Salva Kiir Mayardit has served as South Sudan’s President since the country’s independence in 2011. While little is known about Kiir’s early years, he achieved prominence during Sudan’s first civil war. He amassed considerable military and political experience as a member of the Southern Separatist Movement and the National Army. When conflicts between north and south Sudan erupted again, sparking the second Sudanese civil war, he remained committed to his vision of an empowered South Sudanese, earning the allegiance of the military faction of the ‘Sudan People’s Liberation Army and Movement.’ Later in his political career, this devotion propelled him to high-ranking positions. Kiir has been dubbed the “Biblical Joshua” for his role in leading the fugitives to the Promised Land shortly after Moses’ ascension and fall. Throughout his career, he was instrumental in the founding of several significant political movements, including the ‘Sudan People’s Liberation Movement,’ the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and South Sudan’s independence. He has survived two attempted coups against his government, established infrastructures to deal with the influx of refugees returning home after decades of war, and dealt with lingering clashes between southern rebel organizations.
Childhood & Adolescence
Salva Kiir Mayardit was born on September 13, 1951, in Akon, Sudan (now South Sudan). He was born into a family of ‘Dinka’ ethnic origin.
Career of Salva Kiir Mayardit
He joined the ‘Anya Nya’ during the first Sudanese Civil War. ‘Anya Nya’ was a significant southern separatist movement that fought the northern government. From 1955 to 1972, the country was ravaged by civil war.
When the fighting ceased in 1972, he enlisted in the ‘Sudanese National Army,’ where he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
When the aggressors returned in 1983, several senior officers deserted the ‘National Army.’ Kiir and Colonel John Garang de Mabior were among those present.
He co-founded the ‘SPLM’ and ‘SPLA’ – the ‘Sudan People’s Liberation Army and Movement’ – with Garang. In 1983, these groups emerged as the primary southern rebel group opposing the northern government faction.
He was designated as one of Garang’s top deputies during his time in the ‘SPLM’ and ‘SPLA.’ He also served as deputy and commander of the ‘SPLA Council’ and held portfolios for intelligence and foreign affairs on a domestic and international level.
Kiir was a key conciliator for the ‘SPLA’ and ‘SPLM’ in the late 1990s and early 2000s. He was in charge of resolving conflicts between disaffected factions within the ‘SPLA’ and ‘SPLM.’
Garang was named President of the Region and Kiir was named the first Vice-President of the Sudanese National Government in July 2005, following the implementation of the ‘Comprehensive Peace Agreement’ between the north and south. Garang died unexpectedly a month later in a helicopter accident, leaving Kiir to assume both roles.
In the 2010 Sudanese elections, 93 percent of South Sudanese voted for Kiir’s re-election to his current positions. The media began referring to this moment as ‘Step One’ in South Sudan’s succession.
When the CPA referendum was held, an overwhelming 98.83 percent of South Sudanese citizens voted in favor of formal Sudanese succession. South Sudan became a fully independent nation on July 9, 2011, with Kiir serving as the country’s first President.
In late December 2013, a large-scale conflict erupted in Juba. During this time period, Kiir accused his Vice-President, Riek Machar, of staging a coup in an attempt to depose him. Although the coup attempt failed, Machar was removed from his Vice-Presidential position. Machar publicly denied the coup, claiming Kiir instigated the conflict in order to conceal his own inability to lead the government.
Significant Works of Salva Kiir Mayardit
He was a key negotiator between the northern Sudanese government and southern rebels. The negotiations eventually resulted in the formation of the ‘Comprehensive Peace Agreement’ in 2005, bringing Sudan’s second civil war to an end. The ‘CPA’ established South Sudan’s semi-autonomous region.
He outlined his reformation plans for South Sudan during the country’s second anniversary as a fully independent nation. These included rebuilding the countryside and developing a transportation infrastructure that would allow them to bypass the still hostile north Sudan and export oil via Uganda, Kenya, and Ethiopia.
Awards and Accomplishments
He received an honorary degree from a Kenyan university in 2009. The Vice Chancellor of the ‘Great Lakes University of Kisumu’ presented him with a certificate.
Personal History and Legacies
Mary Ayen Mayardit is Kiir’s wife. Mary founded and contributes to Concern for Women and Children, or CWC. The couple has two children: a son, Munuti Salva Kiir, and a daughter, Adut Mayardit.
Estimated Net Worth
Salva Kiir Mayardit is one of the wealthiest politicians and is ranked among the most popular. Salva Kiir Mayardit’s net worth is estimated to be around $1.5 million, based on our analysis of Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.
Former US President George Bush presented him with a 10-gallon black Stetson Cowboy hat during a visit to the White House in 2006. Whether on a personal outing or addressing the ‘United Nations General Assembly,’ he has never been photographed without his hat. The hat has become synonymous with him.