the political battle between the two leaders.
Kiir’s campaign rally in Machar’s stronghold of Upper Nile State is scheduled to take place in the town of Malakal on Wednesday, marking the first time the president has visited the region since the outbreak of the civil war in 2013. The visit comes at a time of heightened tensions between the two factions, with each accusing the other of violating the terms of a fragile peace agreement.
Analysts say Kiir’s decision to campaign in Machar’s stronghold is a calculated move to demonstrate his strength and appeal to voters in a region that has been deeply affected by the conflict. “This is a very important signal that Kiir is not afraid to go into Machar’s territory,” said analyst John Prendergast. “He is showing that he is confident and that he has the support of the people.”
The move is also seen as an attempt to undermine Machar’s support base in Upper Nile State. Machar has traditionally enjoyed strong support in the region, but his popularity has waned in recent years due to the ongoing conflict and economic hardship. Kiir’s visit could be an opportunity to win over some of Machar’s supporters and gain an advantage in the election.
However, the move also carries risks. Machar’s supporters may view Kiir’s visit as a provocation, and there is a possibility of violence. Analysts warn that the visit could further destabilize the region and derail the peace process.
Despite the risks, Kiir appears determined to press ahead with his campaign in Upper Nile State. He is confident that he can win over voters in the region and secure a second term as president. The upcoming rally in Malakal is sure to be a closely watched event, as it could have a significant impact on the outcome of the election and the future of South Sudan.