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Salva Kiir Mayardit

Southern Sudanese Nationalist and First President of South Sudan

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Salva Kiir Mayardit is set to become the first president of the Republic of South Sudan, veteran of the First and Second Sudanese Civil Wars, and a leading member of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement.

Date of Birth: c. 1951

Early Life
Very little is known about Salva Kiir despite his prominent position in Sudanese politics. It is believed he was born in 1951, one of the Dinka people who live along the Nile in what was then southern Sudan.

Civil War in The Sudan
Kiir became a member of the Anya Nya during the 1960s, the time of the First Sudanese Civil War. By the time the civil war ended under the 1972 Addis Ababa Agreement, and Southern Sudan was granted autonomy, Kiir was a junior officer.

In 1983 Sudanese President Jaafar Muhammad an-Numeiry broke the 1972 Agreement and sent his forces south to put down the resurgence of the Anya Nya. Many of the soldiers sent south mutinied. One officer in particular, John Garang had been part of the Anya Nya during the First Civil War and was now an army officer. He swapped sides and formed the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) from the remnants of the Anya Nya and the Sudanese soldiers who supported the south. Kiir was amongst those from the Anya Nya who joined the SPLA and he rose to eventually head the SPLM's military wing.

Vice President Kiir
In 2002 Garang began peace talks with President Omar al-Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir. On 9 January 2005 the Sudanese National Islamic Front government, and various opposition groups including the SPLM signed a peace agreement. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) formally recognized the autonomy of southern Sudan and made way for an eventual referendum on independence. John Garang was made vice president of Sudan and president of the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS). Salva Kiir Mayardit was made vice-president of Southern Sudan. When Garang died in a helicopter crash on 30 July 2005, Salva Kiir was made leader of the SPLM and became acting president of Southern Sudan. He was confirmed to the post on 11 August.

In 2010 Kiir decided to focus on independence for Southern Sudan rather than contest for the post of president of Sudan. He was re-elected as president of GOSS with a 93% majority. The re-elected president of Sudan, al-Bashir, once again selected Kiir as his vice-president.

Independence for South Sudan
A referendum on self-determination was held in southern Sudan between 9 and 15 January 2011. The result was a 98% vote for independence. On 9 July 2011 the Republic of South Sudan came into existence, with Salva Kiir Mayardit as its first president.

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